A Professor of Immunology, Prof. Ganiyu Arinola, says easing lockdown in Nigeria will not provide herd immunity against COVID-19 pandemic.
Arinola of the Department of Immunology, University of Ibadan, spoke with newsmen on Tuesday in Ibadan on the strategies Federal Government was adopting to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
Herd immunity happens when a large percentage of people develop immunity to a disease, either by catching it or through vaccines.
A herd immunity also known as community immunity can slow or stop the spread of a viral disease.
Arinola said that pursing herd immunity without a vaccine may not work because scientists do not know how long immunity to COVID-19 would last in a previously infected person.
Arinola, also said that herd immunity does not work for all infections, and without a vaccine it was tantamount to survival of the fittest.
“Herd immunity is not the answer to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19, because natural immunity doesn’t give effective herd immunity as much as vaccinations.
“Presently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, and coupled with the fact that the disease is relatively new, therefore, the Coronavirus immune responses is still under study.
“The pathogenesis is not well understood, hospitals and healthcare systems may be overburden, if many people develop COVID-19 at the same time.
”The disease is too deadly to experiment with herd immunity without a vaccine. There is no specific drug to treat COVID-19 till date.
“Due to lack of herd immunity for the virus, there will be high rate of community transmission, thus relaxing lockdown in Nigeria may be a mistake,” he said.
Arinola, however, said that Federal Government’s decision to lift lockdown restrictions in major cities could result in mass infection, which would consequently overwhelm the health system and cause COVID-19 deaths.
Also, Dr Olubusuyi Adewumi, a Senior Lecturer, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, advised the Federal Government to base its fight against COVID-19 on proven scientific guidelines and principles.
“Herd immunity has to do with presence of neutralising antibody to a virus by certain proportion of the population.
“When significant proportion of the population has neutralising antibodies to a particular virus, its transmission efficiency or infection rates becomes reduced in such population.
“Easing lockdown without any indices showing decline in COVID-19 infection rates is not the best, because COVID-19 is still new and we don’t know how it will behave,” Adewumi said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, as at 11.45p.m on Thursday, said confirmed cases of COVID- 19 stand at 2,802; discharged 417, with 93 deaths.