Thanks to travel advisory lists, increased testing, and mask awareness, coronavirus growth curves are beginning to go down. Unfortunately, a disparate counter-response to the virus saw some states fare much better than others on this front.
Herd immunity was thought to be the most promising among these until it wasn’t.
Ideally, a sufficient percentage of Americans will have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus ahead of a vaccine so by the time one arrives the likelihood of infection for immune-deficient individuals will drastically decline.
“When younger, healthier people get the disease, they don’t have a problem with the disease. I’m not sure why that’s so difficult for everyone to acknowledge,” explained, Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, said in a recent interview. “These people getting the infection is not really a problem, and in fact, as we said months ago, when you isolate everyone, including all the healthy people, you’re prolonging the problem because you’re preventing population immunity. Low-risk groups getting the infection is not a problem.”
However, the majority of public health experts contend that herd immunity will not yield a meaningful route back to normalcy. Their primary concern is that for the theory to work, communities would need to allow enough outbreaks to occur to manufacture natural immunity nationwide.
Even though 40% of coronavirus carriers remain asymptomatic for the entire duration of infection, and more than 80% will recover without medical intervention, there are populations who will develop fatal manifestations of the disease-many of these cases can’t be anticipated or mitigated.
According to Dr. Leana Wen, who is an emergency physician and CNN medical analyst, if herd immunity played out, 2 million Americans could die before growth curves diminished.
“If we’re waiting until 60% to 80% of people have it, we’re talking about 200 million-plus Americans getting this — and at a fatality rate of 1%, let’s say, that’s 2 million Americans who will die in this effort to try to get herd immunity,” Wen said. “Those are preventable deaths of our loved ones that we can just not let happen under our watch.”
Herd immunity might not be the most viable countermeasure available, but it appears to be producing some desirable outcomes in heavily impacted regions.
Data scientist Mark Last, a professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, believes that New York and Califonoria are already on the cusp of collective natural immunity.
Last is among a list of academicians who are skeptical of the purported 60% to 80% needed to facilitate herd immunity.
“In California, it appears that herd immunity was reached around July 15 with slightly more than 10% of their population (4.05 million) being infected,” List added. “This means that their basic reproduction number R0 under current restrictions is only 1.1.
“In Israel, a further lockdown is not necessary if the current restrictions are maintained and there are no unusual spreading events. If we maintain the current restrictions, then my model predicts that we are at the end of this peak, which should tail off at the end of August or the beginning of September. Moreover, according to my calculations, we need 1.16 million people with antibodies in order to achieve herd immunity and we are very close to that number.
We are heading in the right direction, but it is important not to relax our restrictions or get overconfident,”