Herd Immunity for Americans May Be an Elusive Goal

By Ernie Mundell and Robin Foster
HealthDay Reporters

MONDAY, May 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) – While more than half of American adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, many scientists and public health experts now believe that herd immunity cannot be reached in the foreseeable future.

Instead, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat circulating in the United States for years to come, causing hospitalizations and deaths, albeit in much smaller numbers, The New York Times reported.

How much smaller depends to a large extent on the number of people vaccinated and how the coronavirus is progressing. The virus evolves rapidly, new variants spread easily, and vaccination is proceeding too slowly for herd immunity to establish as quickly as some experts had hoped.

“The virus is unlikely to go away,” said Rustom Antia, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta. Time. “But we want to do everything we can to check that he’s likely to become a mild infection.”


The herd immunity campaign has convinced many Americans that it is worth getting vaccinated, so vaccine skeptics can use the latest thinking from public health experts to avoid getting vaccinated. Time Noted. But vaccinations remain the key to turning the virus into a threat that can be tamed, experts have said.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s senior medical adviser, acknowledged the change in mentality.

“People were getting confused and thought that you would never get the infections until you hit that mystical level of herd immunity, regardless of that number,” he told the Time. “That’s why we stopped using herd immunity in the classic sense of the word. I’m saying, forget it for a second. You vaccinate enough people, the infections will go down.”

At first, herd immunity was estimated at around 60% to 70% of the population. Most experts, including Fauci, believed the United States could hit that threshold once the vaccines were available.

But as vaccine distribution picked up its pace this spring, the target threshold increased, mainly due to the emergence of more contagious variants of the virus. The predominant variant currently circulating in the United States, called B.1.1.7 and first spotted in the United Kingdom, is about 60% more transmissible.


Experts now estimate that the herd’s threshold of immunity is at least 80 percent. If even more contagious variants develop, or if scientists find that immune people can still transmit the virus, the estimate of the threshold will increase again, the Time reported.

Meanwhile, polls show that about 30% of the American population are still hesitant to get vaccinated. This number is expected to improve, but probably not enough. What matters most now is the rate of hospitalizations and deaths once pandemic restrictions are relaxed, experts say.

“What we at least want to do is get to a point where we just have little sporadic breakouts,” said Carl Bergstrom, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Time. “That would be a very reasonable target in this country where we have a great vaccine and the ability to deliver it.”

Police vaccination rates remain low

Although police officers were among the first frontline workers to gain access to coronavirus vaccines, their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as the general public, new data from some of the world’s largest organizations shows. law enforcement of the land.


At the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, only 39% of employees have received at least one dose, officials said, compared to more than 50% of eligible adults nationwide. In Atlanta, 36% of sworn officers were vaccinated, the Washington post reported. And just 28% of people employed by the Columbus Police Division – Ohio’s largest police department – report being shot.

“I think this is unacceptable,” said Joe Lombardo, Las Vegas Police Chief and Clark County Sheriff, of the meager demand for beatings within his force.

Because officers have high rates of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, their hesitation puts them at greater risk of serious illness from the coronavirus while undermining the forces’ readiness, experts told the To post. Police officers were more likely to die from COVID-19 last year than from all other causes combined, according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.


The reluctance to vaccinate the police also means that they can transmit the virus to vulnerable people with whom they interact.


“Police touch people,” said Sharona Hoffman, professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University. To post. “Imagine having a child in the car who is not vaccinated. People would like to know if a policeman who comes to their window is protected.”

One solution is for departments to make vaccination mandatory, just as some healthcare institutions and universities have started to do, experts said.

But police chiefs and union officials said To post that such demands could backfire on you or lead to lengthy litigation. Out of more than 40 major metropolitan police services contacted by the To post, none had made vaccination compulsory.

“I hate to sound like I don’t care, but I really don’t care,” said Vince Champion, the Southeastern regional director of the Atlanta-based International Brotherhood of Police Officers, said about low vaccination rates. “It’s a personal decision. We are fighting [the virus] everyday. We are among all the diseases in the world. “

Officers expressed nervousness about the novelty of the shots and how quickly they have been developed, while believing they can avoid the virus with proper protective gear, the To post reported. And many officers believe previous COVID-19 infections gave them immunity, said Sean Smoot, director and chief legal counsel of the Police Benevolent and Protective Association of Illinois. This assumption flies in the face of federal health guidelines, which state that recovered people should be vaccinated because the length of time the infection confers protection is unknown.


Many colleges will require vaccination in the fall

More than 100 U.S. colleges will require students to receive coronavirus vaccines if they want to be on campus in the fall, according to a new survey.

More than 660,000 cases have been linked to universities since the start of the pandemic, including a third of those reported since January 1. The New York Times reported.

Schools such as DePaul University, Emory University and Wesleyan University require that all students be vaccinated, the Time survey found. Others said they were asking athletes or those who live on campus to get the shot. Most allow medical, religious and other exemptions, according to the survey.


Although private colleges make up the majority of schools with immunization mandates, some public universities have also moved to require vaccines, the Time mentionned.

Students and employees at the University of Maryland will need to get vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall, Chancellor Jay Perman said. He said he was particularly concerned about the B.1.1.7 variant, which he described in his announcement last week as more contagious, the newspaper reported.


“This is what we are preparing for, more infectious and harmful variants that we believe could be circulating on our campuses in the fall,” Permanente said.

At least two dozen colleges, including those in California’s public university system, have said they will need vaccines after the United States Food and Drug Administration gives full approval for the three coronavirus vaccines. currently approved for emergency use in the United States, the Time reported.

Many schools that do not require vaccination instead offer incentives to encourage students to get vaccinated. Baylor University in Texas and Calvin University in Michigan have both announced that students who have been vaccinated can skip the mandatory COVID-19 test, the newspaper said.

The University of Wyoming is offering vaccinated students and staff a chance to enter a weekly raffle for prizes such as tickets to football or basketball games and Apple products, the Time reported. Employees who are fully vaccinated are eligible for a personal day off.

As of Monday, more than 147 million Americans had received their first vaccine, while 104.7 million had had their second, according to data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States topped 32.4 million on Monday, while the death toll topped 577,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Globally, nearly 153 million cases were reported as of Monday, with more than 3.2 million people dying from COVID-19.


More information

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the novel coronavirus.

SOURCES: The New York Times; Washington Post; CNN

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