Abbott, a Republican, is basing his reasoning on what he termed ‘simple math’ and claims that it explains the recent decline of coronavirus cases in the Lone Star state.
Abbott has based his calculations by taking the number of people who have been vaccinated and combining it with the number who have been infected.
Gov. of Texas, Greg Abbott, believes the state is ‘very close’ to herd immunity due to a fall in the numbers of deaths, infections and a rise in the numbers of those being vaccinated
‘I don’t know what herd immunity is, but when you add that to the people who have acquired immunity, it looks like it could be very close to herd immunity,’ he said.
Herd immunity is the point at which enough of the population is immune so that the virus can no longer easily spread.
The state is currently seeing about 3,452 new cases of the virus a day with a similar number currently hospitalized.
There are around 72 daily deaths each day from the disease in the state, but just 19 percent of Texas’ 29 million population have been vaccinated so far, well below the perceived 70-90 percent requirement that is needed for herd immunity.
Health officials in the state have confirmed more than 2.4 million infections and counted an additional 400,000 ‘probable’ virus cases of which around 50,000 people died.
‘We remain very vigilant and guarded and proactive in our response, but there is simple math behind the reason why we continue to have success. The equation means, very simply, it’s a whole lot more difficult for covid-19 to be spreading to other people in the state of Texas.’
Fans participate in doing the wave as they watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Texas Rangers in a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, as life returns to a ‘new normal’
The number of cases in Texas has been slowly increasing recently but has been on a downward trend
Deaths have continued to fall consistently over the last months with around 72 deaths a day
Just over 19 percent of Texas’ population has been vaccinated but the figure is well below that thought to be required for herd immunity
Medical experts say that although immunity from vaccinations prior infections could have contributed to the decline in cases following the winter surge, the number’s do not add up to herd immunity.
The official number of people who have survived infection in Texas is about 2.77 million. This figure coupled with the number of those vaccinated equals about 5.5 million, giving around 8.27 million people some form of immunity – about 29 percent of the state’s population, according to data collected by the Washington Post.
More than 70 percent of Texas’ seniors received at least one dose of a vaccine with more than 50 percent of those between 50 to 65 also having received one.
The problem with such calculations is that scientists do not know the exact point at which herd immunity will start but believe it to be anywhere from 70 to 90 percent.
In some parts of Texas, precautions are still being taken. Here congregants are pictured within socially distanced ‘pods’ at an outdoor church service in Dallas, Texas
Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-diseases doctor, has the figure to be somewhere between 80 and 85 percent.
‘It depends on the efficacy and duration of immunity acquired through infection or vaccination, whether we have pockets of low immunity in our communities and whether there are emerging variants that can evade immunity,’ said Lauren Ancel Meyers, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
She believes that ‘a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding’ surrounds herd immunity with several factors that could play a role in influencing it.
Texas’ encouraging data has also helped to spur governor’s theory.
In the month since Abbott lifted the state’s mask mandate, the daily average of newly reported cases has decreased from 4,700 to about 3,500.
But experts are calling for more a more measured approach given that variants of the virus have broken out in Michigan and Minnesota resulting in a surge in cases.
‘There is no way on God’s green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity,’ said Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, to the New York Times.
‘Look no further than Michigan and Minnesota, which have much higher rates of vaccination than Texas. And we’re already seeing widespread transmission. These variants are game changers. They really are. It’s really remarkable.’