So Much For ‘Herd Immunity’

So Much For ‘Herd Immunity’

COVID-19 isn't going away. Increasingly, that's the consensus among experts, many of whom believe that between the proliferation of variants and a reluctance on the part of many Americans to be vaccinated, herd immunity simply isn't a realistic goal in the US. This rather stark conclusion was detailed Monday in an expansive article by Apoorva Mandavilli, writing for The New York Times. "There is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold i
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21 thoughts on “So Much For ‘Herd Immunity’

  1. Humanity was fortunate …..this time…..600K is a lot, imagine a virus with a 30-50% kill ratio….they exist…..likely will evolve…..what is catastrophic…..our response, and as you so well point out, our pseudo-patriots idiocy.

  2. That “poison” you describe seems like the true pandemic, and one that’s been with us since origination. A mind virus that no society in any period has ever found an inoculation for.

    1. You are right. Humanity has all the tools and resources needed to survive on this spaceship minus the one you mention. Hopefully there’s a new version of Homo after Sapiens that’s already in the pilot phase.

  3. Today Florida Governor and GOP presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis signed a new bill that he had championed into law.

    “the new law would also ban businesses from requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination in order to get service. The ban was already in place under an executive order he signed in late March. That order also barred government entities from issuing so-called “vaccine passports.”

    One less reason for doubters to get vaccinated.

    1. I’ve seen some of these bans on vaccination passports

      What I can’t stand more than anything is that they are being championed by Republicans who otherwise identify freedom of association as a core platform

    2. I really wonder what will happen to the Cruise industry as a result of this. They are largely requiring all passengers and crew to be vaccinated, might they change home ports to avoid Florida man?

      1. That’d be an excellent response, tbh. After all, the supposed superiority of having 50 different states each doing their thing is that you have “laboratories of democracy”, right?

        So Florida preemptively banned the providing of vaccination proof? Fine! Just get every other sensible state and sensible company to refuse to deal with Floridians outside of Florida… and let see what happens.

  4. Yes Covid was basically proof that the global human civilization is essentially non-viable in its present state. A true existential threat to humanity would wipe us out and we would barely manage to raise any defense. I’m still not entirely convinced that the global economy can really weather a prolonged infection with several new variants annually. Even if it is just a super flu… it lasts all summer and all winter… without herd immunity a sizeable chunk of the economy is permanently dead. If we ever just open up… hospitals will be overwhelmed. If we collapse the healthcare system death rates will skyrocket from all causes. Congress had better get writing the next stimulus now because in a few months we’ll see not enough is materially better for the average person even is the GDP is at all time highs. Service and Travel jobs are not coming back to pre-pandemic levels.

  5. About 12,000 yrs ago, earth hosted thousands of different homo sapien worlds. By 2000BC, the number of distinct human worlds had dwindled to the hundreds. By 1450, 90% of humans lived in a relatively small number of worlds- each connected by cultural, political and economic ties. (Paraphrasing from Sapiens)
    It seems that continuing “war” against deadly viruses, might be the next important issue to cooperate over (replacing religion?).
    It seems necessary and inevitable that we become one global group.

  6. “Make no mistake, the Founders wouldn’t be proud of someone who cut out the seatbelts in their car or refused to wear a small face covering during an epidemic. Rather, the Founders would likely be so dismayed at the sheer, blatant stupidity on display, that they may well have just scrapped the whole thing and returned to England, explaining that, having seen the future, they’re no longer confident in the wisdom of the grand project.”

    You’ll have to excuse me if I steal this quote and share it with everyone I know because it’s about the funniest damn thing I’ve read in quite some time!

  7. I don’t agree with the pessimism about herd immunity, but agree that it may not be achievable in the very near term or solely through vaccination.

    If, say, 70% ultimately get vaccinated (by end of summer, perhaps) and keep up with annual boosters that are revised as needed to address variants, that leaves 30% unvaccinated. Some of that 30% have already been infected and the rest will eventually get infected. The great majority of those infected will acquire natural immunity which, while inferior to vaccine-mediated immunity, will still be reasonably protective. Some of them will decide to join the vaccinated.

    If you assume a steady flow of variants that evade acquired immunity (like the P.1 variant) then the vax-refusers will enjoy repeated reinfections. Even more of them will eventually join the vaccinated.

    If you assume variants that are dramatically more lethal, then the vax-refusers’ numbers will decline faster, whether through a urgent change of attitude or mortality.

    This points to a future that looks something like this:

    2H2021. 80% (ish) of Americans have some degree of immunity: 70% via vaccination and 10% via acquired immunity. Covid continues to infect the remaining 20%. Cities and states cease most non-pharmaceutical interventions (shutdowns, mask mandates, etc). Case counts and hospitalization/mortality are significant relative to that 20%, but low relative to the population as a whole.

    90% (ish) of Americans have a degree of immunity: 80% via vaccination and 10% via acquired immunity. Covid continues to infect the remaining 10%, with regional and community variations very pronounced: in areas where >>90% are immune, case rates among the <<10% are low as they benefit from local herd immunity, while in other areas, case rates are high relative to that 10%, but very low relative the the population as a whole. For most Americans, the pandemic is basically largely over.

    This assumes the biopharma industry continues to aggressively develop and adjust vaccines for new variants, and vaccine supply becomes and remains ample. Both pretty fair assumptions, in the US and most developed economies. Developing countries will be a year or so behind.

    It won’t be good to be a vax-refuser in the next year or two, but the vaccinated will be leading normal lives. The global market for Covid vaccines will remain giant through 2022-2023 and fairly large thereafter (boosters, variant versions). Vaccines with material (or even non-material) safety issues will be abandoned, since the risk-benefit will change greatly in the coming year. Therapeutics will be a durable market. This seems like a good environment for vaccine and therapeutic drugs.

  8. Israel is an example of a country that has rapidly achieved herd immunity through vaccination alone. 81% vaccinated and Covid cases down -98.5%, all Covid restrictions gone and life back to normal.

    Shame that the US can’t emulate Israel. We’ll get there but it’ll take longer.

    1. Israel will never achieve herd immunity as they have failed to vaccinate their Palestinian population. Their Covid cases may be down 98% now, but they have lured themselves into a false sense of security, just as much of the US has as well. By not vaccinating the third world, we have insured that this will be an ongoing problem (read profit center for Big Pharma) far into the future.


      “ By April 3, 2021, 4?714?932 (72·1%) of 6?538?911 people aged 16 years and older were fully vaccinated with two doses of BNT162b2. Adjusted estimates of vaccine effectiveness at 7 days or longer after the second dose were 95·3% (95% CI 94·9–95·7; incidence rate 91·5 per 100?000 person-days in unvaccinated vs 3·1 per 100?000 person-days in fully vaccinated individuals) against SARS-CoV-2 infection, 91·5% (90·7–92·2; 40·9 vs 1·8 per 100?000 person-days) against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, 97·0% (96·7–97·2; 32·5 vs 0·8 per 100?000 person-days) against symptomatic COVID-19, 97·2% (96·8–97·5; 4·6 vs 0·3 per 100?000 person-days) against COVID-19-related hospitalisation, 97·5% (97·1–97·8; 2·7 vs 0·2 per 100?000 person-days) against severe or critical COVID-19-related hospitalisation, and 96·7% (96·0–97·3; 0·6 vs 0·1 per 100?000 person-days) against COVID-19-related death. In all age groups, as vaccine coverage increased, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 outcomes declined. 8006 of 8472 samples tested showed a spike gene target failure, giving an estimated prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant of 94·5% among SARS-CoV-2 infections.”

      I believe the 72% of “residents” includes Israelis of Palestinian descent, but not Palestinians in Gaza, who clearly need to be vaccinated as well – this has started but how effectively remains to be seen.

      Back to the US situation: an unvaccinated American is no different from an unvaccinated visitor from another country, in terms of herd immunity math. Unless the numbers of the latter are huge, the conclusion is not changed. Recall I am assuming vaccines are or can be made effective against variants, which is supported by data so far.

      Clearly, just as Israel should vaccinate residents of Gaza for both pragmatic and moral reasons, the US should help get the rest of the world vaccinated. However, local herd immunity in the US can be achieved regardless.

      1. “However, local herd immunity in the US can be achieved regardless.”

        Can be, but sadly unlikely. I guess you don’t live in the southern US.

  9. Not just the people, every element of society failed, including the medical establishment, the CDC, WHO, US government, and just about every other institution charged with taking care of the public. It’s impossible to overstate just how completely the US not just wouldn’t, but couldn’t. It became obvious, although no one said it, that the US simply lacked the operational capability to effectively handle this pandemic. It’s why no one talks about contact tracing. So, we just threw up our hands, opened up, and waited for the miracle vaccines to arrive. That’s it, that was the strategy.

  10. Perhaps not as dire, but I suspect, as ominous, is the fact that if, well, since we have proven ourselves incapable of confronting such a calamity where the corpses are piling up right in front of our faces, how can humanity possibly believe that it can stave off climate change by initiating the far more disruptive changes in our behavior doing so would necessitate? On a worldwide basis, no less. When the main culprit, the US (in terms of its per capita carbon footprint) depends on fracturing the earth’s crust, releasing methane at unprecedented amounts, to help feed its outsized energy appetite? The growth rate in the rig count during Biden’s first hundred days exactly parallels that of the Trump administration’s … as it would have to … how else to provide the enormous energy inputs in order to bring about the transition to a net-zero (lol) energy infrastructure than burning the only hi-density fuel we have available? Like herd immunity, the Green New Deal is a false hope, a chimera to allow us to pretend what is happening right in front of us will simply go away. Let Freedom Wring (our collective necks, apparently).

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