Is herd immunity possible 19 months after the beginning of the COVID pandemic?

A woman wears a medical mask while traveling in the Caracas Metro on the 1st day of closure of the capital city during the Quarantine in the capital city due to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus.
A woman wears a medical mask while traveling in the Caracas Metro on the 1st day of closure of the capital city during the Quarantine in the capital city due to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

COVID-19 herd immunity is still possible, but to achieve it we must be proactive with our health experts say, warning of a race between Americans and the virus.

When the delta mutation hit the nation in July, questions were raised about the possibility of herd immunity as fully vaccinated Americans began to contract COVID-19. But, Dr. Thomas Denny, professor of medicine and chief operating officer at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University, still believes that level of protection may be a reality.

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"I think little by little we're inching our way forward," he said on Wednesday to KCBS Radio's "Ask an Expert." "The key here is to get as many people across the country in all age groups and demographics fully vaccinated and then we’ll start to realize the benefits of so-called herd immunity."

However, Denny stressed that the nation is at the cusp of two realities, one which ends in herd immunity and another which ends in the triumph of the virus.

"What's critical is the race we are in," he explained. "The longer we have virus churning away in our society in unvaccinated people, that keeps the ability for the virus to develop into something that potentially escapes the vaccines that we have. Fortunately we haven't seen that yet, but you have to remember from a basic virology standpoint, the virus wants to always become more fit and more able to infect us."

To avoid further mutations, it is up to the public to use all the tools available in our tool box including vaccination, social distancing and masking.

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