About 70-85% of a population must become immune to COVID-19 to reach herd immunity, and the math, at least in the US, isn’t looking good.
Key Factors according to NPR Shots:
The Previously Infected: Believed to be up to ~32% of the US population
The Best Case Scenario: All 105 million Americans thought to be previously exposed to the virus are immune. But that’s far from given.
- Infection severity. “People who have severe disease are probably better protected from being reinfected,” University of Iowa immunologist Stanley Perlman told NPR. But people with mild-moderate symptoms make up a large portion of the previously infected.
New Variants of the virus could create new infections even in vaccinated or recovered people. A Public Health England study published yesterday ups that concern, showing that the E484K mutation in some variants dampen the vaccine’s impact, CIDRAP reports.
The Children: ~22% of the population
- Children under 16 are not eligible for vaccines yet, and likely won’t have a vaccine until late spring or early summer at the earliest, NPR reports.
The Vaccine Hesitant: ~27% of adults
- Even if the vaccine rollout ramps up, a high percentage of people say they would decline it—and if that doesn’t change, herd immunity would be much harder to reach.