Two brief updates

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent review of the process called “herd immunity.” this article includes a very good video clip that explains what herd immunity is and how it protects the population from spread of a pandemic like COVID-19. I highly recommend it.

The article also points out some of the issues with the development of herd immunity both independently, due to real infections, and with the aid of an effective vaccine. Achieving herd immunity through natural infection will take longer and result in more deaths than a vaccine but will essentially yield the same result. 

AN issue the article also raises is that herd immunity may be achievable with only 30 to 50% of the population having been infected or vaccinated (I have indicated this in prior blogposts). 

Achieving these levels in the entire population from natural infection remains a challenge and cannot be achieved without extensive protection of those at risk from dying or serious illness from COVID-19. If we do have an effective vaccine, however, it may be that 50% reduction in infection (50% protection) may be good enough if the entire population is vaccinated.

The private sector has stepped in again to solve COVID-19 problems. United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines are now providing COVID-19 testing to patients who would like to travel to Hawaii. This testing allows travelers to buy tickets and gain entry to Hawaii which would otherwise require quarantine. the testing reportedly will cost $250 but allows individuals to safely travel to Hawaii. A cheaper, $80 mail-in option is also available.

“The rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test – administered by GoHealth Urgent Care and their partner Dignity Health – provides results in approximately 15 minutes and will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO. The mail-in test option will be administered by Color and it is recommended that customers initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.”

This again shows that companies will become creative whether it’s in their best interest. There are other efforts to screen individuals before athletic events, concerts or other types of activities. This may be the most effective mechanism to get these tests done since they are using rapid tests that will not delay travelers. Most companies are tired of waiting for similar testing by the government.

Published by jbakerjrblog

Immunologist, former Army MD, former head of allergy and clinical immunology at University of Michigan, vaccine developer and opinionated guy.

2 thoughts on “Two brief updates

  1. United Airlines is being quite innovative—when will enough rapid tests be available so other businesses with less financial heft might follow this example?

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