Despite President Biden’s pronouncement during the 2020 presidential campaign that he would “shut down” the coronavirus, a new report states that “top members of Biden’s COVID response team” are now estimating that herd immunity will not be reached in the United States until at least Thanksgiving 2021.
Biden stated last October 23, “I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m going to shut down the virus.” He added, “President Trump claims he found a cure. Well, let me tell you: yet we have 1000 people dying each day.”
Between Biden’s inauguration and February 6, the lowest number of deaths in one day across the nation was 1,876 on February 1. The highest number was 5,189 on February 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Despite his October predictions, this week Biden told CBS News that it would be “very difficult” to reach herd immunity “much before the end of the summer.” The Daily Beast wrote, “Other top officials working on the federal government’s COVID-19 response say they are uneasy about vaccine supply long term and the impact on herd immunity, and have begun to explore ways to expand U.S. manufacturing capacity.”
Although some studies have shown the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines combat the variant versions of the coronavirus successfully, officials are still worried about variant forms of the virus. “Officials have spent the last several days discussing ways to ramp up genome sequencing to track variants and how to push out the message that Americans need to more closely follow public health guidelines to reduce transmission as B117 variant cases begin to increase,” The Daily Beast reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he is “cautiously optimistic” herd immunity can be reached by fall 2021.
“I still think that is possible,” he said. “As I’ve said before, once we get into mass vaccination when the general public starts getting it by the end of the spring — April, May, June …and we get past any vaccine hesitancy, then we should be able to reach that 70 or 75 percent mark. We’re going in the right direction.”
Fauci added that the B117 variant “could become dominant by the end of March. … That’s the sobering news. The two things that we can do is, A, make sure we adhere to the public health measures … and, B, get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can.”
According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control, 699 variant cases have been confirmed in the U.S.
Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, added, “The more transmissible those strains of viruses, the higher threshold you need for herd immunity. The B117 variant … is very concerning. The good news is that even with B117 as a dominant variant in the UK and elsewhere … cases plummeted when people stop having contact, when people wore masks, when you have people not sharing indoor air with people not in your household. That is the key. We need to give a viral enemy less chance to speak.”
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