Experts say the U.S. may never reach herd immunity. Here’s why that matters
The New York Times reports that experts don’t see the country hitting herd immunity in the foreseeable future
- According to The New York Times, “There is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.”
Per The New York Times, experts believe “the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.”
It’s unclear what the future of the virus looks like, though, especially as vaccination numbers continue throughout the country and the world.
- “It is already clear, however, that the virus is changing too quickly, new variants are spreading too easily and vaccination is proceeding too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon,” according to The New York Times.
Rustom Antia, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told The New York Times: “The virus is unlikely to go away. But we want to do all we can to check that it’s likely to become a mild infection.”
Herd immunity timeline
It’s quite a telling moment that the entire country might never meet herd immunity. Reports in April suggested some states were getting close to herd immunity because of a combination of vaccinated residents and those who have antibodies from getting the virus, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, recently told “Meet the Press” that herd immunity could arrive in some states. But slowing vaccination numbers wouldn’t help the country reach total herd immunity.
- “There are other places that are way behind, and those are the places we all worry about as the next hot spot,” he said.
Why herd immunity matters
Collins suggested the U.S. needs to reach herd immunity for the virus to be eliminated. Getting vaccinated helps people get there.
- “If we’re going to be able to put COVID-19 behind us, we need to have all Americans take part in getting us to that point,” Collins told “Meet the Press.”