Experts Seem Optimistic As L.A. Appears To Gain Herd Immunity

"Atenció casos de coronavirus SARS-CoV-2_26" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Hospital CLÍNIC

There is a new sense of optimism coming in Los Angeles county as the Coronavirus cases drop. 

According to the report by the L.A. Times last Saturday, there were multiple epidemiologists and scientists who, although still cautious, feel increasingly hopeful that the rest of 2021 will not replay the nightmare of last year. 

A vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Paul Offit, said, “I could be wrong, but I don’t think we’re going to see a big fourth surge. … I think we’ve seen the worst of it.”

Experts also stated that the coming of the spring would also allow more people to be outdoors and make it less likely for the Coronavirus to spread.

In addition to this, 12% of Americans have reportedly already received at least one dose of the Coronavirus vaccine. Dr. Paul Offit also estimated that approximately 35% of the country’s population has already been previously infected.

Meanwhile, UC San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford stated that one of the reasons why the Coronvirus cases are dropping rapidly in California is because of the “naturally acquired immunity, mostly in Southern California.” He reportedly calculated that 50% of the Los Angeles County residents have already been infected with Coronavirus at some point.

Rutherford said, “We’re really talking something starting to sound and look like herd immunity — although that true herd immunity is a ways off in the future.”

Herd immunity is achieved when a certain number of people acquired immunity to a virus. This makes the virus unable to find new hosts and spread. As a result, a community-wide level of protection is created. 

According to L.A. Times, scientists consider that the herd immunity threshold could be 90% with this COVID-19. The United States so far has not met this threshold yet. However, experts say that every step toward it slows down the transmission of the Coronavirus. 

The L.A. Times reports that the effects may be greatest in places that sustained the worst surges of COVID-19 cases. Including among them is Los Angeles, after the horrific autumn and winter season that killed over 12,000 people. This means that around 33% to 55% of the county residents have already had the virus, according to USC researchers.

According to Dr. Roger Lewis, director of COVID-19 hospital demand modeling for the L.A. County Department of Health Services, the new daily cases in Los Angeles have been dropping for five weeks, and the past COVID-19 infections have helped this happen, as it provided enough effect to dull the spread of the virus. 

Dr. Lewis said, “If you had the exact same behavior and type of virus circulating that we have right now, but we were at the beginning of the pandemic, and no one was immune yet … we’d be in the midst of an ongoing surge.”

He added that the fact that the cases are dropping right now is because almost a third of everybody in Los Angeles County is already immune to COVID.

The L.A. Times also reported that the new Coronavirus variant could impair the positive projections, “either by proving more resistant to existing vaccines or by finding a way to spread more easily. Shifts in behavior could also render this good news moot, as it holds only if people stick to the precautions they have been taking thus far, experts say.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Simon, L.A. County chief science officer, made the point that 60% of L.A. residents would remain susceptible to the virus despite the fact that more than a third of the population has already been infected. 

“I don’t want to provide a false sense of assurance here,” said Simon. “Unless they’ve had the vaccination, they continue to be susceptible. I think we need to continue to be vigilant.”