Wide, unstoppable spread of the coronavirus is exactly an outcome experts are modeling in their worst-case scenarios. They say that given what they know about the virus, it could end up infecting about 60% of the world’s population, even within the year.
Those figures aren’t a random guess. They are informed by the point at which epidemiologists say herd immunity should kick in for this particular virus.
Last week the herd immunity idea blew up in the headlines after UK prime minister Boris Johnson indicated that country’s official strategy might be to put on a stiff upper lip and let the disease run its course. The chief science adviser to the UK government, Patrick Vallance, said the country needed to “build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission.”