When the COVID-19 pandemic first swept the U.S. more than a year ago, Americans learned a brand-new term: Herd immunity.
The idea is simple: If enough people get a virus or a vaccine — thus building antibodies — the spread of the virus drops off precipitously.
While experts didn’t know exactly how many Americans would need antibodies to reach herd immunity, the number ranged from more than 50% to upwards of 70%. Early on in the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. immunologist, put the number at 60% to 70%, but in April he started upping that number, saying in an interview with CNBC News that it would be “75, 80, 85 percent.”
But now, experts are saying we may never reach herd immunity. “Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers,” The New York Times reported on Monday.