Sunday, June 26

Herd immunity drifts away from US despite surplus vaccines


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The US may not reach the desired moment when the Covid-19 pandemic will be left behind: the herd immunity, the situation in which there are so many people with defenses – either because of the disease or because of the vaccine – that the virus does not have the capacity to spread.

Reaching that goal in the race against covid was located in the environment of 65% -80% of the immunized population. The way to achieve it was through the vaccine, which has been achieved in record time.

The growing opinion among experts, however, is that herd immunity will not be achieved in the US, despite the fact that there are several approved vaccines and it is one of the few countries where no missing doses. In fact, all American adults are already eligible to get the vaccine and the country has an excess of doses contracted with the pharmaceutical companies.

The reason: too many Americans do not want to get the vaccine and the variants of the covid that are emerging are more contagious than at the beginning of the pandemic. For example, the so-called British strain infects 60% more than the original. It is possible that the one now affecting India has an also higher transmissibility. The calculations that were originally made to calculate the percentage of population needed for herd immunity may not work with these variants, and that could still get worse in the coming fall and winter.

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Vaccination, which has been going apace in the US since the beginning of the year, has slowed sharply. More than 55% of Americans have taken at least one dose, but more than half of those who are left without doing so say they will not wear it. Overall, about 30% of Americans are against the vaccine. And it shows in the drop in vaccinations per day: in mid-April, the average was 3.35 million per day, now it is below 2.3 million.

The scenario now looming is that the virus will continue for several years, but with low levels of hospitalizations and deaths, which will be better depending on the level of vaccination. For this reason, the authorities have stopped referring to herd immunity to continue putting the emphasis on continuing the vaccination campaign, as recognized by the Anthony Fauci, presidential adviser on the pandemic and director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. “People were getting confused into thinking that infections would not go down to that mythical level of herd immunity, whatever the number,” he told ‘The New York Times’. “That is why we have stopped using the term in the classical sense. What I’m saying now is: forget about it for a second. If you vaccinate more people, the infections will go down.

Furthermore, the US situation will be affected by the global evolution of the pandemic. There are regions with extremely low vaccination levels, which could be a breeding ground for new variants.

«Eradication, in my opinion, it is impossible in this situation», Defended before the New York newspaper Bray Pradelski, economist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Grenoble (France), who has published a study in ‘The Lancet’ on how to control outbreaks with tests and case monitoring. “What you can achieve is local elimination.”

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For some, failing to achieve herd immunity can have serious consequences. «With winter, there could be new variants coming from other countries and we would have to start this process again and have another huge pandemic next season, “Leana Wen, medical analyst for this television channel, told CNN.

Others are more optimistic and believe that normalcy will rebound if cases continue to decline. «We will not reach zeroMost likely, ”Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s medical school, told the same network. “But if we keep infections very low, most of us will be able to return to our normal lives. We can live with it, ”he said of the persistence of the virus.

For this, vaccination will be essential. And the strategies to get more people immunized, increasingly imaginative. The Krispy Kreme chain gives donuts to whoever show your vaccination certificate, several New Jersey breweries pay the first round to those vaccinated, and in West Virginia a $ 100 bonus is given to young people – the most reluctant group – who get immunized. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to cheer up the undecided who, for the moment, seem to put herd immunity out of reach of the United States.

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