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The Elusive Quest For Herd Immunity


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

During the early stages of the pandemic, many experts considered the threshold for "herd immunity" to be between 60-70% of the population — the point when such a large portion of a community is immune to a disease that it makes spread unlikely.

As of the first week in May, about 57% of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

But now, because of more contagious variants, many experts consider the threshold for "herd immunity" to be at least 80%.

While reaching a critical mass of vaccinated people has been considered by many to signal the end of the pandemic, achieving that number appears to be less and less likely.

Some hurdles are misinformation, while others are simply a matter of access. Still, the United States has a high vaccination rate compared to the rest of the world, while some other countries are experiencing a new wave of infections.

We sit down with experts to understand the elusive goal of herd immunity and all the possible outcomes.


Dan Diamond, health politics and policy reporter for The Washington Post

Krishna Udayakumar, associate professor of global health and medicine, director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center

Dr. David Brett-Major, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.