Physician viewpoint: Herd immunity may be closer than you think 

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Much of the national dialogue on COVID-19 herd immunity emphasizes vaccine-based protection and suggests the country is far from achieving this target. However, herd immunity may be closer than some top health officials think when natural immunity is considered, a Johns Hopkins physician wrote in a March 24 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. 

Marty Makary, MD, is a surgical oncologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. He said undercounting or ignoring natural immunity from any herd immunity tally is "a scientific error of omission."

"Many physicians believe that vaccinated immunity will prove more durable than natural immunity. I agree, and I think everyone should get vaccinated," Dr. Makary said. "But after a year of millions of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., it’s clear that reinfections are rare. Natural immunity is real and shouldn't be ignored."

Dr. Makary said some health experts point to a lack of data as one of the reasons they don't account for natural immunity in their projections. He argued that the National Institutes of Health and CDC should spend more funding investigating this question. 

"If we say we’re going to follow the science, then we need to be willing to consider all the data," he concluded.

To view the full op-ed, click here.

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