On Monday, The New York Times reported that public health experts and scientists admit that it be unlikely for herd immunity to be attainable for the future due to dropping Covid-19 vaccination rates. According to the experts who spoke to the paper of record, the novel coronavirus will more likely become a constant yet manageable threat in the United States for at least several more years.
There are several factors including that new strains of Covid-19 are developing too quickly for herd immunity to be reasonably expected. This comes even as more than half of adults in the United States have been inoculated with at least one does of a vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 56 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and more than 40 percent are fully immunized.
However, daily vaccination rates are slipping. As such it is unlikely the herd immunity threshold is not attainable at least anytime soon.
“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,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top advisor on Covid-19, told The New York Times.
Social Media Reactions
It didn’t take long for the reactions to the news to trend on social media.
Daily Beast editor Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) didn’t mince words, “This suck” in her sharing of the news that herd immunity may not happen.
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“We will not reach Herd Immunity in America because a large enough segment of the country gets their medical advice from podcasters saying whatever first pops in their heads,” warned political satirist Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger)
“The people who preached herd immunity in 2020 are now the reason we won’t reach herd immunity in 2021,” wrote political commentator and Sirus/XM radio host John Fugelsang.
Activist Andrea Junker (@Strandjunker) was equally direct in her commentary, “America, where herd immunity is killed by herd stupidity.”
Multimedia journalist David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) offered a similar sentiment, “America won’t ever attain ‘Herd Immunity’ because we have too much ‘Herd Stupidity.'”
Vlogger Hank Green (@hankgree) offered a more optimist view on the situation, writing, “It’s weird watching people morn the prospect of herd immunity today because I did that like six months ago… Look y’all…vaccines kick ass, and no they aren’t going to end COVID. They’re just going to keep people from getting sick and dying. Still a pretty big win.”
Actor LeVar Burton (@levarburton) also poked some fun in the situation, “The words we use make a significant difference in how our communications are received. We are not cows, so I prefer ‘community immunity’ over ‘herd immunity!'”
“A coworker once told me that she doesn’t want to be cremated because she’s afraid ‘it might hurt’ so I’m not shocked that we won’t be reaching herd immunity,” explained comedian Blake Hammond (@BigRadMachine).
Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (@GovJVenture) wrote, “As I’ve stated – if WWII happened today, if we behaved like we are right now, Hitler would have won. We won’t reach herd immunity if the majority of our population isn’t vaccinated. Want to return to normal? Wear your mask, get your vaccine, social distance & stay vigilant.”
Some took to social media to warn that it could be misleading to suggest that herd immunity might not be achievable.
“The headline is alarming, but I think it’s important to not overemphasize a herd immunity number. All it really comes down to is: the more people we can get vaccinated, the more lives we will save. Keep having conversations with those in your community!,” explained Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran), who holds a PhD in molecular biology.
There was also pushback from some who pushed back at the findings of the story, and even at the concept of herd immunity.
Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA), national spokesperson for the Republican National Convention, questioned the findings of the report, “This is a man who has admitted to lying to influence the unwashed masses before. Now he’s saying you can never reach herd immunity. It’s obvious this is not actually about herd immunity. It’s about getting the herd to take Big Pharma’s experimental gene therapies”
Fox News’ senior political analyst Brit Hume (@brithume) also took issue with the report, and wrote, “This ridiculous article is premised on the idea that ‘herd immunity’ means being rid of the Covid virus. But that’s not what it means, which is that a large enough segment of a population has had it or been vaccinated to significantly reduce the risk.”
Dr. Eleanor Murray (@EpiEllie), suggested, “Herd immunity has always been a red herring. We never needed to reach herd immunity to defeat covid if we had actually tried to eradicate it. COVID as a ‘manageable threat’ long-term is a huge failure, IMO.”
While it remains unlikely that Covid-19 is going to go away, it is unfortunately likely that it will be an issue that finds little common ground on social media anytime soon either.