According to a national study released last Friday in the Lancet, less than 1 out of 10 Americans presented signs of a prior coronavirus infection as of late July, meaning that the majority of the US population remains susceptible to the virus.
The researchers studied the prevalence of antibodies for coronavirus, which the immune system typically makes to counteract infection. Findings show that much of the U.S. has yet to get infection despite widespread coronavirus in spring and summer. The U.S. is far off from herd immunity that is reached when enough people have developed protection from the virus.
“If we measure herd immunity by antibodies, then this study does not support that there is herd immunity.”Shuchi Anand, Stanford University nephrologist and co-author of the study
Anand and co-author Maria Montez-Rath, a Stanford biostatistician, mentioned in the study to what degree the virus has infected Black and Hispanic people in the U.S. The CDC has confirmed the uneven infection in racial and ethnic minorities.
The study showed that people were more than two times as likely to have developed antibodies in communities where the majority is Hispanic. The rate was even four-fold in communities where the majority is black, Montez-Rath indicated.
The researchers were a team from Stanford University and Ascend Clinical laboratory that processes lab tests for dialysis patients. They used the blood plasma samples from a group of about 28,500 patients randomly selected across 1,300 centers in 46 states.
Results showed that around 8% of patients had coronavirus antibodies. Anand said that when modified for the general population, the study shows around 9% of the public has antibodies. The study noted the prevalence of antibodies that differ across regions. Additionally, 3.5% of patients of the West and more than 27% of patients of Northeast are presenting signs of prior infection.
Some scientists said people might have T-cell protection because of exposure to other coronaviruses like the common cold. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, denied the theories.
“You cannot assume that we are even anywhere near herd immunity right now in the United States. We have a long way to go to get to herd immunity.”Dr. Anthony Fauci