Many Americans are already getting their vaccines for Covid-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says most Americans will be eligible for the vaccine by April.
This timing is very interesting, as a recent op-ed written in the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Marty Makary suggests that herd immunity may take effect by April.
While it is true that many others in the medical field have been very dismissive of the term “herd immunity,’ Dr. Makary suggests that it is the “inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination.”
Other experts such as CDC director Dr. Rochelle Wallensky dispute these claims, saying that the U.S. hasn’t yet vaccinated enough people to reach herd immunity.
There certainly is reason for optimism though, as it does appear that the amount of cases is decreasing rapidly.
Newsweek has the story:
Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon and a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, believes that the coronavirus will be "mostly gone" by April.
In an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Makary argued that half of the U.S. has already reached herd immunity because there are more coronavirus cases in the country, possibly 6.5 times as many, than the 28 million that have been reported.
Combined with the 15 percent of Americans who have already begun receiving the vaccine, the doctor argued that normal life will return by the spring.
"There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection," Makary wrote. "As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect COVID will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life."
Herd immunity has been a controversial subject over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. The term is used to describe what happens when the virus can no longer widely spread because a large proponent of the population is no longer susceptible.
During the pandemic, some politicians have suggested letting most of society return to normal so that the virus could run its course. But many epidemiologists have repeatedly shut down the idea, arguing that it's not a defensible plan and pointing to the fact that it would lead to a catastrophic loss of lives with no guarantee that immunity would be achieved.
In the U.S., more than 490,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
Markary argued that while the topic of natural immunity has often been rejected by most experts in the medical field due to a lack of data, the observational data is showing the majority of Americans may already be protected not only from COVID-19 but also its new variants.
"But the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity," Makary wrote. "Behavior didn't suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don't explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in."
Here's more on Dr. Makary's op-ed from the Wall Street Journal:
I have argued for months that we could save more American lives if those with prior Covid-19 infection forgo vaccines until all vulnerable seniors get their first dose. Several studies demonstrate that natural immunity should protect those who had Covid-19 until more vaccines are available. Half my friends in the medical community told me: Good idea. The other half said there isn’t enough data on natural immunity, despite the fact that reinfections have occurred in less than 1% of people—and when they do occur, the cases are mild.
But the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.
My prediction that Covid-19 will be mostly gone by April is based on laboratory data, mathematical data, published literature and conversations with experts. But it’s also based on direct observation of how hard testing has been to get, especially for the poor. If you live in a wealthy community where worried people are vigilant about getting tested, you might think that most infections are captured by testing. But if you have seen the many barriers to testing for low-income Americans, you might think that very few infections have been captured at testing centers. Keep in mind that most infections are asymptomatic, which still triggers natural immunity.
Many experts, along with politicians and journalists, are afraid to talk about herd immunity. The term has political overtones because some suggested the U.S. simply let Covid rip to achieve herd immunity. That was a reckless idea. But herd immunity is the inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination. When the chain of virus transmission has been broken in multiple places, it’s harder for it to spread—and that includes the new strains.
Herd immunity has been well-documented in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where researchers in the Lancet reported the prevalence of prior Covid-19 infection to be 76%, resulting in a significant slowing of the infection. Doctors are watching a new strain that threatens to evade prior immunity. But countries where new variants have emerged, such as the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, are also seeing significant declines in daily new cases. The risk of new variants mutating around the prior vaccinated or natural immunity should be a reminder that Covid-19 will persist for decades after the pandemic is over. It should also instill a sense of urgency to develop, authorize and administer a vaccine targeted to new variants.
Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.
Dr. Makary is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, chief medical adviser to Sesame Care, and author of “The Price We Pay.”
Many believe that we are very close to herd immunity, even if it isn't quite as soon as April.
Natalie E. Dean, who is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the University of FL, thinks the likely answer to the sudden drop in cases is more of a mixed bag.
She tackled the question on Twitter and had this to say:
"Taken together, I think the most likely explanation is a mix of policy and individual-level behavior change, as people react to what they see in the news and in their communities, but helped along by acquired immunity due to widespread infection plus targeted vaccination."