Covid-19 Herd Immunity Unlikely If Many Americans Refuse Vaccine: Fauci

Vaccine education will be a challenge for US authorities as the anti-vaccine movement holds strong.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Incomplete protection from a Covid-19 vaccine may be acceptable, but it’s unlikely for the United States to achieve sufficient immunity levels if many refuse the jab, an expert said.

Director of US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr Anthony Stephen Fauci, told CNN that he would “settle” for a Covid-19 that is about 70 to 75 per cent effective even though this is incomplete protection, but the fact that many Americans have said that they would not get a coronavirus vaccine adds to the problem, which makes it “unlikely” that the US will achieve herd immunity.

Three Covid-19 vaccines are expected to begin their large-scale clinical trials in the next three months with US government support, as reported by CNN.

“The best we’ve ever done is measles, which is 97 to 98 per cent effective. That would be wonderful if we get there. I don’t think we will. I would settle for (a) 70, 75 per cent effective vaccine,” Dr Fauci reportedly said.

A poll conducted by CNN last month revealed that one-third of Americans would not attempt to get immunised against Covid-19, even if the vaccine is widely available and affordable.

When asked about whether a vaccine with 70 to 75 per cent efficacy coupled with two-thirds of the American population vaccinated would provide the necessary herd immunity to the coronavirus, Dr Fauci told CNN: “No. Unlikely”.

Herd immunity is achieved when a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease, either through vaccination or prior infection to make its spread from person to person unlikely, so that even individuals who are unvaccinated due to various reasons would be offered protection from the community.

Dr Fauci also noted that Covid-19 vaccine education would be a challenge in the country as “there is a general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country—an alarming large percentage of people, relatively speaking.”

He further added that US authorities “have a lot of work to do” to educate people on the truth of vaccines given the uprising of the anti-vaccine movement in the country.

The US government has a vaccine education programme to counteract anti-vaccine messages, as pointed out by Dr Fauci.

“We have a program right now that’s going to be extensive in reaching out to the community,” he said. “They may not like a government person in a suit like me telling them, even though I will tell them. They really need to see people that they can relate to in the community — sports figures, community heroes, people that they look up to.”

However, there is no indication that such a programme is in place, as pointed out by CNN.

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