SARS-CoV-2 is an international public health emergency; high transmissibility and morbidity and mortality can result in the virus overwhelming health systems. Combinations of social distancing, and test, trace, and isolate strategies can reduce the number of new infections per infected individual below 1, thus driving declines in case numbers, but may be both challenging and costly. These interventions must also be maintained until development and (now likely) mass deployment of a vaccine (or therapeutics), since otherwise, many susceptible individuals are still at risk of infection. We use a simple analytical model to explore how low levels of infection, combined with vaccination, determine the trajectory to community immunity. Understanding the repercussions of the biological characteristics of the viral life cycle in this scenario is of considerable importance. We provide a simple description of this process by modelling the scenario where the effective reproduction number Reff is maintained at 1. Since the additional complexity imposed by the strength and duration of transmission-blocking immunity is not yet clear, we use our framework to probe the impact of these uncertainties. Through intuitive analytical relations, we explore how the necessary magnitude of vaccination rates and mitigation efforts depends crucially on the durations of natural and vaccinal immunity. We also show that our framework can encompass seasonality or preexisting immunity due to epidemic dynamics prior to strong mitigation measures. Taken together, our simple conceptual model illustrates the importance of individual and vaccinal immunity for community immunity, and that the quantification of individuals immunized against SARS-CoV-2 is paramount.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Community immunity
- Natural and vaccinal immunity