Since the first Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination on the 14th, more than 17.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered. According to the latest CDC data, an average of about 462,000 vaccines were administered per day in December.
While overall immunization rates are well below previous plans, they have steadily increased over the past five weeks. The number of doses administered in the last seven days was more than ten times the number of doses administered in the first seven days of vaccine administration in the United States. And with additional vaccines in the pipeline, as well as commitments from the new Biden administration and current manufacturers, things could get even better.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has even stated that administration of the vaccine will likely meet – and perhaps exceed – President Biden’s plan.
I’m pretty sure that will not only be the case, but maybe even better, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Thursday on Good Morning America.
Still, the United States is several months away from vaccinating enough people to end the pandemic.
The two vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, currently approved for use in emergency situations in the U.S., require two doses for full vaccination. Another vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose.
If Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines remain the only ones on the market, a total of about 500 million doses – two for each of the 250 million adults living in the United States – would need to be administered before all U.S. adults are fully vaccinated. None of the existing coronavirus vaccines are currently approved for people under the age of 16.
About 914,000 doses were taken daily over the past seven days. If vaccination continues at the same pace, every adult in the United States could be fully vaccinated by the summer of 2022, according to a CNN analysis.
If, as Biden promised, up to a million vaccinations a day are administered, this could increase by spring 2022.
To fully vaccinate the entire U.S. adult population, the rate would need to increase to about 1.3 million doses administered per day by the end of the year.
Back to normal
While it is ideal to vaccinate the entire population, it is probably not necessary to initiate a return to normal.
Herd immunity, which consists of immunizing a sufficiently large proportion of the population against an infectious disease that is unlikely to be transmitted from one person to another, should occur earlier.
Estimates of the proportion of the population that must be protected to reach this threshold vary as more is learned about coronaviruses. Most projections are between 60 and 70 percent, including those cited by the World Health Organization.
But last week Mr. Fauci suggested that the range could be 70 to 85%.
If we get that, we’ll develop an immunity shield, he told CNBC. This would also protect vulnerable sites that have not yet been vaccinated or where the vaccine has not been effective.
Assuming that three-quarters of American adults need to be fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the U.S. could reach this threshold by February 2022 if vaccination continues at the same rate it has in the last seven days – about 914,000 doses per day, according to a CNN analysis.
Vaccinating up to 1 million shots per day could achieve herd immunity in the United States by the end of 2021.
At an event Tuesday hosted by Harvard Business Review, Fauci said the effects of herd immunity could begin in the fall.
If we do it effectively – starting in April, May, June, July, August – we should have a level of protection in early fall that I think can bring us back to some kind of normality, he said.
Despite recent information that the U.S. government has no vaccine stockpile for the second dose described above, manufacturers have committed to providing it.
We have all the second cans from previous US shipments in stock. We are working around the clock to produce millions every day, Pfizer said in a statement to CNN.
Pfizer has pledged to deliver 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July, and Moderna said it would deliver a total of 200 million doses by June, the end of the second quarter.
The schedule for herd immunity and general immunization coverage may also accelerate as more single-dose vaccines are licensed in the United States.
But even if a certain level of herd immunity is achieved in the United States, the situation may be different in other parts of the world.
Last week, Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization, warned that no global herd immunity is expected this year.
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