Herd immunity is the goal that Los Angeles has been chasing for several months now.
Reaching herd immunity would allow the city to return to its pre-covid normal.
It turns out that reaching herd immunity is more challenging than initially thought.
There are two difficult questions people are starting to ask.
Can we reach herd immunity?
What happens if we don’t?
Why do we want herd immunity?
The reason we want to reach herd immunity is simple; we want to go back to normal.
For Los Angeles, that would mean Lakers and Dodgers games mask-free. It would mean trips to Universal Studious or Disneyland, and much more.
How close are we?
The number we need to hit to reach herd immunity is a moving target. Experts don’t agree on a specific number.
Dr. Fauci has changed his estimate multiple times. He puts heard immunity somewhere between 70%-90%.
Biggest potential problem
Thankfully, we have plenty of vaccines. The supply is not the problem.
The problem is vaccine skepticism. Getting 70%-90% of people vaccinated is an ambitious goal. It’s so ambitious that it becomes nearly impossible if people don’t want to get vaccinated.
It’s hard to predict how many people won’t get vaccinated, but many sources place the number around 30%.
If that number is accurate, we won’t reach herd immunity.
What the experts are saying
“Rather than concentrating on an elusive number, let’s get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can.”-Dr. Fauci
Dr. Gregory Poland has more or less ruled out the possibility of herd immunity.
“It’s theoretically possible but we as a society have rejected that. There is no eradication at this point, it’s off the table. The only thing we can talk about is control.”-Dr. Poland
What no herd immunity would mean for Los Angeles
Now that herd immunity looks unlikely, what does that mean for Los Angeles?
Measles vs. the flu
It’s first important to understand the difference between Measles and the flu.
Most Americans can go through their entire life without worrying about Measles. The Measles vaccine is given to more than 90% of children.
The flu, on the other hand, is entirely different. Every year people get the flu, even though we have a vaccine for it. We focus much more on containing the flu rather than wiping it out.
At this point, it seems likely that Covid will be more like the flu than Measles.
Even with vaccines, people will still get Covid.
It’s hard to predict what that will mean for Covid measures.
Will we always wear masks?
Are full stadiums or concerts a thing of the past?
We really don’t know for sure.
Covid not being eliminated is not as bad as it sounds.
We have the flu every year, and we don’t shut down or change our lives at all.
Israel, which has the highest vaccination rate globally, is a good sign of things to come.
According to Christina Ramirez, a biostatistics professor:
“As soon as vaccination rates hit 50%, you saw cases and deaths just start to plummet.”
All the real-world data supports the idea that vaccines work. They make people much less likely to fall severely ill or die. They lower the risk of death to a point where the risk is acceptable.
Even though we won’t reach literal herd immunity, we will reach a point where we largely ignore Covid, just like the flu.