Experts Say It’s Unlikely United States Will Reach Herd Immunity

by : Julia Banim on : 03 May 2021 17:40
Experts Say It's Unlikely United States Will Reach Herd ImmunityPA Images

Health experts have said that it’s unlikely the United States will achieve herd immunity in the foreseeable future, if at all.

More than half of US adults have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, however a drop in the rates of daily vaccinations has sparked concern.


There is reportedly widespread consensus among public health experts that herd immunity cannot be attained, with coronavirus likely becoming a manageable threat that will continue circulating in the US for years.

Vaccine USPA Images

As reported by The New York Times, it’s expected that there will still be coronavirus-related hospitalisations and deaths going forward, but to a far lesser extent.

The extent to which the virus can be controlled will depend on how quickly the US and the rest of world can be vaccinated, as well as on how the coronavirus evolves.


Rustom Antia, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told The New York Times:

The virus is unlikely to go away. But we want to do all we can to check that it’s likely to become a mild infection.

Some experts had previously believed herd immunity could be possible by the summer, and it’s feared this shift in thinking could deter more people from getting the jab.

PAPA Images

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the White House’s top medical adviser on coronavirus, told The New York Times:

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.

That’s why we stopped using herd immunity in the classic sense. I’m saying: Forget that for a second. You vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down.

Earlier on in the pandemic, it was estimated that the target herd immunity would be around 60-70% of the US population, a percentage many expected could be reached once vaccines rolled out.

However, threshold estimates rose as vaccines were developed and distribution increased throughput the winter months and into the spring, with initial estimations based on the contagiousness of the original version of coronavirus.


Experts have now calculated that the herd immunity threshold would have to be at least 80%, a figure that would be revisited in the future should more variants of the virus develop.

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus and want up to date advice, visit the Gov.uk help page here. If you need medical help call NHS 111 or visit online.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Coronavirus, Now, US


The New York Times
  1. The New York Times

    Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe