Coronavirus herd immunity cannot be achieved as antibodies are short lived: Spanish study finds

A Spanish antibody study has estimated that at least 5.2% of Spain’s population had been exposed to the new coronavirus.

Which means more than 65,000 people of the Spanish population have developed antibodies, the medical journal the Lancet reported.

Herd immunity is achieved when enough people become immune to a virus for the virus to stop spreading.

At least 70 percent of the population needs to be needs to be immune to protect the uninfected.

“Despite the high impact of Covid-19 in Spain, prevalence estimates remain low and are clearly insufficient to provide herd immunity,” the authors wrote.

“This cannot be achieved without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems.

“In this situation, social distance measures and efforts to identify and isolate new cases and their contacts are imperative for future epidemic control.”

It also suggested that immunity to the virus can be short-lived, with 14% of participants who tested positive for antibodies in the first stage subsequently testing negative in the last stage.

The loss of immunity was most common among people who never developed symptoms.

The study is thought to be the largest of its kind on the coronavirus in Europe. Spain has recorded 298,869 cases and at least 28,388 deaths.

Spain has gradually lifted restrictions from May after imposing them in mid-March. International borders were opened in the beginning of July. However, in recent weeks regions of Galicia and Catalonia re-imposed lockdown after small-scale outbreaks were spotted.