CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) recently unveiled a tool that tracks estimated COVID-19 immunity among the population.
As of March 24, South Carolina has an estimated 47% immunity, with 20% being vaccine immunity and 27% being natural immunity.
- Charleston has an estimated 43% immunity, 25% being vaccine immunity and 18% being natural immunity.
- Berkeley has 27% immunity, with 13% being vaccine immunity and 14% being natural immunity.
- Colleton has 34% immunity, with 15$ being vaccine immunity and 19% being natural immunity.
- Dorchester has 39% immunity, with 16% being vaccine immunity and 23% being natural immunity.
- Georgetown has 51% immunity, with 29% being vaccine immunity and 22% being natural immunity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates between 70% and 80% immunity is necessary to reach herd immunity.
Despite the promising rise in population immunity, experts warned of an increase in local COVID-19 cases.
The MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project notes that infections are up 5% over the past week.
Likewise, with an increase in infections comes an increase in the circulation of COVID-19 variant strains, which experts worry could threaten herd immunity.
In South Carolina, the South African variant is of the greatest concern, with 53 cases reported as of March 25. There are 37 reported cases of the UK variant.
Dr. Michael Sweat, director of the MUSC Center for Global Health, pointed to the situation in Europe, noting that once variants made up about 50% of cases in circulation “they just had explosive growth,” leading many European nations to revert to lockdowns.
Dr. Sweat worries that “if we get to this point where it really takes off, which will probably happen in a few weeks where we get to that 50% mark, for the proportion of cases that are variant, we’ll have this battle going on between that force and vaccines.”
However, the future is bright, according to Dr. Sweat:
“The faster we can vaccinate, the faster we can suppress the variants. And I tend to be on the optimistic side. I think by summer, when we get a larger and larger proportion of the people vaccinated, the variant will not win that battle. But we’re in this interim period, right?”