For over a year, we have heard about daily cases of COVID-19 setting new records in this state or another. We have heard about the deaths, the hospitalizations, and more. Our savior is the vaccine. Millions of people are getting the vaccine daily.
Now we are hearing and reading that no matter what we do, the virus will be with us forever, which might worsen. Do not worry; keep wearing your face masks, washing your hands, and staying at least six feet away from everyone.
Herd Immunity Defined
https://www.path.org/articles/understanding-journey-herd-immunity/#:~:text=Herd%20immunity%20is%20a%20moving,into%20a%20completely%20susceptible%20population. Herd immunity is achieved when enough people in a populated area are protected from the disease in question. Protection can come from people surviving the disease or by vaccinations.
Herd immunity is dependent on how quickly the virus can infect others. R0 (R naught) is the measure of contagiousness and measures the number of secondary infections a single person can transmit to others. When R0 is less than 1, the spread of a disease decreases. When R0 is greater than 1, the transmission of the disease increases.
R0 might be above 1 in one community and below one in another community. https://www.tmc.edu/coronavirus-updates/effective-reproduction-rate-for-harris-county/ shows the R0 for the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. I have seen it above 1 for weeks at a time and below 1 for more than a week.
Herd immunity is nearly impossible without intervention – vaccinations and other precautions. Pandemics rarely achieve herd immunity when left untreated. Each disease has its own R0. The R naught for measles is in the range of 12 to 18. One person can infect 12 to 18 peoples. Ninety-five percent of a population must become immune to measles before herd immunity is achieved.
Our primary concern today is the COVID-19 pandemic. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has an R0 of between 2 and 3. Statistically, between 60 and 70 percent of a population must be immune to stop the spread of the virus and achieve herd immunity. When a vaccine is nearly 100% effective, 70% of the people can achieve herd immunity.
What happens when a vaccine is 75-80% effective? The herd immunity numbers increase – 75-90% is required to attain herd immunity. The same can be said when a virus mutates—the R0 changes as the transmissibility of the virus changes.
How long a vaccine is effective is another measure of herd immunity. When a vaccine loses its effectiveness, a virus can infect people who were vaccinated against it. We do not know how long a COVID-19 vaccine is effective, but we know that around 99% of those vaccinated are protected.
Protected does not mean that a person will never get the virus. It means that a small percentage might contract the virus when vaccinated; however, the severity and mortality of the virus are significantly reduced. Vaccines provide our bodies with the recognition factor to quickly discern a foreign invader and kill it before it can harm us.
The Doom and Gloom Forecasters
https://www.newsmax.com/health/headline/coronavirus-herd-immunity-united-states/2021/05/03/id/1019908/. With more than 50% of Americans vaccinated, a new strategy must be developed to keep us fearing this virus that 99% of most of us can survive. We must always protect the vulnerable! Older adults are more susceptible when exposed to the virus. Children under ten years of age are nearly invulnerable to the virus – getting it or passing it on to others.
The New York Times ( https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/03/health/covid-herd-immunity-vaccine.html) tells us that future viral variants and the demand for COVID-19 vaccine will fall short of herd immunity, and this virus will be with us for many more years, causing hospitalizations and deaths. Is a vaccine the real coronavirus panacea?
Statistically, a virus with an R0 of 2-3 should achieve herd immunity in the 60-70% range. Without explaining wh we are told that herd immunity now requires 80% of the population. Nothing changed regarding the R0 except the reporting. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations We know that over 80% of older Americans have had one shot, and over 70% have been fully vaccinated. Over 40% of the rest of the adult population has received both shots, and nearly 60% of that group has had their first vaccination.
Nearly 100 million people a month are getting vaccinated. Older Americans are nearly at the 80% protection level. Adults in the United States are rapidly approaching the 60% protection level. Children under 18 years old are getting vaccinated now. Children under ten years of age appear to have no risk of becoming infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
From my vantage point, the minimum requirements to achieve herd immunity are rapidly approaching. Yet, we are told we will never achieve it. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00728-2. Ninety percent of America could achieve herd immunity, but the small communities with 75% less could keep the virus alive and well forever.
At some point in time, those not infected and not vaccinated will become infected regardless of whether herd immunity is achieved. Will it be 100% of those hesitant to get the vaccine? Probably not. It is hard to say anything is 100%. Is it hard to believe that 90+% of the United States could effectively be protected a year from now?
I believe that the 10+% of those already surviving the virus, plus the 70% of adults, and increasing percentages of children, and those becoming infected in the future, will gradually add up to a level that herd immunity could be achieved.
However, we will hear that experts do not know how many months the vaccines are valid or that viral variants will make the vaccines ineffective. I ask the question – What about the other 100+ vaccines plus the 200+ other COVID-19 treatments? Will future research and development be for naught?
Vaccines protect most of us from becoming infected. There is no guarantee that those vaccinated could not get the virus and pass it on to others. The risks of hospitalization and death are significantly reduced.
Will coronavirus become a seasonal virus a year from now? Who knows? What happened to seasonal influenza this year? It was almost exterminated. I guess that herd immunity was reached for seasonal flu, and no one noticed.
Whether it is viral variants or car accidents, hospitalizations and deaths are part of our lives. Two years ago, we had never thought the entire world would experience a pandemic. What will our world look like two years in the future? Continue to take care of yourself, regardless of what you see and read.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughin.com