Top members of President Joe Biden's coronavirus advisory team reportedly believe the United States may not reach COVID-19 "herd immunity" until much later than previously thought, meaning the goal posts for a return to normality could be pushed further into the future.
What is the background?
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Biden, predicted in December that America could reach the herd immunity threshold by the summer if the majority of Americans — 75% to 80% — are inoculated with the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021.
In fact, Fauci claimed Americans would see a return to "normality" by the fall if the general public participates in broad vaccination campaigns.
Speaking at a Harvard-hosted event, Fauci said:
Let's say we get 75 percent, 80 percent of the population vaccinated. If we do that, if we do it efficiently enough over the second quarter of 2021, by the time we get to the end of the summer, i.e., the third quarter, we may actually have enough herd immunity protecting our society that as we get to the end of 2021, we can approach very much some degree of normality that is close to where we were before.
In a separate interview with MSNBC, Fauci said, "By the time we get to the fall, we can start approaching some degree of relief where the level of infection will be so low in society we can start essentially approaching some form of normality."
But what is happening now?
Biden said during an interview with CBS News that aired prior to the Super Bowl that achieving herd immunity before the end of summer will be "very difficult."
Now, members of Biden's team believe the U.S. may not reach herd immunity until Thanksgiving — or even later — further extending life under COVID.
The Daily Beast reported:
Top members of Biden's COVID response team are warning internally that the U.S. may not reach herd immunity until Thanksgiving or even the start of winter — months later than originally calculated — according to two senior administration officials.
There are several reasons driving the bleak predictions.
First, vaccine distribution has been less than stellar, although data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 62 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed, and more than 43 million doses have been administered. The media blame former President Donald Trump for problems with vaccine distribution, but vaccine inoculations averaged nearly 1 million per day under Trump.
Meanwhile, experts fear that COVID-19 variants may render current COVID vaccines less-than-effective, meaning COVID may be a virus that is here to stay for the long haul, as the Washington Post noted.
At any rate, no one even knows how many Americans would need to be inoculated before the U.S. reaches herd immunity.
Fauci, for example, infamously admitted to deceiving Americans about the herd immunity threshold because he sought to encourage more Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The percentage, Fauci told the New York Times, is probably more than 70% and less than 90%.
"We really don't know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent," he said.