With coronavirus variants and people hesitant about getting vaccinated, scientists and health experts now believe herd immunity may not be reached any time in the near future.
Instead, a New York Times report says COVID-19 will most likely become a constant by manageable threat in the United States. Hospitalization and deaths from the virus will still happen, just on a smaller scale.
Vaccines are being distributed much too slowly to compete with new variants of the virus that spread quickly and easily. This puts herd immunity out of reach for years to come.
“The virus is unlikely to go away,” Rustom Antia, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told the outlet. “But we want to do all we can to check that it’s likely to become a mild infection.”
Even the Biden administration’s top coronavirus adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is now echoing Antia’s sentiment. Fauci referred to herd immunity as “mystical.”
“People were getting confused and thinking you’re never going to get the infections down until you reach this mystical level of herd immunity, whatever that number is,” he said.
“That’s why we stopped using herd immunity in the classic sense,” Fauci added. “I’m saying: Forget that for a second. You vaccinate enough people; the infections are going to go down.”
Health experts agree that people receiving vaccinations are the key to getting the virus numbers down. This will aid in keeping the number of hospitalizations and deaths to a minimum.
So far, 56 percent of U.S. adults have received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. More than 40 percent are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.