Texas Governor’s Big Coronavirus Boast Gets A Blunt Fact Check From The Experts

by Joseph K. Clark

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s claim that his state could be “very close” to herd immunity from the coronavirus pandemic was met with incredulity by the experts. “I don’t know what herd immunity is,” Abbott admitted on Fox News on Sunday. Still, he said Texas “looks like it could be very close to herd immunity” based on the number of people vaccinated and those who have antibodies from getting COVID-19. Infectious diseases expert Michael Osterholm told the New York Times that Abbott is wrong.



“There is no way on God’s green earth that Texas is anywhere even close to herd immunity,” Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the Times.  He pointed to the Upper Midwest as a cautionary tale.

“Look no further than Michigan and Minnesota, which have much higher rates of vaccination than Texas,” Osterholm said. “And we’re already seeing widespread transmission,” Osterholm warned that Texas could see rising infection rates in a matter of weeks as fast-moving variants take hold.

“These variants are game-changers,” he said. Most experts believe herd immunity is possible when 70% to 90% of the population is immune to the virus, either from vaccination or from COVID-19 recovery, The Washington Posted noted. However, that number is closer to 50% in Texas, including 19% who are fully vaccinated.

On CNN, cardiologist Jonathan Reiner also disputed Abbott’s estimate. “I know what herd immunity looks like,” Reiner said, estimating a 70% to 80% threshold. “We’re not close to that yet … We’re not close to that in Texas, and we’re actually not close to that in the United States yet.”

Reiner pointed out that the last 20% to 30% will be the hardest due to people being hesitant to get vaccinated, including a large number in the military. “If we don’t vaccinate that last 30% or so, we’re still going to have to live with this virus for a very long time,” Reiner said.  Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter.

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