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Can California reach herd immunity before the rest of the country?



Early with the release of the vaccine in December, experts – including COVID-19 King Dr. Anthony Fauci – said the United States would see an end to the pandemic when a significant portion of the population was shot and the population reached herd immunity.

Now some experts say the country may never reach herd immunity. Widespread material in the New York Times on Monday says more virulence options and vaccine variability keep the target out of reach.

But while many states in the country are facing jumps and vaccine rejections, California is in a good position with the lowest percentage in the country – and a population that mostly wants the vaccine. The badly affected Los Angeles County did not report any deaths from COVID-1

9 on Sunday, and for the first time in 410 days, the county did not report at least one death.

Can the Golden State – and in particular the Gulf region – reach herd immunity before the rest of the country?


No one knows for sure, but local experts hope California is heading for herd immunity, or at least a point where the transmission rate will soon be extremely low.

“I think we’ll get there before the rest of the United States,” said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Global Epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “I think the rest of the United States will catch up with him or get to a point where the show is going downhill.”

“There is likely to be ‘regional herd immunity’ long before true ‘herd immunity’ in a national or global landscape,” said Dr Peter Chin-Hong, a professor in the UCSF’s Department of Infectious Diseases.

Herd immunity is the point at which a significant percentage of the population is immunized due to vaccination or a previous illness. When it is achieved, the spread of the disease from person to person becomes weak and the whole community becomes protected, not just the immune system.

No one knows for sure what the threshold is, but Fauci and many other experts have been estimating for months that somewhere between 70% and 85% of the population must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

Chin-Hong explained that when communities in the Gulf region reach this threshold, many local constraints will continue to diminish and “will allow us to strive for the life we ​​had before 2020.”

But while life will become more normal for vaccinated people when activities begin, he said true herd immunity “will be elusive for several years.” This is due to three things: the variability of the vaccine, the constant creation of virus variants and, above all, the lack of up-to-date global vaccine capital.

“While most of us in all countries cannot be immunized, there will be too many circulating viruses for us to have fun like 2019,” Chin-Hong said, referring to the spread of the virus and its variants through global travel. . “Until then, he will play a catch-up game.”

While California may have seen a sharp drop in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, nearby states – including Washington and Oregon – have seen jumps among younger residents.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific, India’s health systems are overloaded and there is a shortage of medical oxygen. The country saw its deadliest day since the May 2 pandemic with 3,689 deaths. In India, less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated.

In the United States, vaccinations give hope: 44% of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 31% have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the San Francisco Bay Area, those numbers are even higher. In Marin County, 83% of the population aged 16 and over received at least one dose, and 62% completed a series. In San Francisco, 72% of adults received at least one shot, while 49% were fully vaccinated. In Santa Clara, 70% have started a series of vaccines and 43% have completed the vaccination.

Dr Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at UCSF, said she believes California and the Gulf region can reach herd immunity sooner than “we think”, and sets the immune herd threshold at 65% to 70 %.

“This is because you just have to look at the world stage to look at places that have higher levels of vaccination than us and open up to more mixing and see where their cases and hospitalization rates fall as vaccination increases. “, said Gandhi, pointing to a data table from yesterday from Israel, Britain and the United States. “With a 62% first-dose vaccination rate, Israel has 74 cases today out of more than 9 million people, a rate below 1 in 100,000. In California today we have 1,512 infections, and in San Francisco there are 17 infections despite ongoing tests and “We have low mortality rates from COVID-19 with 0 deaths registered in Los Angeles County. All of this suggests that we will reach herd immunity with increasing levels of vaccination.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services map below shows estimates of the percentage of the population in each county that may fluctuate from the vaccine.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services map below shows estimates of the percentage of the population in each county that may fluctuate from the vaccine.

US Department of Health and Human Services

About 30 percent of Americans are reluctant to get vaccinated on average, but their numbers are lower in California, with about 10 percent to 15 percent of Golden State residents’ vaccines hesitant, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. USA. Studies show that people who identify as Republicans are less likely to be vaccinated than Democrats, and vaccine variability in California is usually higher in the red districts, according to the department.

Rutherford hopes that people who initially refused the vaccine will change their minds.

“As it starts to get worse about what you can and can’t do if you’re vaccinated and haven’t been vaccinated, I think that’s going to encourage people to get vaccinated,” he said. “Because doing things like flying and going to the office requires vaccination, this idea that ‘I just don’t think I want to’ or ‘I just want to wait a while’ … is going to go away.”

Teenagers are another part of the puzzle for achieving herd immunity. While transmission of the virus is low among young children, who are unlikely to have access to vaccines by 2020, teenagers are spreading the virus as adults, and vaccination is crucial, experts say.

Vaccinations for this age group are coming soon, as the Food and Drug Administration is expected to allow the Pfizer shot for those aged 12 to 15 early next week, according to The New York Times.

“I think we could see something very close to herd immunity in California this summer if teenagers get vaccinated,” Rutherford said. “The Bay Area could see herd immunity before California.”


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