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Could we finally be reaching herd immunity?

Man putting on Mask
Man putting on Mask(KBJR)
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 11:14 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - More than 75,000 Kansans tested positive COVID-19 last month. So far, for January the state has averaged about 15,000 new cases every few days.

While the number may sound concerning, some doctors are cautiously optimistic we could be getting closer to herd immunity - a move we hoped to speed up through vaccinations.

“The virus seems to be more contagious so more people are getting in, it’s being spread more rapidly,” said Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns. “More people are getting it, but according to them, it’s less lethal. It’s less likely to make you seriously ill. It’s less likely to put you in the ICU. And they’re saying, ‘Well, if it spreads rapidly, it doesn’t cause a lot of deaths, maybe enough of the population will get it, and then they’ll get immunity from getting it and the virus will kind of peter out.”

Between the vaccination rate and natural immunity, health officials believe Kansas could be getting closer to the end of the pandemic.

“So they’re saying if this bears out, this could be the first inclination that this thing’s going to eventually calm down and in a few months, and it will kind of go into the background and we’ll see a few cases every year but not to the extent we’re seeing now. and the death rate will be dramatically lower, which in a way is a positive outcome,” said Minns.

He said he fears more deaths will happen before the state reaches herd immunity as more than 95 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wichita are currently unvaccinated. And for the first time, hospitals are recording the highest number of pediatric cases since the start of the pandemic.

“Regardless of whether this is the beginning of the end, or the virus really is less dangerous. In the meantime, it’s still we’re still seeing lots of people in the hospital, so we need to still take those actions we’ve been talking about,” Minns said.

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