We have been fighting COVID-19 in the US for nine months. The severity varies in a given state or city from disaster to barely noticed. Places that suffered long and economically damaging lock downs opened up only to be hit again.
When will this end?
The answer is clear. When a contagious virus infects a human population, cases will accumulate until 70% or 80% of the population is immune--called "herd immunity." The US population is about 340 million. So, infections will continue until 80% or 270 million are immune.
There are so far about 10 million known cases. That means at this rate infections will continue for 25 times longer than it has so far. That would pretty much destroy our economy and way of life.
Masks and social distancing are critical to reduce the rate of infections so that the health care system is not overwhelmed. Masks and social distancing do NOT prevent the eventual number of infections required for herd immunity. So masks and social distancing are key temporizing measures but not a solution.
What is the solution? Large scale vaccination--starting with high-risk patients. Fortunately Operation Warp Speed has produced--so far--three highly effective and safe vaccines in less than a year. That is an astounding achievement never accomplished before.
Getting 200 million doses of vaccine to our population and administering it will be a challenge, but signs so far are very encouraging. The biggest obstacle will be to convince people the vaccine is essential for the health of us all and should be taken ASAP.
DR. DANIEL T. PETERSON