Gov. Greg Abbott's claim that Texas is 'very close' to herd immunity is not 'even close' to being true, says expert

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Thomas Colson
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greg abbott texas
Greg Abbott Reuters/Lucas Jackson
  • Gov. Greg Abbott claimed the state of Texas is "very close" to herd immunity.

  • The claim has been disputed by experts.

  • "There is no way on God's green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity," an epidemiologist told the New York Times.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Gov. Greg Abbott's claim that the state of Texas is "very close" to herd immunity has been dismissed by a leading expert, who said there was "no way on God's green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity."

Abbott told Fox News on Sunday that: "When you add all the number of vaccinations that have taken place, as well as all of the acquired immunity from all of the Texans who have been exposed and recovered from COVID-19, it means very simply it's a whole lot more difficult for COVID-19 to be spreading to other people in the state of Texas.

"More than 70% of our seniors have received a vaccine shot. More than 50% of those who are 60 to 65 have received a vaccine shot. I don't know what herd immunity is but when you add that to acquired immunity, it looks like that could be very close to herd immunity," he said.

Herd immunity is when enough people in a population have immunity, either through vaccination or from past infection, to stop a disease from spreading uncontrollably.

Scientists are unsure what percentage of a population needs to be immune from COVID-19, but many say it is likely to be 70% above or higher, the Associated Press reported.

Dr. Antony Fauci, the leading US infectious diseases expert, predicted in December that the herd immunity figure could even be as high as 85% for coronavirus.

The emergence of new, more infectious could also complicate attempts to determine herd immunity threshold.

However, even by Gov. Abbott's terms, Texas does not appear to be "very close" to herd immunity.

Just 19% of Texans have received 2 shots of a coronavirus vaccination, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures cited by The Washington Post.

Further figures cited by the Post which were compiled by Columbia University predicted that, by January, a total of 31% of Texans had contracted the virus.

That could mean that at least 50% of Texans have immunity to COVID-19 but appears to fall well short of herd immunity.

Michael Osterholm, a leading epidemiologist told the New York Times on Sunday of Abbott's claim: "There is no way on God's green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity."

He added: "Look no further than Michigan and Minnesota, which have much higher rates of vaccination than Texas. And we're already seeing widespread transmission."

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