Experts predict that herd immunity may allow us to get rid of masks by as soon as August.
The speed of the rate of vaccination in the Valencian Community could mean that 70% of the population will be vaccinated by the end of summer.
Herd immunity, explained Public Health expert Salvador Peiró, is calculated in the case of Sars-Cov-2 as 70% of the total population. “We consider that with 70% of immunized people, the reproduction rate will be below 1 and the virus will eventually become extinct,” he said.
Herd immunity acts as a collective protection. As vaccines significantly slow down transmission (above 80% on average), even if 30% of the population is without immunization, those 30% can still mix with people who do have the vaccine without much risk.
2.4 million Valencian Community residents will need to be vaccinated in order for the 70% goal to be reached. According to forecasts, if the rhythm of the current vaccination rollout is maintained, this figure could be reached by August 31st, fulfilling initial government forecasts of herd immunity by the end of summer. However, other indicators mean that this could be even earlier as more doses arrive and the issuing of appointments is ramped up over the summer months.
Spanish government officials maintain that the wearing of a mask will be obligatory until herd immunity is reached and the situation and legislation will be then reviewed. Currently, a mask is mandatory in all closed and open public spaces, and while in natural open spaces such as the beach or countryside, it depends on whether the safety between people can be maintained.
Experts believe that mandatory mask wearing could disappear sooner than most of us think. Rafael Toledo, Professor of Immunoparasitology at the University of Valencia said, “With 40 or 50% vaccinated, restrictions could be greatly reduced because even if the virus continues to circulate, it will do so in sectors that do not suffer from the disease.”