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Only vaccination can protect society from coronavirus - expert

Russian Health Ministry’s chief epidemiologist Nikolai Briko added that when 60-70% of the population are immune to the virus

MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. The spread of the novel coronavirus infection will stop only when 95% of the population are immune to it - a goal that can be achieved only through vaccination, Russian Health Ministry’s chief epidemiologist, Nikolai Briko, said in an interview with Parlamentskaya Gazeta published on Sunday.

"The only way to stop an epidemic of an airborne infection is broad vaccine coverage," the expert said. "The World Health Organization sets the goal of 95% of the population - this is the figure, which guarantees the society’s invulnerability to an infection. It will be contained, because it won’t find a favorable environment for spreading within this group of people."

Briko added that when 60-70% of the population are immune to the virus, the society reaches "the stage when, even if a pathogen becomes imported, it will be less prone to spreading and causing new cases of the disease."

However, it would be wrong to wait for this figure to be achieved in a natural way, because "this would cause too many human deaths."

"We need a vaccine to artificially create the required degree of immunity. In this case, even if a pathogen is imported into a certain group of people, it won’t spread further, because it is contained by a powerful shield of individuals who are immune to it," the expert said.

Specialists all over the world, including Russia, are working to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. According to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, 47 coronavirus vaccines are currently in various stages of development in Russia, and five have already entered clinical trials.

The Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Russia’s sanitary watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, expects first results of clinical trials in early July.

On May 15, Moscow launched a large-scale free novel coronavirus immunity testing program for citizens. Every few days, up to 70,000 people will be invited to take the test.

Earlier, Head of the Moscow Department of Healthcare Alexei Khripun said that about 50,000 Muscovites have been screened for novel coronavirus antibodies, but only 12.5% of them have immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies that can protect their carrier against the infection.

Director of Russia’s Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology Alexander Gintsburg said approximately 15-20% of all residents of Moscow had probably already been exposed to the novel coronavirus pathogen.