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REPORT: Experts believe reaching COVID-19 herd immunity is unlikely in the United States

Public health experts and scientists say they do not believe herd immunity is attainable for the near future due to dropping COVID-19 vaccination rates, The New York Times reports.

According to the experts who spoke with the Times, the coronavirus will more likely become a constant but manageable threat in the U.S. for several more years. New COVID-19 strains are also reportedly developing too quickly for herd immunity to be reasonably expected. “The virus is unlikely to go away,” Emory University evolutionary biologist Rustom Antia told the newspaper. “But we want to do all we can to check that it’s likely to become a mild infection.”

Experts are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers. How much smaller is uncertain and experts say it depends on how much of the nation, and the world, becomes vaccinated and how the coronavirus evolves.

It is already clear, however, that the virus is changing too quickly, new variants are spreading too easily and vaccination is proceeding too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon. Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch told the Hill newspaper that vaccination is still the key to combatting the pandemic. A high level of immunity “is not like winning a race,” Lipsitch said. “You have to then feed it. You have to keep vaccinating to stay above that threshold.”

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ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

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