The United States will achieve herd immunity in its fight against COVID-19 by April, much sooner than most health officials want to admit, Dr. Marty Makary, a Johns Hopkins University health policy expert and surgeon, argues in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal and in an interview Friday.
"I think most scientists are well-intentioned," Makary said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "I have had personal conversations who said don't put this out there in public. People might not get the vaccine or might stop taking precautions."
However, he added, "we have to be honest."
"There is a 77% reduction in daily cases over the last six weeks," said Makary. "You, as a scientist, have to ask why. We cannot explain that by vaccinated immunity. We can't explain it by a sudden change in behavior. It is natural immunity and it's now over 50% of the population."
In his article, Makary explained that antibody studies "almost certainly underestimate natural immunity" because they don't capture antigen-specific T-cells, "which develop 'memory' once they are activated by the virus."
He also wrote that he thinks the United States is racing toward an "extremely low level of infection," and at the "current trajectory, I expect COVID will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life."
However, Makary said on Fox News Friday he doesn't think COVID-19 will be all gone, but the nation will be at "extremely low levels."
"Look at the rate of decline," he said. "We've got about half the country, I estimate 55% based on the sampling capture rate of tested, confirmed cases, about 55% of the country has natural immunity."
And when vaccinations are added into the equation, with 15% of the country being immunized by the end of this week and up to 40% of the country by early April, "that will kick in," the doctor said.
Vaccines are still vital, said Makary, who pointed out in his article that he has argued for months that more American lives could be saved if everyone who has had a prior COVID-19 infection bypass vaccines until all vulnerable seniors get their first dose.
But while everyone is getting their vaccinations, "we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation," Makary said in the article.
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