Children will ‘probably’ have to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the United States to reach herd immunity against the CCP virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday at a Senate hearing on the response to the pandemic.
“I have been saying lately, calculation, and it’s purely an estimate of 70 to 85 percent of the population. If it is that, we would probably have to get more children and I believe as we get high school students vaccinated in the fall, we’ll be able to reach that,” said Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci is changing his perspective on the target for herd immunity again. Just last week at a White House COVID-19 briefing, he said that the United States was projected to reach herd immunity by the end of summer or early fall without mentioning children needing to be vaccinated.
Moderna announced on March 16 that the first dose of its COVID vaccine has been given to children ages six months to 11 years in a combination phase 2 and 3 trial. The pharmaceutical company is expecting to enroll over 6,000 children in the United States and Canada to assess the safety and effectiveness of its mRNA-1273 vaccine currently given to adults around the world.
Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are testing their vaccines in adolescent children aged 12 to 17, and are expected to release preliminary data in the summer. Moderna will not complete its trial until June 2022, and Pfizer in January 2023.
Vaccines may be available for high school students as early as the fall, and by 2022 for younger children.
“For high school students, it looks like they will be available to get vaccinated in the beginning of the fall, very likely for the fall term,” Fauci said at a White House COVID-19 briefing Wednesday. “With regard to children, we are doing an age de-escalation study in elementary school children, from 12 to 9, 9 to 6, 6 to 2, and 6 months to 2 years. We anticipate we’ll have enough data to be able to vaccinate these younger children by the first quarter of 2022.”
More than 75 million people have received one dose of the three available COVID-19 vaccines and 40 million were fully vaccinated as of March 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
WHO Redefines Herd Immunity
Herd immunity occurs when a large enough portion of the population acquires immunity from an infectious disease—either naturally from prior infection or temporarily through vaccination—that it no longer spreads widely.
“‘Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.”
Then on Dec. 31, the WHO added the naturally acquired immunity from a previous infection back into its definition of herd immunity, and stressed that the health organization “supports achieving ‘herd immunity’ through vaccination.”
“Herd immunity against COVID-19 should be achieved by protecting people through vaccination, not by exposing them to the pathogen that causes the disease,” the WHO wrote.
“Vaccines train our immune systems to create proteins that fight disease, known as ‘antibodies’, just as would happen when we are exposed to a disease but—crucially—vaccines work without making us sick,” it added.
The WHO further states that people who are vaccinated “are protected from getting the disease in question and passing on the pathogen, breaking any chains of transmission.”
This statement conflicts with information from the CDC about COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC says that people can still get COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, and transmit it to others after vaccination. In addition, it’s not known how long the vaccines will provide protection.
Experts still do not know what percentage of the population needs to be immune to achieve herd immunity.