Has Texas achieved herd immunity? “There is no way on God’s green earth,” an expert says.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas might have been overly optimistic on Sunday when he mentioned on Fox News that his state could possibly be “very close” to herd immunity — the purpose the place a lot of the inhabitants is resistant to Covid-19, both from being vaccinated or beforehand contaminated, that the virus can no longer unfold.

“When you look at the senior population, for example, more than 70 percent of our seniors have received a vaccine shot, more than 50 percent of those who are 50 to 65 have received a vaccine shot,” Mr. Abbott, a Republican, informed Chris Wallace. Mr. Wallace had requested why statewide infection, hospitalization and death rates had been extra below management than in different states, despite Texas reopening many activities and eliminating mask mandates.

The governor added, “I don’t know what herd immunity is, but when you add that to the people who have immunity, it looks like it could be very close to herd immunity.”

Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, mentioned, “There is no way on God’s green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity.”

He added: “Look no further than Michigan and Minnesota, which have much higher rates of vaccination than Texas. And we’re already seeing widespread transmission.”

About 19 p.c of individuals in Texas are totally vaccinated, whereas Michigan has 22 p.c and Minnesota has 24 p.c.

Estimates of what it might take to achieve herd immunity have edged up for the reason that pandemic started, starting from requiring immunity in 60 p.c to greater than 90 p.c of the inhabitants to halt transmission.

No one is certain what the extent ought to be, Dr. Osterholm mentioned. “Anybody who will tell you exactly what the level of herd immunity is, is also likely to want to sell you a bridge.”

He predicted that inside a number of weeks or a month, Texas and different components of the southern and western United States would see instances rising the way they’re now within the Upper Midwest and Northeast.

A significant component within the relentless unfold of the coronavirus is the rising proportion of instances attributable to the virus variant first identified in Britain and known as B.1.1.7, which is extra contagious than the type of the virus that first emerged.

That variant “surely resets the meter” and makes herd immunity tougher to attain, Dr. Osterholm mentioned. Additional variants may additional complicate the forecast.

“These variants are game changers,” he mentioned. “They really are. It’s really remarkable.”

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