/US unlikely to achieve COVID-19 herd immunity, experts say – New York Post

US unlikely to achieve COVID-19 herd immunity, experts say – New York Post


The United States is unlikely to reach herd immunity as more contagious COVID-19 variants spread and many Americans remain reluctant to get vaccinated, experts now believe.

Instead, the virus — which has killed more than 577,000 nationwide — will only become more manageable, scientists said.

“The virus is unlikely to go away,” Rustom Antia, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told the New York Times.

“But we want to do all we can to check that it’s likely to become a mild infection.”

Currently, just under half of Americans have received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about a third are fully vaccinated, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Eradication is, I think, impossible at this stage,” Dr. Bary Pradelsk, a French economist, told the Times.

“But you want local elimination,” he said, referring to a strategy whereby communities are able to control potential outbreaks through vigilant testing and tracking. Pradelsk and his colleagues described this strategy in a paper published in The Lancet Thursday. 

Experts said that COVID-19 will not go away, but only become more manageable.
Experts said COVID-19 will not go away, but only become more manageable.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Earlier in the pandemic, scientists had estimated that herd immunity would be reached when 60 to 70 percent of people either had natural immunity from prior infection or immunity through inoculation.

A year later, that estimate had risen to at least 80 percent, largely due to highly transmissible new mutations, the Times noted.

But now, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, is urging the public not to focus on herd immunity — and instead just focus on getting themselves vaccinated.

A COVID-19 positive patient is seen on a ventilator at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts.
A COVID-19-positive patient is seen on a ventilator at UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts.
ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images

“People were getting confused and thinking you’re never going to get the infections down until you reach this mystical level of herd immunity, whatever that number is,” he told the newspaper. 

“That’s why we stopped using herd immunity in the classic sense. I’m saying: Forget that for a second. You vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down.”

In addition to new variants like B.1.1.7 — the strain first identified in Britain that is believed to be 60 percent more transmissible — vaccine hesitancy plays a role in achieving a state of herd immunity.

About 22 percent of Americans say they will not get a vaccine, according to a CBS News poll conducted in late April.    

In some states, vaccine hesitancy is even higher. Thirty-three percent of people in Wyoming say they won’t get jabbed, while 27 percent in nearby Montana and 24.5 percent in Idaho say they would also refuse a vaccine, according to a recent Census Bureau survey

The most common reasons for vaccine hesitancy are concerns about side effects and the overall safety of the shots. 

In New York, however, hesitancy is relatively low — with just 11 percent of Empire State residents admitting they are wary of the inoculations, according to the data. 

That number may drop, but not significantly, according to Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch.

“It is theoretically possible that we could get to about 90 percent vaccination coverage, but not super likely, I would say,” he told the Times.

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