Health Experts Speculate About Herd Immunity In The U.S.

Headline Roundup February 21st, 2021

Nearly one year into widespread COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, vaccine rollouts and a decline in new cases have health experts speculating about when the country will reach herd immunity. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, surgeon and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Marty Makary said he believes herd immunity to the virus would be when 60% to 80% have been infected or vaccinated, and that the U.S. could reach the number by April. According to Makary, about 8% of the population has been infected and 15% of the population vaccinated; additionally, he said, since many COVID-19 cases are not recorded because not everyone gets tested, he estimated the real number is possibly 55%, and that the 60% threshold could be reached by April. Others warn that herd immunity depends on several factors that vary by region, such as restrictions, vaccination rate and infection rate. In addition, some warn it is still unknown how long immunity from vaccines will last or how current vaccines will protect against new variants of the virus. On Sunday, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS he thinks the U.S. may never reach full herd immunity against the virus, saying "Covid is going to continue to circulate at a low level."

Some outlets across the political spectrum provided analysis as to when herd immunity could be achieved. Makary's op-ed received wide coverage from the right and less coverage from left- and center-rated outlets, though it was covered by Mediaite and Newsweek.

Health Experts Speculate About Herd Immunity In The U.S.

From the Left
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ANALYSIS

With the vaccine rollout underway and coronavirus cases declining after a dark winter surge, it may seem as though the end of the pandemic is in sight. In reality, how soon could we get there?

One answer lies in herd immunity, the point when enough people are immune to the virus that it can no longer spread through the population. Getting there, however, depends not just on how quickly we can vaccinate but on other factors, too, like how many people have already been infected and how easily the virus...

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From the Right
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OPINION

Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?

In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case...

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From the Center
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ANALYSIS

Health officials around the world are racing to vaccinate enough people to stop the spread of COVID-19, but what qualifies as “enough” is still an open question.

The goal is to get to “herd immunity,” which is when enough people have immunity, either from vaccination or a past infection, to stop uncontrolled spread.

Herd immunity doesn’t make any one person immune, and outbreaks can still flare up. It means that a virus is no longer easily jumping from person to person, helping to protect those who are still vulnerable to...

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