Why herd immunity through vaccination isn’t possible

From Richard Seymour’s excellent piece (£) on acceptable levels of death after 18 months of the pandemic:

 As Independent Sage’s most recent report suggests, given the real effectiveness of vaccines, to reach ‘herd immunity’ with the original variant of Covid-19 one would need 78.4 per cent of people to be vaccinated. With Alpha variant, the figure would have to be 91.5 per cent. With Delta variant, it would be 98 per cent. Given the number of people who can’t be vaccinated for various reasons, that is simply an impossible target.

It ends on a grimly plausible note. This is why it’s essential we think about the post-pandemic as something to built, which is necessarily contested, rather than the normality which we imagine awaits us once the problem has been fixed.

The underlying issue here is that the plague isn’t going away. We have to live with it, which means reorganising public life to create resiliency. It means investing in health and social care, currently starved of investment. It means reorganising schools and workplaces so that they don’t act as institutional amplifiers for the disease, and and reforming labour-capital relations to ensure that health is prioritised over the demands of management.

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