Experts say it is possible that the U.S. may achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus as early as July.
In a video for MedPage Today, Dr Monica Gandhi, of the University of California San Francisco, said the nation will only be able to curb virus spread between vaccination coverage and natural immunity.
There are currently 27 million confirmed cases of the virus, suggesting 8.2 percent of the population has been infected.
But Makary and Gandhi say they believe that the true figure lies closer to 30 percent of Americans.
Most experts say at least 70 people will have to be immunized or infected for the country to see true herd immunity.
Between the number of infections and the 13 percent of Americans who have already received at least one vaccine dose, Gandhi say we could see herd immunity by the summer.
Dr Monica Gandhi, of the University of California San Francisco, said in an interview for MedPage Today (picutred) that the U.S. could see herd immunity by July 2021
There are currently 27 million confirmed cases of the virus, suggesting 8.2% of Americans have been infected (above), but most models suggests the true number of infections is closer to 30% of the population infected, with about 98 million cases
Gandhi says around 70% is needed for herd immunity, meaning around 40% of the population would have to be vaccinated. Pictured: The daily number of vaccinations, which is currently average about 1.4 million per day
‘If we said 30 percent have had natural infection in this country – and it’s probably more – we’d have to get 40 percent more with our vaccines,’ Gandhi said.
‘And yes we’re gonna keep having natural infection, but we’d rather get there by vaccines because we have them, it’s safer, you don’t want people to get sick.
‘Let’s get vaccines into people’s arms and get to 70 [percent] as fast as possible. So do I think we can get to 70 [percent] by July? I do.’
Even though deaths remain high, public health experts have been seeing newly confirmed cases and hospitalizations falling over the last several weeks.
On Monday, the U.S. recorded fewer than 86,928 new cases of the virus – the first time since November 3 that the daily number of infections has been a five-figure number.
Hospitalizations have also continued to drop with 81,439 patients admitted as of Sunday – the fourth consecutive day with under 90,000 after two months above that threshold.
This has led to many predict that the latest surge is over and that we’re on our way to herd immunity.
Several studies have shown that people who fall ill with coronavirus have immunity for at least some time.
A recent study out of the UK followed 6,614 people had previously been infected with COVID-19. Just 44 people, less than one percent, were reinfected.
‘If reinfection was a prominent part of the disease, let’s admit it…we would be seeing reinfection after reinfection after reinfection,’ Gandhi said.
‘It’s probably going to be life-long [immunity] or very long, like 10 years.’
Most experts believe the 27 million confirmed cases is a severe undercount and only presents a portion of the true number of infections in the country.
Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) models estimated that between February and January 2020, there were closer to 83.1 million infections in the U.S., or 25 percent.
Makary and Gandhi say the number may be closer to 30 percent, suggesting 98.4 million people.
Around 13% have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which has been shown to provide up to 50% protection
‘Even asymptomatic infection can give durable immunity so, yes, I think a lot of people already have it,’ Gandhi said.
According to data from the CDC, 42.4 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
More than 32.3 million have received one dose, which clinical trial data has shown can offer up to 50 percent of protection – and 9.5 million have received both doses.
This also means likely another 13 percent of the population has some level of immunity against the virus from shots.
The average number of shots going into arms in the two weeks since President Joe Biden’s inauguration has been around 1.4 million per day on average, more than the president’s original goal of one million per day but less than his new goal of 1.5 million per day.
‘We have to do better, with the vaccination, but I think we can get to 70 percent herd immunity by July 2021,’ Gandhi said.