Herd Immunity: The Math Isn’t Adding Up

People visit the Hudson Yards as New York City continues its re-opening efforts, October 17, 2020. Image: Noam Galai/Getty
Image credit
People visit the Hudson Yards as New York City continues its re-opening efforts, October 17, 2020. Image: Noam Galai/Getty

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

People who’ve already had COVID are thought immune, at least for a time. A new UK Biobank study found 88% of previously infected people had antibodies lasting at least 6 months, BBC reports.

The Best Case Scenario: All 105 million Americans thought to be previously exposed to the virus are immune. But that’s far from given.

Uncertainties Include: 

  • 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.
Comments +

0 comments

Post a Comment

Restricted HTML

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Back to top