Coronavirus (COVID-19) Recovery Depends on Herd Immunity, Doctor Says

As the state prepares to reopen, doctors from OU Medical Center report we are still a long way from normal. First we as a country, and ever-traveling world, need to develop herd immunity, health officials say.

Monday, April 27th 2020, 9:33 pm



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As the state prepares to reopen, doctors from OU Medical Center report we are still a long way from normal.

First we as a country, and ever-traveling world, need to develop herd immunity.

The Center of Disease Control has detailed the old-science.

It is defined by the CDC as, “A situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and those with chronic illnesses) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community.”

“Herd immunity in many, many infectious diseases is important because the larger proportion of the population that is immune to the disease, makes it more difficult for that disease to spread,” said Dr. Dale W. Bratzler, Enterprise Chief Quality Officer, OU Medicine

Braztler believes our best hope is the vaccine, where exposure is controlled, rather than natural exposure from person to person. In any form—we are still a long ways off.

“If you assume the population is about 4 million people, and let’s assume 60% of the population had enough immunity that would represent herd immunity to slow down the transmission. That would mean 2.4 million people in Oklahoma had already been infected, or exposed to the virus, and were immune,” said Bratzler. “We would lose around 7,000-7,200 to COVD-19 to get to herd immunity, 60% of the population were exposed.

Experts estimate every person who is infected with COVID-19 will infect 2 to 3 others.

To know how many people have been exposed, or already recovered, we have to have reliable testing.

But in the medical field, efficacy is still a point of contention.

Paperwork handed out by a metro health county department, dated March 13, states the current COVID tests are not FDA approved.

Doctors said that’s not surprising because they haven’t gone through clinical trials.

Every effort was made to flatten the curve, and distribute the tests rapidly.

In a statement to News 9 OSU lab officials said:

The approved system has built in controls with each test run so that we can verify the validity of the results.

The tests have an "EUA" or Emergency Use Authorization that comes from the FDA. The tests just haven't been granted FDA "approval" through the regular process due to the COVID-19 crisis. They have been validated and the FDA reviewed and accepted the validation data prior to issuing the EUA.

“Most of the test that are on the commercial market got emergency authorization. So, they have not been validated by the FDA. As that has gone on, we have found that more and more over time, as they start to do that validation testing, aren’t really doing as well as we hoped they would do,” said Bratzler. “That’s been particularly true with some of the antibody tests, where the validation studies have shown accuracy is only in the 20 to 30% range in some of those in the market.”

He added testing is still helpful in the practice of isolating infected people.

Though, the next step will be honing contact tracing to study the transmission of the virus.

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