The Accelerating Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines Makes Domestic ‘Immunity Passports’ Largely Irrelevant
Nearly 181 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed in the United States, and more than 143 million of those have been administered. More than 93 million U.S. residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 51 million people have been fully vaccinated—including 5 million inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine. This means that slightly more than 28 percent of the American population has gotten at least one dose, and 15.5 percent are fully vaccinated.
“When Israel hit about 25 percent of their population vaccinated, that’s when they started to see the [case] declines that were ascribed to the vaccination. We’re right about at that tipping point,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
The latest real-world data show that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 80 percent effective at preventing both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 infections after one dose; after two doses, the effectiveness rises to 90 percent. Since both vaccines prevent asymptomatic disease, vaccinated people are unlikely to harbor undetected infections that could transmit the virus to unvaccinated people.
In clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease and the AstraZeneca vaccine 76 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness. All four vaccines are basically 100 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
Most epidemiologists believe that somewhere between 70 to 85 percent of the population will need to be protected through infection or vaccination to achieve herd immunity against the virus. With herd immunity, the epidemic abates because people who remain susceptible to infection are increasingly surrounded by immune individuals who serve as a barrier, preventing the microbes from reaching them.