Attaining Herd Immunity

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The Omicron COVID variant has proven to be a “good-news-bad-news” scenario. The good news is that it has proven to be relatively mild, much less likely than previous strains to seriously or kill people who are fully vaccinated.


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The bad news is that it’s spreading at what ex-president Donald Trump might describe as “warp speed.” In addition, the Omicron variant is very disproportionately infecting – and sometimes killing – Americans who are unvaccinated.

But now, there’s finally some good news. Trump is now urging his ardently devoted followers to get themselves vaccinated. Nearly a year late to the party, the ex-resident has finally been persuaded that this about face will be to his political advantage.

Herd Immunity

Still, things will clearly get still worse before they begin to get better, perhaps next spring when the weather gets warmer. The daily number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will continue rising sharply, but so too will the number of Americans who will attain immunity.

Epidemiologists agree that herd immunity will be attained when between eighty to ninety percent of a nation’s population is either fully vaccinated or has recently had the virus. At that point the virus will have stopped spreading.

But will that state of grace ever be reached in the United States? Will the Trump conversion and the immunizing effects of the Omicron virus be enough to get us to herd immunity?

Getting Vaccinated

Right now, sixty-two percent of all Americans are fully vaccinated. We lag far behind China, South Korea and Spain, all of which attained vaccination rates of over eighty percent.

Even more depressing, we have already harvested most of our low-hanging fruit. Those most receptive to getting the shots have already done so. The people left behind are primarily the great horde of Trump followers — the large majority of whom would be loath to give up their freedom-loving opposition, even though their dear leader just told them that it was finally time to do so.

Getting an additional twenty to thirty percent of our citizens to agree to be vaccinated means persuading the hard core of the anti-vaxxers to do a sharp about-face. That would call for a major miracle that even “a very stable genius” would have trouble pulling off.