By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — How much farther to herd immunity? In Reno County, according to the county's dashboard, we're not there yet.
A March 2021 article from Nature states that, most estimates placed the threshold for herd immunity, which is where the virus doesn't have enough hosts to circulate, at 60 to 70% of the population gaining immunity, either through vaccinations or past exposure to the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci has estimated that number between 70% and 85%.
Statistics from the Reno County dashboard as of Thursday put 26,116 residents as having had at least one dose of vaccine. The dashboard says that is 41.82% of residents, so let's assume they are working from a number of 62,450.
If you assume that all those with a documented case of COVID-19 that were counted on the dashboard have immunity that currently holds, there have been 7,878 recoveries and there are 78 cases. That is 7,956.
26,116 plus 7,956 is 34,072. 34,072 is 54.55% of 62,450. If all of those numbers hold and all of the immunity holds and 60% is the threshold, then Reno County would still need approximately 1,145 more people to either be infected or immunized just to reach 60%.
It is also not definitive yet that the use of vaccine blocks transmission. If a new variant comes in that can be transmissible by the immunized, even if it doesn't make them sick, that would allow the virus to continue to circulate and would reduce that safe number back down by some unknown amount.
We also don't know yet how long immunity from infection lasts, so we don't know if any of those numbers that have been infected could eventually be reinfected, especially if the variant circulating is different than the one they were originally infected with, though as of a July 27 email from county data analyst DJ Gering, there have only been five confirmed reinfections in Reno County, so that hasn't been a statistical concern to date.
Vaccine manufacturers noted that the goal of vaccination was not to prevent illness, but rather, hospitalization and death. The death rate in Reno County to this point is 144 deaths out of 8100 cases, or 1.78%.