Estimated 73% of US now immune to omicron: Is that enough?


The waves of Omicron that hit the United States this winter also strengthened its defenses, leaving ample protection against the coronavirus, and future surges may not require dramatic disruption to society.

Millions of individual American immune systems are now virus And if they encounter Omicron, or another variant, they are ready to repel it.

Approximately half of eligible Americans have received booster shots, with a total of approximately 80 million confirmed infections and no more reported infections. In one influential model, using these and other factors, 73% of Americans are currently immune to the predominant variant, Omicron, to 80% by mid-March. We estimate that it may rise.

This has the potential to prevent or shorten new illnesses in protected people, reduce the amount of virus that circulates overall, and block new waves. Experts agree that the hospital will take a break from the overwhelming ICU.

“We have changed,” said Ali Mokudad, a professor of health metric science at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We are exposed to this virus and know how to deal with it.”

Coronavirus — current variant or Future Always pops up — remains a dangerous bacterium. It still infects more than 130,000 Americans and kills more than 2,000 every day. Tens of millions of people remain vulnerable.

and, Future outbreak.. The concept of “herd immunity”, which has the potential to block the virus, has disappeared under the harsh reality of new variants, weakened immunity, and rejection of vaccines by some Americans.

But the coronavirus is no longer new. Two years ago, the immune system arrived in a country that no one had ever seen. The entire population (330 million) was immunologically naive. In other words, it was easy to get infected.

“I’m optimistic even if it surges in the summer. There will be more cases, but no more hospitalizations or deaths,” he said, working on the Institute for Health Metrics model, which calculated 73% of the Associated Press figures. Mokudad says. push.

With varying degrees of security and caution, many Americans are beginning to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyle.

Sarah Rixen, 41, from Bismarck, North Dakota, took a year off and started singing again in a civic chorus. Now that Omicron is declining, she said she is more confident than ever since the crisis began.

“But I’m still a little worried that there may be another variant around the corner,” Rixen said, saying that most of her family and her relatives were completely vaccinated. .. “I’m still going to wear a mask.”

As Obligation of mask Easily, workers go back to office When the flight is full, experts are trying to figure out if this return to normal will continue, or if another retreat is imminent.

To address this, researchers are trying to answer questions about viruses, vaccines, and how our bodies react: how fast is booster protection declining against Omicron? How long will protection from infection last? Haven’t any mild infections been reported? How many people have been infected, but have no symptoms?

To find clues, they use health data from other countries such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, South Africa and Qatar to predict what is stored.

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health estimate that three out of four people in the United States are infected. Omicron By the end of the surge.

Sean Truelab, an epidemiologist and disease modeler at Johns Hopkins, said: “This varies widely from place to place, and in some areas the number of infections is expected to be close to half.”

In other words, different regions and groups of people have different levels of protection and different risks. In Virginia, disease modelers think of the population in terms of groups with different levels of immunity.

They estimate that about 45% of Virginia citizens have the highest levels of immunity due to booster vaccination or vaccination and recent Omicron infections. Another 47% have slightly weakened immunity. And 7% are the most vulnerable because they are neither vaccinated nor infected.

Bryan Ruiz, a computational epidemiologist who heads the COVID-19 modeling team at the University of Virginia, said that, overall, the majority of Virginia citizens have at least some degree of immunity.

“It will be a great armor shield for our entire population,” Lewis said. “If we reach a very low case rate, we can certainly relax some of these restrictions.”

Still, the population is better protected, but many individuals are not. Even the most optimistic estimates of artificial immunity are still vulnerable to as many as 80 million Americans. This is about the same as the total number of infections confirmed in the United States during a pandemic.

“26% of the people who still have Omicron still need to be very careful,” said Mokudad.

Andrew Pekosi, a virus researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is concerned that people, especially unvaccinated Omicron survivors, may have false reassurance. “In an ideal world, unvaccinated individuals infected with Omicron would be lined up for vaccination,” he said.

Also, estimating protection is far from accurate science. As immunity weakens and new variants become available, it is a moving target. Protection varies greatly from person to person. And it is impossible to know for sure how many people are protected. The IHME model estimates a wide range from 63% to 81% of Americans.

“We’ve reached a much better position in the coming months, but we shouldn’t take that for granted because our immunity is weak,” Mokudad said.


Contributed by Dave Kolpack, AP writer in Fargo, North Dakota.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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