As Paul noted earlier, new coronavirus cases are plummeting in the U.S. This chart from the CDC shows the trend graphically:
Could cases spike again? The only real limit on the spread of covid is herd immunity (or, in the more politically correct formula, “population immunity”). When a majority (maybe a large majority) of the population has acquired immunity either by contracting the disease or by being vaccinated, the virus will die down and eventually die out. How close are we to that point?
In the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins argues that “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April.”
Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?
In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.
Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.
There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.
Dr. Makary argues that other data suggest that as many as two-thirds of Americans have already had the coronavirus, and “the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity.”
If the coronavirus is indeed disappearing by April, it will be interesting to see the reaction of the authorities. One would think that good news about the epidemic will be welcome, and things will rapidly return to normal. But that may not be what happens. The proto-fascists–you know the governors I mean–have gloried in their ability to use “emergency” powers to bully their fellow citizens. I suspect they will not give up those powers willingly. And the sheeplike behavior of other institutions, colleges and universities for instance, suggests that they too have enjoyed the opportunity to impose conformity. So we may have to fight for our freedom to live normal lives.