CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Nearly three-quarters of residents in Georgetown, Horry, and Williamsburg counties now have immunity to COVID-19, according to research from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
Those with Tidelands Health and MUSC said based on the estimated percentage of immunity, things are getting better.
As of now, 74% percent of the population in Georgetown County is immune either through COVID-19 vaccinations or from natural immunities with antibodies and places the county`s immunity level in the Top Three statewide.
MUSC estimates the statewide immunity has reached 65% whereas the Tri-county remains at 62%.
Physicians stated they are starting to have a new hope, which they attributed to an increase in vaccinations and a drop in cases. Dr. Michael Sweat, the Faculty director, for MUSC Center for Global Health, and Project Director for the COVID-19 Tracking Project, said they are seeing about 15 cases per day per 100 thousand people, which is much lower than in previous months.
The new cases are now 25% lower than the week prior. However, the decrease comes on the backdrop of the U.K. variant running rampant throughout the nation.
But Dr. Sweat said this simply shows that the vaccines are working very well. Additionally, most people who had a recent infection and were unvaccinated now have natural immunity, but there’s still a significant portion of people who are not vaccinated or haven’t had an infection. Dr. Sweat said it’s that group that remains at high risk.
Dr. Gerald Harmon, the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Tidelands Health, said his success in Georgetown and along the Grand Strand had been through outreach.
Dr. Harmon said his name is on 70,000 of those vaccines as the Vice President of Medical Affairs and as the ordering doctor.
He went on, “we’ve gone to influencers, I have personally talked to churches, to congregations to organizations, to the NAACP, to the county, to the chambers of commerce, multiple community organizations, city clubs, espousing the need for and the safety of these vaccines. So I think it’s been an all hands-on deck effort.”
Despite the projections showing better days ahead, Dr. Sweat said there’s still a ways to go to reach the end of the pandemic. With the original strain of SARS-COV2, the belief was roughly 72% of immunity would lead us to herd immunity. However, with the new strains, professionals believe we need to be at 85-90% immunity to reach an end.
Dr. Sweat explained, “the only way to know when you reach sort of a strong level of herd immunity that would drive the pandemic to super-low numbers, is time.” Even more, for those who have natural immunity, Dr. Sweat said it’s important to still get vaccinated as it’s unclear how long that natural immunity will last.
Dr. Sweat also noted that while vaccines are readily available here in South Carolina, a plan will need to be made on a global scale to ensure no additional variants pop up.
For more on MUSC’s project, click here.
For the latest estimated immunity percentage in a county by county break down, click here.