Public Health

When Will COVID End In The USA? When Will We Reach Herd Immunity? (Updated 04/17/2021)

Khang T. Vuong, MHA17 Apr 2021

Quick Digest - Updated April 17, 2021

  • The Biden Administration has rolled out a seven-point plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic including doubling the number of drive-through testing sites, implementing a mask mandate, and investing $25B in vaccine manufacturing and distribution
  • As of March 22, 2021, 24% of people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Furthermore, 38% of the population has received at least one dose.
  • In order to epidemiologically end the pandemic, we need at least 75% of the population to have immunity against the COVID-19 virus, which means that at least 245 million Americans need to be fully vaccinated.

How to read this data: We understand that this is an ambitious project. While this forecast will be adjusted as the situation involves, we published this article because it can be helpful for many to consider daily life decisions. Most importantly, it helps reducing uncertainty and serves as a beacon of hope - that yes, the end to this deadly pandemic is in sight. 

The USA can reach herd immunity as early as Q3-Q4 2021.

McKinsey, a global consulting firm with a network of experts and researchers, released an update on January 20, 2020, which indicated that the U.S. could reach herd immunity as early as Q3-Q4 2021. 

How did McKinsey come up with this prediction? The prediction model was built on several sources of actual data and assumptions. These assumptions included: how quickly the U.S. can reach herd immunity, the vaccine efficacy (the ability to produce desired outcomes), and how long the protection effect will last.  

US will reach herd immunity by Q3-Q4 2020

States with more robust vaccination programs will see earlier herd immunity timelines than those without.

Even though the end to the COVID-19 pandemic is foreseeable, not all states will have the same end date. Depending on the speed to reach herd immunity via vaccination or natural infection, each state will have a different timeline. 

When will we reach herd immunity? A state by state breakdown

To determine how will the pandemic will end in each state, we used the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine tracker data and measured the weekly growth of vaccine dissemination. We assume that the vaccine will be 94-95% effective as mentioned in the FDA analyses. Please note that these dates only reflect the herd immunity achieved by vaccines alone. There exist other factors that contribute to when we will achieve herd immunity, but these dates serve as a general guideline of when life should return to normal.

This forecast uses data from CDC | Updated: April 17, 2021, 3:00 PM - this table will be updated periodically, be sure to check back weekly. 

StatePredicted Herd Immunity Date Based Vaccine Distribution Growth
District of Columbia11/17/2021
North Carolina12/18/2021
North Dakota10/22/2021
New Hampshire10/22/2021
New Jersey10/28/2021
New Mexico9/20/2021
New York State11/5/2021
Rhode Island10/4/2021
South Carolina1/7/2022
South Dakota10/4/2021
West Virginia11/20/2021
USA Overall11/27/2021

Learn more about Mira

Two factors will influence how soon the COVID-19 pandemic will end.

The number of people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the number one factor that will determine how quickly we can put an end to the pandemic is the number of people who will be willing to get the vaccine. It is suggested that if we can get 75-85% of the population vaccinated, the COVID-19 pandemic will be functionally over. 

How long immunity will last

Second, according to the CDC, there are currently two authorized vaccines on the market in the U.S. - manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. While both of these vaccines have been reported to have a 95% effectiveness, we still need to see how long the immunity effect will last after a large percentage of the population is vaccinated. 

Data suggests that rapid vaccine rollout and universal mask mandates can reduce daily deaths by at least half

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent research center at the University of Washington, publishes periodic predictions using past and current COVID-19 data. Their data has indicated that by February 2021, we could see a 50% or more reduction in daily deaths if rapid vaccine rollout and universal mask mandates are both in effect. 

This emphasizes the point that vaccine alone cannot end the pandemic, but mask-wearing is needed as well. The U.S. vaccine rollout will likely take at least six months to reach 75% to 85% of the population. During that period, COVID could still spread to vulnerable individuals and increase the number of deaths. 

At the same time, easing mandates early could increase the number of deaths significantly. In this forecast, daily deaths on February 20 could increase from 12,000 to 18,932 without mandates. This also means local and state governments will not likely lift in-door dining, gathering, and traveling restrictions until at least Q2 2021. 

Daily deaths prediction updated December 17, 2020 - University of Washington

What happens in 2022? When will COVID be over?

While we don't know how successful we are at controlling COVID-19 as a pandemic, we know that certain infectious diseases like the flu and cold tend to be seasonal and return every year. 

Depending on how the virus mutates and if the vaccine protects against new strains (which we already see in the U.K.), future COVID-19 infections could be prevented and treated similarly to the Flu.

Healthcare Can Be Confusing, Here Are More Resources:

Sources & references:

Millennials are leaving health insurance carriers to join the new "CostCo" of healthcare.

"My insurance premiums went up 30% this year. My husband and I switched to Mira and never looked back," said Danna - Brooklyn, NYC