Herd immunity "out of reach" due to Delta variant: Health Minister
Herd immunity against Covid-19 is no longer a realistic goal, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday. The much more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus dashed the hope that a vaccination rate of 70 percent would end the pandemic, he said, NU.nl reports.
"The strategy is not group immunity because that is out of reach. But we do want the highest possible immunity," De Jonge said. He expects that the coronavirus will continue to come in waves but that the waves will get lower.
The Netherlands has about 1.8 million unvaccinated people. Of these, between 20,000 and 25,000 will likely end up in hospital at some point, with between 3,000 and 4,000 needing intensive care.
And if the coronavirus spreads widely, as it did in the past weeks, a large number of vaccinated people will also need hospital care. All in all, this results in full hospitals and overworked healthcare employees.
"You cannot create group immunity if the virus causes a lot of damage," De Jonge said. Healthcare cannot cope with so many patients, which is why protection must be built up with vaccination, he said.
The current vaccination rate of 85 percent is likely not enough to offer the needed protection, De Jonge concluded.