Fact Check: Is Texas ‘Very Close To Herd Immunity’ Against COVID-19?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Alexandra HartApril 21, 2021 2:04 pm, , ,

From PolitiFact Texas:

Calculating Herd Immunity Is More Than ‘Simple Math’

Gov. Greg Abbott is optimistic about the state of the coronavirus pandemic in Texas, where the trend line of daily new cases has dropped from wintertime highs to springtime lows not seen since September.The reason behind his optimism, he told Fox News host Chris Wallace during an April 11 interview, is based on “simple math.”

“We absolutely aren’t declaring victory at this time. We remain very vigilant and guarded and proactive in our response, but there’s simple math behind the reason why we continue to have success,” Abbott said.

He went on: “When you add all the number of vaccinations that are taking place, as well as all of the acquired immunity from Texans who have been exposed and recovered from COVID-19, it means, very simply, it’s a whole lot more difficult for COVID to be spreading to other people in the state of Texas.”

Abbott’s calculation begged Wallace’s next question: “Do you think you have herd immunity in Texas now?”

“It looks like it could be very close to herd immunity,” Abbott replied.

As of April 12, about 5.8 million people had been fully vaccinated in Texas, or about 20% of the state population, according to state data. Additionally, the state has recorded about 2.8 million positive cases or probable cases, identified through antigen testing, since the beginning of the pandemic. Subtract from that total the 50,000 cases that have resulted in deaths. The rest, about 2.75 million Texans, have recovered from infection and are presumed to have some level of natural immunity to future infection.

Does the combined number of vaccinated people plus those with natural immunity — a total of 8.55 million people in a population of 29 million — bring Texas “very close to herd immunity”? We found that there are several other factors and caveats that Abbott’s equation omits. Calculating a population’s immunity level and its herd immunity threshold is more than a matter of simple math…

Read the full story and see how Abbott’s claim rated at PolitiFact, and listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

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