US Could Reach Herd Immunity by May 2021 if 70% of Americans Get the Vaccine, Top Scientist Says

In this screengrab from video, Operation Warp Speed Chief Adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui join's CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020.

By Published on November 23, 2020

America could reach herd immunity by May of next year if a majority of citizens are vaccinated, a prominent health expert told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for President Donald Trump’s immunization program Operation Warp Speed, told Tapper on his show “State of the Union” that if 70% of the populace receives a coronavirus vaccine, the U.S. could reach herd immunity by May 2021. The achievement of mass immunity is key for the return to “normal life” for Americans, according to Slaoui.

“So normally with the level of efficacy that we have — 95% — 70% or so of the population being immunized would allow for true herd immunity to take place,” the chief scientist told Tapper. “That is likely to happen somewhere in the month of May or something like that based on our plans.”

Major pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have both introduced potential COVID-19 shots with an effectiveness greater than 90% in initial testing, according to the Washington Post. Pfizer applied for emergency approval for its vaccine, which could make the injection ready for use in the coming weeks, the New York Times reported.

Slaoui projected a similar timeline in his CNN appearance.

“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours of approval,” he said. “So I would expect maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States.”

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A total of 58% of Americans said they would take a COVID-19 vaccination, according to Tuesday Gallup poll. Fifty-three percent of Democrats and 49% of Republicans indicated they would take an immunization if it was available, the poll revealed.

Slaoui said he was committed to changing the public’s perception of the vaccination.

“I really hope and look forward to seeing the level of negative perception people have about the vaccine decrease and positive perception increase,” he said. “Most people need to be immunized before we can return to a normal life.”

 

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