Will the US Reach COVID Herd Immunity?
Vaccination has been shown to be an effective measure to combat disease. As the World Health Organization (WHO) Bulletin proclaims, “Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide.” Prior to the pandemic, there were vaccines for 17 diseases, many of which have prevented or eliminated critical public health crises, such as chicken pox, measles, mumps, and tetanus.
The latest vaccine is against COVID-19. In the United States, there are currently two COVID vaccines that have been approved by the FDA – the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the success of vaccines to combat the COVID pandemic is dependent on whether enough people take it in order to achieve herd immunity. In a November 2020 report by McKinsey & Company, the end of COVID is not expected until the end of 2021 – “In the United States, while the transition to normal might be accomplished sooner, the epidemiological end point looks most likely to be reached in the second half of 2021.” This estimate is shared by Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) but he cautioned that his estimate is “dependent on significant numbers of Americans being willing to be inoculated with one of several vaccines in various stages of development.” Between 75 to 80 percent of Americans need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity against COVID.
Whether enough people in the US are inoculated against COVID to achieve herd immunity is questionable. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 27% of Americans are hesitant to take a COVID vaccine, “saying they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine even if it were available for free and deemed safe by scientists.” If this survey holds true, the US may not achieve COVID herd immunity.
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