AUSTIN, Texas — Coronavirus cases in Texas are slowing down, and that's raising some questions about herd immunity.
Herd immunity happens when enough people in a community become immune to a disease, making it harder for the disease to spread from person to person.
"When you look at the senior population, for example, more than 70% of seniors have received a vaccine shot. Fifty percent of those 50-65 have received a vaccine shot," Abbott said. "I don't know what herd immunity is, but when you add that number to the number of people who have acquired immunity, it looks like it could be very close to herd immunity."
Is Texas close to herd immunity from COVID-19?
First, there's some disagreement among experts about what percentage of the population needs to be immune from COVID-19 to reach herd immunity.
The WHO said 70% to 90% of the population would need to be immune.
The top infectious disease expert in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, has predicted 80% to 85%. Gov. Abbott's medical adviser said the goal for herd immunity is 70%.
Let's look at the numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
If you add the number of Texans who have recovered from COVID-19 – 2,680,443 – to the number of Texans who are fully vaccinated – 5,721,979 – you will find that about 29% of the Texas population is currently considered immune, as of mid-April.
One thing we don't know for sure is how many people recovered from COVID-19 but didn't report it or didn't know they had the virus. So that could boost the numbers a little bit, but we would still not be close enough to herd immunity.
It's also unclear how long immunity lasts – whether from a vaccine or from a previous infection.
So we can verify that no, Texas is not close to herd immunity.
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