September 25, 2020

7M+ Americans have had the coronavirus. Are we getting close to herd immunity?

Daily Briefing

    The latest data shows more than seven million cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the United States since the country's epidemic began—and federal health officials say the country has a long way to go before achieving herd immunity against the virus.

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    US new coronavirus cases surpass 7M, deaths top 202K

    U.S. officials as of Friday morning reported a total of 7,004,600 cases of the novel coronavirus virus since the country's epidemic began—up from 6,959,400 cases reported as of Thursday morning.

    America's total of confirmed coronavirus cases represents more than 20% of the total number of cases reported worldwide, Reuters reports.

    U.S. officials this week reported an average of 43,000 new coronavirus cases per day—up 16% from last week's daily average. The latest data suggests that the rate of new coronavirus cases is once again beginning to surge in the United States, with spikes in new cases occurring primarily in the West and Midwest.

    According to data from the New York Times, the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases are "staying high" in Puerto Rico and 18 states that have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    Meanwhile, the rate of newly reported cases over the past seven days is "going down" in Guam, which had previously seen elevated case rates.

    Eleven states that have had comparatively low case rates are now seeing those rates "going up," according to the Times. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.

    In the 23 remaining U.S. states and territories, rates are "staying low," according to the Times' analysis.

    U.S. officials as of Friday morning also reported a total of 202,707 deaths linked to the coronavirus since the country's epidemic began—up from 201,822 deaths reported as of Thursday morning.

    Top health officials say US is far from achieving herd immunity against coronavirus

    Although the coronavirus has continued to spread throughout America, federal health officials say the country remains far from reaching herd immunity against the novel pathogen.

    Herd immunity occurs when enough people in a population have developed long-lasting immunity to a virus or disease, either through infections or vaccinations. According to the World Health Organization, 60% to 80% of a community's population must have natural antibodies to a virus or be vaccinated against the pathogen to reach herd immunity.

    During a live-streamed Smithsonian Associates event on Wednesday, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the United States has a "long way to go" to achieve herd immunity against the novel coronavirus. Fauci said the country is "nowhere near herd immunity yet," adding that the mean infection rate in the United States likely "is around 2% to 3%."

    Separately, CDC Director Robert Redfield during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Wednesday said his agency "is in the process of a very large, sequential study across the entire United States, measuring" the presence of antibodies to the novel coronavirus, which will be finalized and likely "published in the next week or so."

    Redfield said, "The preliminary results on the first round show that a majority of our nation—more than 90% of the population—remains susceptible" to the novel coronavirus.

    However, Redfield noted that some parts of the United States are more susceptible to the virus than others. "It varies in different geographic parts from states that have less than 1% with evidence of previous infection, to some that have more than 15, 20 and one as high as 24%," he said (Maan/Abraham, Reuters, 9/24; Guzman, "Changing America," The Hill, 9/23; Japsen, Forbes, 9/23; New York Times, 9/25).

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