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Are we close to herd immunity?

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:11 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala, (WBRC) - First it was the original COVID virus, then came the Delta variant and now Omicron. So are we any closer to herd immunity? It’s a question so many of us have been asking for a very long time now, but one health expert has an answer that may surprise you.

Dr. Don Williamson, who is the head of the Alabama Hospital Association, has never been known to beat around the bush, and the question of whether we’re even close to herd immunity was no exception.

“The truth is, I don’t know,” said Dr. Williamson.

The reason?

“As the infectivity of the virus increases, the percentage of the population has to be immune in order to prevent transmission,” said Dr. Williamson.

Medical researchers are now diving back into history to search for clues.

“Back in the mid 80s, we gave people one dose of a measles shot and we thought that was sufficient because you had 95% of the population vaccinated against the measles, and then we began to see outbreaks of measles in people who had been previously vaccinated,” Dr. Williamson said.

Still, Dr. Williamson offers hope. Omicron is with us because the virus keeps mutating. As a general rule, the more it replicates, the weaker it becomes. That is what science indicates is suppose to happen.

“If it kills its host, it’s not very effective in replicating. That’s the theory. Does that mean that’s what’s going to happen? Absolutely not,” said Dr. Williamson.

Could we see another variant? No one knows for sure. But health experts are still encouraging people to get the vaccine, wash your hands, and wear a mask.

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