Epidemiologist Says Oklahoma's Herd Immunity Unlikely To Last Longer Than A Year

Wednesday, September 22nd 2021, 6:41 pm
By: Erica Rankin


Epidemiologist Aaron Wendelboe said community immunity, or herd immunity, in the state is estimated to be around 78%. That is up from where we were mid-July at 61%, but he does expect that to start to wane in the coming months.

"It doesn't look like population immunity will last longer than a year," said Wendelboe.

Our nearly 80% of herd immunity can be chalked up to the rapid spread of the delta variant, people who have been vaccinated and never got COVID, plus the nearly 600,000 cases we've had in total in Oklahoma.

"Let's say that for every one person that had a test done that was positive there were three people infected so that would be 2.4 million people," said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Health's Chief Covid Officer.

Experts have predicted that once that immunity starts to decrease, we could have another spike in cases in the late winter or early spring.

"For the longest time people said let's get to herd immunity," said Wendelboe. "We're good and our lives go back to normal. So, I didn't want to convey a message that we get to this herd immunity, and it stays there forever."

Doctors said that timeline though is contingent on one thing, a new variant.

"The one huge unknown is will we see a different variant that pops up that becomes highly contagious in the winter months?" said Bratzler.

Bratzler said he hopes as delta begins to burn out, our hospitalizations will continue to stay on a steady decline.

He said the grim milestone we are nearing, 10,000 deaths in the state, breaks down to one in every 400 Oklahomans have died of COVID-19. That is higher than the national average of one in every 500 Americans.