The U.S. will “hopefully” have enough people vaccinated to reach herd immunity by “the end of summer or early fall,” COVID-19 task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters Wednesday.
Herd immunity refers to the point at which a high enough percentage of a population are immune to a disease to make it effectively non-transmissible. Fauci took questions from reporters at Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing, saying COVID-19 requires between 70-85 percent of the population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. (RELATED: ‘Open Season’ — Fauci Predicts All Americans, Not Just At-Risk People, Will Have Vaccine Access By Late April)
“We anticipate, and again it’s purely a speculation, that the herd immunity level will be about 70-85 percent,” Fauci said. “That’s the time that we believe, if you look at the planned rollout of the vaccines, that we would hopefully get to that point somewhere by the end of the summer and the early fall.”
“If a significant number of people do not get vaccinated then that would delay where we would get to that endpoint,” he added.
President Joe Biden’s administration has prioritized purchasing and distributing vaccines across the U.S., announcing there would be enough vaccines for every American by the end of May.
Biden is also expected to announce the purchase of an addition 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine later Wednesday. The J&J vaccine is unique from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in that it only requires a single dose. Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses taken several weeks apart.
“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” Biden said in prepared remarks announcing the Merck-Johnson & Johnson partnership March 10. “With this increased production of three safe and effective vaccines, we have an opportunity to address the urgent national need more quickly and getting our schools back open safely.”