June 18, 2021

University College London: Britain to achieve COVID herd immunity threshold soon

Britain is set to achieve COVID immunity this coming Monday, says a dynamic modelling system developed by experts at the University College of London (UCL). The model says that people who are protected against COVID-19, either because they are naturally immune or have received a vaccine, will hit 73.4% by April 12, 2021.

The projection is based on the results of the antibody testing published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the data on the number of people who have received the first dose of the vaccine, and cross immunity. Data from the ONS showed that around 54% of British people had antibodies as of March 14, 2021. A further 7.1 million have received the first jab, and nearly 100,000 have tested positive for COVID-1. Moreover, the researchers said that around 10% of the population are naturally immune, either through exposure to other coronavirus (a phenomenon called cross immunity), or because they have SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cells.

The data from this model was revealed exclusively to the Daily Telegraph. It directly contradicts the projections of the model created by the Imperial College of London (ICL) which showed that only 34% of the population was immune by the end of March 2021 . Unlike the ICL model, the UCL model reacts to real-time death, infections, vaccinations, vaccine effectiveness data, and Google mobility trends, which are also the same factors that inform transmission trends.

The UCL model also predicted that the threshold needed for herd immunity will drop dramatically in the next couple of months, with the UK needing only 40% protection by the middle of summer to have a safe winter.

Editor’s Note: The UCL model is a more accurate projection precisely because it utilizes long-held immunological concepts and real-world data, unlike the ICL model which is purely speculative. Unlike the ICL model which still assumes that the general population has no existing immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the UCL model is not limited to immunity coming from vaccines. It acknowledges cross-immunity, and immunity from past infection, a scientific fact that has been corroborated by various experts. Consider the following:

It is only appropriate that herd immunity models are updated, as the science changes – this is what truly evidence-based decision-making is all about. Also, as a reminder, the issue with ICL projection models are well known and well criticized. Why should the government trust them now?

The UCL model can explain for the drop in cases in various countries early in the year [see New cases plummeting and it is not due to vaccines, and Fauci: The drop in COVID cases not due to vaccine]. It also explains why in countries like the Philippines, where cases are increasing, deaths have been consistently dropping. The only remaining caveat for the UCL model is what kind of antibodies are being produced by the vaccines? Different antibodies have different properties.

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