Masks gone by July? Or April? Depends on which paper you read
The achievement of herd immunity from COVID-19 in the United States—an occurrence that would drive crowds back to shops, restaurants, and theaters—could happen in July. Or April. It depends on whether you want to put more weight behind the estimates from the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.
A New York Times article published by Matthew Conlon and Charlie Smart on Feb. 20 used estimates made by the public health research group PHICOR after adding the number of fully vaccinated people to the number of coronavirus survivors to measure total immunity. When that group approaches 70% of the United States population, herd immunity is achieved—the point at which the disease ceases to spread because not enough unaffected Americans exist to spread it.
PHICOR figures that will happen sometime between July and August on the 2021 calendar.
Two days earlier in the Wall Street Journal, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Marty Makary wrote an op-ed piece entitled, “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April.” His hypothesis was based on the thinking that natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing.
Makary pointed out that antibody testing performed on people during the pandemic does not capture antigen-specific T-cells that develop “memory” when activated by a virus. In 2008, survivors of the Spanish Flu were found to still be producing disease antibodies 90 years after contracting it.
Add to that number of survivors the 15% of Americans who’ve been vaccinated and the 250 million doses that will have been delivered to an estimated 150 million people by March and our home-based herd of humans will be off the COVID hook by Easter, stated the doctor who teaches islet transplantation surgery that aids diabetics.
Makary wrote that many fellow medical experts agreed with his assessment, but urged him not to write the piece and risk having people walk away from the vaccine.
“But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth,” concluded Makary. “Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.”