COVID-19 Vaccination goal by July 4:
67% or 70%, does it make any difference?
- some experts believe the United States not being successful in reaching its goal of a 70 percent vaccination rate by July 4 means that several million Americans will have not to receive even 1 dose of vaccine by the holiday.
- Experts say the threshold for herd immunity for COVID-19 is changing because of the rise of more contagious variants of coronavirus.
- They believe the United States can look at successful vaccinations done in the past to decide what is the best way to fight COVID-19.
SETTING A VACCINATION GOAL BY JULY 4
In May, President Joe Biden asked Americans to rally the country to hit a 70% vaccination threshold by July 4.
Will we reach that vaccination rate?
On Sunday, Independence Day says that this goal seems out of reach: just around 67% of adults in the United States will have received one dose (or two doses) of the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s close, but it’s not an insignificant gap.
Is 2% a small shortfall?
Hannah Sally, an epidemiologist for Informa Pharma Intelligence, says 2 to 3 percent may sound like a relatively small shortfall, but it represents 3.4 to 5.3 million people who are not vaccinated. she added if we consider the current rate of vaccination stands about 1 million doses a day, we can assume that it would take about a week past the deadline to reach the goal of 70 percent.
The most important factor affecting Herd immunity
But this won’t be enough probably. There are different ideas about herd immunity against COVID-19, which is complicated by many factors; thus, experts estimate different percentages of America’s population that should get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
The challenges we face
Sally believes a major variable in keeping the number of vaccinations lower than it should be, is lack of fear in some young people. She says only about 49% of people between 18 and 124 years old have received on or both doses. In people over 65 years old, this rate is more than 85%. She said that younger adults not being interested in getting vaccinated is a major challenge and may prevent the progress toward reaching the 70% goal.
THE SHIFT IN THRESHOLDS
Experts say estimations of herd immunity coming at a vaccination rate of 60-70% were optimistic. The situation has changed.
Dr. Robert Quigley, the global medical director of health and security at International SOS Assistance, told that in addition to other untold things, the development of coronavirus variants has increased the reproductive number R of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. consequently, herd immunity -whether through infection or vaccination- will be difficult to achieve.
Quigley also added that there is no doubt the delta variant, which is highly transmissible and causes more severe illness, remains a threat; particularly for unvaccinated people. Low vaccination rates will continue to be a risk in regions and communities with low vaccination rates, even when we reach the national threshold.
Since the problem is evolving be variants appearing, it’s difficult to predict the future.
About the variants, Dr. Supriya Narasimhan, the chief of infectious diseases at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in California said the Delta variant is said to be more transmissible than alpha; and we know alpha was already 50 percent more transmissible than the parent strain. He added that Public Health England estimates delta 64% more infectious than alpha. We may need to vaccinate 85% of the population to reach herd immunity against this variant. Narasimhan also said in fact, we are in a race to vaccinate people against the virus and variant evolution.
LEARNING FROM HISTORY
Dr. José Mayorga, an assistant clinical professor of family medicine at the University of California at Irvine, believes that we can learn how to beat COVID-19 by looking at the history.
What does history tell us?
He says if we think about other contagious diseases we have been able to abolish in our country using vaccination, it has been all because of the high uptake in vaccine rates. Mumps, tetanus, and polio are good examples of such diseases. Answering the question about the outcomes of not having a large percentage of the country vaccinated, or a little dip in rates of vaccination, he said communicable diseases will return and cause micro-outbreaks.
How will 2 percent less vaccination affect society?
Mayorga said he can mention measles as a case that has recently happened. In recent years, we’ve heard about measle outbreaks caused by lowered/waned vaccination rates; this has an undeniable consequence to everyone. He notes that vaccinating 2 percent fewer people for contagious diseases like measles and COVID-19 can have a significant impact.
He said getting vaccinated will help all people, especially those who can’t get the vaccine. Reaching an acceptable vaccination rate will act as a wall around our young children and help them and virus can’t attack them.