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FACT FINDERS: Reaching herd immunity may be harder now

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:37 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 9:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - We may need even more people to get vaccinated than previously thought, in order to reach herd immunity.

That’s because of the delta variant.

You may have heard previous reports suggest around 70% of the population would need to be immune to COVID-19 to reach herd immunity. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was just one source reporting that in April.

Deepta Bhattacharya with the University of Arizona believes that number just increased based on the highly contagious delta variant. He said as a basic rule, the more transmissible the virus is, the higher level of immunity you need in order to shut it down.

”For instance, if you have a virus that doesn’t spread very well, probably 60% would be enough. But, if you have a virus that, now with this delta variant, is spreading faster than really what you’re looking at is you probably need to get up to above like 80% and we’re a pretty long way away from that,” he said.

Bhattacharya said one big reason why we still have a ways to go is because kids younger than 12 are not yet eligible to get vaccinated. He said vaccine hesitancy in adults is also another big contributing factor.

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