US Experts say that herd immunity is unlikely soon: report
Wisconsin Sen. Johnson questions need for vaccinations
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, questioned the need for widespread COVID-19 vaccinations, saying in a radio interview “what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” Johnson, who has no medical expertise or background, made the comments Thursday during an interview with conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna. Contrary to what medical experts advise, Johnson has said he doesn't need to be vaccinated because he had COVID-19 in the fall. On Thursday, he went further, questioning why anyone would get vaccinated or worry about why others have not. “For the very young, I see no reason to be pushing vaccines on people.” Johnson said.
Public health experts and scientists say they do not believe herd immunity is attainable for the near future due to dropping COVID-19 vaccination rates, The New York Times .
According to the experts who spoke with the Times, the coronavirus will more likely become a constant but manageable threat in the U.S. for several more years. New COVID-19 strains are also reportedly developing too quickly for herd immunity to be reasonably expected.
"The virus is unlikely to go away," Emory University evolutionary biologist Rustom Antia told the newspaper. "But we want to do all we can to check that it's likely to become a mild infection."
Even Without Herd Immunity, the U.S. Is Still Winning
We may never reach the point when viral spread stops, but a strategy of minimizing risk—not eliminating it—can help Americans reclaim normalcy.The underlying reality ought to be discussed more forthrightly. The United States may not reach the point at which enough people have become immune—by either getting vaccinated or having overcome a previous infection—and the coronavirus cannot spread in the population. This has been evident for some time. “We likely won’t cross the threshold of herd immunity,” Sarah Zhang wrote in The Atlantic in February. Yet the elusive possibility of herd immunity continues to shape Americans’ expectations.
The nation's top infectious disease expert and President Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, acknowledged a shift in thinking by experts who had once believed achieving herd immunity by summer was a possibility.
"People were getting confused and thinking you're never going to get the infections down until you reach this mystical level of herd immunity, whatever that number is," Fauci said to the Times, adding this was why he had stopped using the term "herd immunity."
"I'm saying: Forget that for a second. You vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down," he said.
Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch told the newspaper that vaccination is still the key to combatting the pandemic.
A high level of immunity "is not like winning a race," Lipsitch said. "You have to then feed it. You have to keep vaccinating to stay above that threshold."
Sen. Tim Scott says Congress is close to a police reform deal
Scott believes his compromise on qualified immunity will get police reform over the Senate finish line.Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate and one of just three Black Republicans in all of Congress, is the lead Republican in the Senate on police reform and was responsible for drafting the Justice Act, the GOP’s police reform bill. The bill failed to get 60 votes, the necessary Senate margin, in 2020, with the majority of Democrats voting against it for inadequately handling the problem. Meanwhile, Democrats’ bill, the more expansive George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, passed the House but was not taken up by the then-Republican Senate.
Initially, public health experts like Fauci had said herd immunity could be achieved by immunizing around 70 percent of the population. However, as new strains like the B.1.1.7 first detected in the U.K. began to crop up, that number was raised to around 80 or possibly even 90 percent.
If herd immunity is not attainable, t the most important goal will be to lower the rate of hospitalizations and deaths, experts told the Times, focusing on the most vulnerable populations.
"What we want to do at the very least is get to a point where we have just really sporadic little flare-ups," Carl Bergstrom, evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington, told the newspaper. "That would be a very sensible target in this country where we have an excellent vaccine and the ability to deliver it."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 56 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and over 40 percent are fully immunized.
One chart shows how dramatically the pace of vaccinations differs from country to country .
Israel, the US, the UK are getting shots into arms most quickly. Brazil, India, Japan, and South Korea trail further behind.The pace of vaccinations across the globe remains highly uneven: As of Monday, wealthy countries had received 83% of the world's vaccine supply, despite making up just 53% of the world's population, according to World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.