COVID-19 Booster Shots Could Help Iceland Reach Herd Immunity Skip to content
COVID-19 briefing Iceland Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason
Photo: Golli. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

COVID-19 Booster Shots Could Help Iceland Reach Herd Immunity

Of the 30,000 people who have received a booster shot in Iceland, only 10 have contracted COVID, around 0.03%. Of the 270,000-280,000 that are fully vaccinated, 4,500 people have contracted COVID, around 1.6%. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist stated there is strong evidence that booster shots could create herd immunity in Iceland.

Three doses 90% more effective than two

In an interview on TV program Kastljós last night, Þórólfur explained that experts initially hoped herd immunity would be achieved when the majority of a population was fully vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. That hope was based on research with early variants of SARS-CoV-2. The Delta variant of COVID-19, however, proved more infectious than experts anticipated.

While vaccination has significantly lowered rates of infection, transmission, and serious illness in Iceland, it still does not prevent large waves of infection. “Now it has come to light that two doses are not quite good enough,” Þórólfur stated. “For example in Israel, it came to light that the third dose given 5-6 months after dose two works very well, is 90% more effective than dose two in preventing infection, transmission, and serious illness.” He added: “I think there are all indications for us to hope that dose number three will create herd immunity here or at least significantly [reduce the spread of COVID].”

Booster shots administered over next five months

Iceland’s health authorities will begin administering booster shots en masse next week and expect to administer 120,000 before the end of the year. All eligible residents are expected to be offered a booster shot by the end of March 2022. “We hope that people will show up because the booster shot not only protects the individual from infection and serious illness, but also from spreading infection. That way we should be able to get out of COVID, if everything works as it seems like it will.”

Over 76% of Iceland’s total population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Þórólfur stated that around 11% of those eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Iceland (those 12 years and older) have yet to be vaccinated.

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