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Johns Hopkins professor: Covid herd immunity by April

The coronavirus will be “mostly gone” by April, according to a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Professor Martin Makary, who also teaches at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that a combination of people developing a natural immunity commonly known as “herd immunity” due to vaccinations and prior diagnosis will cause U.S. cases to drop precipitously this spring.

“At the current trajectory, I expect Covid-19 will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life,” Makary wrote in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal.

In recent weeks the United States has already seen a decline with numerous states and principalities easing restrictions.

In total, there have been over 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 or related causes and almost 29 million confirmed cases.

Makary said that natural immunity to the disease is far higher than current tests can gauge.

“Testing has been capturing only from 10 percent to 25 percent of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus,” he wrote.

“Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55 percent of Americans have natural immunity.”

He stated that antibody studies in 2020 into 2021 continue to underestimate natural immunity.

“Antibody testing doesn’t capture antigen-specific T-cells, which develop ‘memory’ once they are activated by the virus,” he said.

“Survivors of the 1918 Spanish flu were found in 2008 — 90 years later — to have memory cells still able to produce neutralizing antibodies.”

Makary also suggested that people who’ve already had Covid-19 should forgo vaccines until vulnerable seniors get their dose.

“Several studies demonstrate that natural immunity should protect those who had Covid-19 until more vaccines are available,” he wrote.

He states:

But the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.

My prediction that Covid-19 will be mostly gone by April is based on laboratory data, mathematical data, published literature and conversations with experts. But it’s also based on direct observation of how hard testing has been to get, especially for the poor. If you live in a wealthy community where worried people are vigilant about getting tested, you might think that most infections are captured by testing. But if you have seen the many barriers to testing for low-income Americans, you might think that very few infections have been captured at testing centers. Keep in mind that most infections are asymptomatic, which still triggers natural immunity.

“Half my friends in the medical community told me – good idea. The other half said there isn’t enough data on natural immunity, despite the fact that reinfections have occurred in less than 1 percent of people — and when they do occur, the cases are mild.”

–Wire services