Appearing on CNN’s “New Day” on Pearl Harbor Day, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it is possible that despite being vaccinated, asymptomatic persons might still infect others. In other words, he questions whether vaccines can induce herd immunity.
There are no absolutes in medicine.
Anything is “possible” in human illness, as medical science does not have perfect information. Therefore, we all live in a world of probabilities.
Fauci, however, does a disservice to Americans by sowing seeds of doubt when the overwhelming likelihood is that we will acquire herd immunity and stop the pandemic if enough people are vaccinated and the vaccines are as effective as advertised.
The following are three proofs that Dr. Fauci is spreading misinformation.
First, there is the history of epidemiology dating back to the 1930s, starting with measles.
When most viruses infect humans with intact immune systems, the person develops a response first with antibodies and then with T cells. The person becomes immune. If the virus comes back, that person can kill the virus before it spreads in him or to anyone else. The immune individual becomes a blocker of viral spread, one of a “herd” of immune people.
The only exceptions are viruses so lethal, like Ebola, that they kill before the body can mount the immune response.
Vaccination programs against polio, diphtheria and smallpox prove the point. They have virtually wiped out these medical scourges.
When administered in large enough numbers, vaccines do create herd immunity and are likely to do so against COVID.
In addition to the large body of past medical data, two recent studies disprove Dr. Fauci’s assertion that vaccines might not provide herd immunity.
A May report in Science confirmed that people infected with COVID develop both the immediate immune antibody response and then program T cells that both help kill the infection and provide long-term memory if the virus comes back.
Finally, a November study in Nature Communications found that “there was no evidence of transmission from asymptomatic positive persons to traced close contacts.”
That is the very definition of herd immunity: blocking of viral transmission to susceptible persons by immune individuals with antibodies.
Based on past and present medical data, Dr. Fauci is incorrect.
If enough Americans are vaccinated against COVID and the vaccines are at least 94 percent effective, we will develop herd immunity and defeat the virus.
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