PCC Innovation CEO: COVID herd immunity is in relapse


Photo by CDC on Unsplash

On the 4th of July, Dallas reached 80% herd immunity to COVID-19, but by the first week in August, the county was in a relapse after the Delta variant reared its ugly head, according to Parkland Center for Clinical (PCC) Innovation health experts.

“It’s a relapse meaning that we have to go further and the threshold or that goal line is further out,” said PCC Innovation CEO Steve Miff.

PCC Innovation data found that in just six weeks, hospitalizations have spiked more than 700% and ICU stays increased more than 300%.

“Because the Delta variant is so much more contagious, it impacts the replicability of the virus and what that did is move the threshold to be much higher, from 88 to 90% to reach any type of herd immunity,” Miff said in an interview.

However, determining where the county currently is on the scale of herd immunity is less clear.

“When Delta took hold, herd immunity went below 80%,” Miff told the Dallas Express. “We’ve made progress with vaccinations but the exact number is actually a little bit difficult at this point in time to calculate with the accuracy that we need to feel comfortable putting exact numbers out there.”

Coming out of relapse will require more vaccinations, but the problem has been hesitancy.

About 51% or 1.34 million people have been vaccinated with at least one dose, according to PCC Innovation data, and 43% have completed both doses as of Aug. 6.

“It’s hard to say why people are hesitating,” Miff said. “There’s been so much misinformation and people don’t know what to believe so they are on the fence. There’s so much false information that’s circulating out there and it’s information from oftentimes sources they trust and that just gives people pause.”

One myth is that COVID vaccines are the “mark of the beast,” a reference from Revelations 13:17, a verse in the New Testament of the Bible that states:

“He causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so that no one may buy or sell, except he who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.”

On Aug. 6, Newsweek reported that a church sign in New Orleans promoting vaccination had been painted over with the Bible verse.

Miff advises the following strategies to help friends or family members who are on the fence about being immunized against the coronavirus.

Share your own experience with getting vaccinated.

“The most tangible thing is to talk about why you got vaccinated,” Miff said.

Engage them in a conversation and discuss why they are hesitating.

“For the younger population, they feel oftentimes that if they get COVID they might have mild symptoms. So, why bother with vaccines but what everybody needs to realize is that you get the vaccine not just for yourself but for those around you,” he said. “The hospitalizations for the younger population, including kids, [have] increased significantly.”

Point them to do their own research but with trusted sources.

“Encourage them to talk to their primary care physician,” Miff added. “Primary care physicians have been fantastic about answering questions for people. They understand what concerns people have because they’ve seen the ugly side of this. They see people die at the hospital who should not die. So, they appreciate both sides.”

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