Mississippi is making headlines as one of the world’s COVID-19 hot spots. Our state has one of the highest positivity rates in the world. Twenty percent of Mississippians who are being tested are positive for COVID-19.
This alarming statistic landed Gov. Tate Reeves on the national news program “Face the Nation,” where he was grilled for his inaction. Reeves said, “Well, the reality is in our state that we've actually cut the total number of cases on a daily basis in half over the last two and a half weeks. We peaked at 1,391 as I mentioned earlier. We're down around 700 right now.”
TV commentator Margaret Brennan laid it on the line: “Aren't you worried about the health of your constituents?”
The interview illustrated the essence of the huge public policy debate going on in every city, county, state and nation.
On the one side: People who think the government can and should do everything in its power to stop the virus. On the other side: Those who believe the virus must run its course.
This debate has been raging now for over half a year. We are about to find the answer and Mississippi is ground zero.
I am reminded of the joke about the man who is caught by his wife in bed with another woman. In his defense, he asks his wife, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”
If you Google “herd immunity,” you will find article after article belittling the concept of herd immunity. It is considered by the national media as an absurd and dangerous way of containing COVID-19.
Yet here we are in Mississippi with one of the highest infection rates in the world with deaths and cases declining day by day, week by week. This is rather hard to explain.
State epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs says it’s because we are wearing masks. Maybe so. If wearing masks is the simple solution to this problem, it’s a pity the CDC criticized the idea six months ago at the start of the epidemic.
Or maybe, just maybe, there really is something to this herd immunity thing. That would explain how Sweden, which did not lock down, is now averaging one death per day in a nation of 10 million.
But wait. How can we have herd immunity, which requires something like 70 percent of people to be immune?
Turns out, half of us are immune to begin with, right off the bat, without doing a thing. Probably because of our exposure to the four common cold coronaviruses.
I’ll give you a personal example. Several years ago, my wife Ginny came down with a weird illness. She couldn’t quit coughing. At one point, I rushed her to the emergency room. She couldn’t breathe.
She battled this weird ailment for two months going from doctor to doctor. The best conclusion: She had contracted an unknown virus. She was given nebulizer treatments and slowly recovered.
In June, we got a call to come get our daughter Ruth from camp where there was a COVID-19 outbreak. Ginny drove her back, and she was sick and tested positive several days later. Ginny and our son John were in the car with her for over six hours. Neither got sick. Nor did anyone else in our family.
We all have stories like this. We know from personal experience that a big chunk of the population, probably 50 percent, have a substantial level of immunity to this virus. Even the CDC admits this. New studies are showing how. It’s not antibodies but our white blood cells (T cells). They have seen coronaviruses before and remember it. There are innumerable levels to our immune system, most of which science doesn’t yet understand.
To use antibody prevalence as the only factor in computing the herd immunity threshold is simply bad science. We were already at 50 percent, which means an additional 20 percent is all that’s needed to reach the herd immunity threshold.
Lo and behold. That’s exactly what we saw in New York. When antibody seroprevalence reach 20 percent, infections receded. Fifty percent T-cell immunity plus 20 percent antibody immunity equals a 70 percent herd immunity threshold.
That would certainly explain the much-welcomed decline in Mississippi cases over the last three weeks. The 20 percent test positivity rate is a proxy for antibody prevalence. Add that to our pre-existing T-cell immunity and you are at the herd immunity threshold of 70 percent. At that point, the virus starts to go away.
A dozen experts collaborated to produce a scientific paper explaining this. The first one was published, but the second was rejected. Why? Because the editors feared such knowledge would reduce compliance to masking and social distancing. Google “Gabriela M. Gomes” and read about it. (Although her most incisive tweets decrying this hypocrisy were removed by censors.) For months now, many posts, articles and tweets regarding the possibility of herd immunity have been censored.
But you can’t censor reality. The truth, if it is that, will emerge. Herd immunity may be what’s happening in Mississippi and it’s potentially good news. It’s reason not to rush to close our schools or shut down the economy. It means we may need to stand firm and punch through this horrible plague. It’s what we’ve always done and we’re still here, billions of us.
The alarmists have their theories, but the numbers are the numbers. They are down.
But who are you going to believe? The group think censors or your lying eyes?