"However, because this approach aims to avoid disease elimination, it would need a constant adjustment of lockdown measures to ensure enough people are being infected at a particular point in time," Brett added.
The research team sought to determine if and how countries could achieve herd immunity without overburdening the health care system.
They developed an age-stratified disease transmission model to simulate SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the UK, with spread controlled by the self-isolation of symptomatic individuals and various levels of social distancing.
Their simulations found that in the absence of any control measures, the UK would experience as many as 4,10,000 deaths related to Covid-19, with 3,50,000 of those being from individuals aged 60-plus.
They found that using the suppression strategy, far fewer fatalities were predicted: 62,000 among individuals aged 60-plus and 43,000 among individuals under 60.
If self-isolation engagement is high (defined as at least 70 per cent reduction in transmission), suppression can be achieved in two months regardless of social distancing measures, and potentially sooner should school, work and social gathering places close.
To instead achieve herd immunity given currently available hospital resources, the UK would need to adjust levels of social distancing in real time to ensure that the number of sick individuals is equal to, but not beyond, hospital capacity.
"If the virus spreads too quickly, hospitals will be overwhelmed, but if it spreads too slowly, the epidemic will be suppressed without achieving herd immunity," the team wrote.
They further noted that much is unknown about the nature, duration and effectiveness of Covid-19 immunity, and that their model assumes perfect long-lasting immunity.
The team cautioned that if immunity is not perfect, and there is a significant chance of reinfection, achieving herd immunity through widespread exposure is very unlikely.
"We recognize there remains much for us to learn about Covid-19 transmission and immunity," said study authors.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.