Scientists have been moving closer to developing an effective vaccine for COVID-19. But even if it becomes available, the U.S. is “unlikely” to achieve herd immunity if the country fails to do one thing, according to the White House’s top infectious disease expert.
That important step is to encourage the majority of citizens to get vaccinated. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said just a portion of the population that refuses it could jeopardize the country’s efforts to fight COVID-19.
“That’s one of the reasons why we have to make sure we engage the community as we’re doing now, to get community people to help us, for people to understand that we are doing everything we can to show that it’s safe and that it’s effective and that it’s for the good of them as individuals and in society to take the vaccine,” he said during the Aspen Ideas Festival.
The country would need a coronavirus vaccine that is at least 70 percent to 75 percent effective. Fauci said that would be enough to achieve herd immunity level.
However, even if it effectively protects an individual from COVID-19, the disease may continue to spread if 25 percent of the population refuses to get vaccinated. If that happens, herd immunity will not occur, Fauci told CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
He said there is an “alarmingly large percentage of people” that currently have either an anti-science, anti-authority or anti-vaccine feeling in the U.S. The infectious disease expert then called on other government officials to increase efforts to encourage Americans to get a coronavirus vaccine in the future.
Developing COVID-19 Vaccine
Over the past months, dozens of studies have been launched to find a way to eliminate or at least control the novel coronavirus. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in May a new partnership with drug maker AstraZeneca to obtain 300 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, according to CBS News.
There are also four or five separate trials underway for other vaccine candidates, Fauci said early in June. He expects that Americans would see millions of doses of vaccine available by the end of 2020.