‘Herd Immunity’ concept and how it applies to COVID-19 spread in Amarillo


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Dr. Todd Bell, Associate Professor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo, explains the concept of “herd immunity.”

“You have to have enough immune people in the community that your chance of having a non-immune person coming into contact with someone who’s actively transmitting the disease is low enough that it can’t continue to propagate,” said Dr. Bell.

That is a problem when it comes to a disease that no one’s seen before, like COVID-19.

Dr. Bell said it has an infectious rate between three and four, meaning that for every infected person on average, three or four people will end up getting infected.

“We mathematically can calculate what the herd immunity threshold would need to be and it’s probably somewhere around 65 and 70 % of the total population would have to be immune to the virus for it to die out in our community,” said Dr. Bell

Dr. Bell estimates that at the moment somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5% of the Amarillo population has been infected, meaning that around 98% are still at risk.

With no vaccine, Dr. Bell said the best way to build up that herd immunity threshold is social distancing.

“We have to continue to use the only tool in our toolbox, which is that social distancing,” said Dr. Bell.

Dr. Bell also said he doesn’t expect a COVID-19 vaccine to be available for at least another year.


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