Shelby County close to reaching herd immunity in fight against COVID, local doctor says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One of the top infectious disease specialists said we are close to reaching herd immunity in Shelby County.

Dr. Manoj Jain, who advises the COVID-19 Task Force, believes we are close because more people are vaccinated or have recovered from the Delta strain of the virus.

He said we are also seeing a decrease in hospitalizations and cases.

“The decline is as steep as the rise was with the Delta variant, and this is really promising,” said Dr. Jain.

Dr. Jain is optimistic about the future because he’s seeing a decrease in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions.

He works for Baptist Memorial Healthcare and advises the COVID-19 task force.

Dr. Jain also believes we are close to reaching herd immunity.

He explains a couple of factors that can influence this, like a decrease in antibody immunity or if another contagious variant surfaces.

“We need to keep the pressure on through the masking, testing, and vaccinating. If we begin to give up on these things, there is a very good chance this can easily turn into community transmission again,” said Dr. Jain.

Dr. Jain said one of the reasons we are seeing less community transmission is the mask mandate.

He said another positive is there aren’t any new contagious variants.

“When we have a few cases here and there, we can manage, and the hospitals can take care of those, but when community transmission occurs, that’s when we really get in trouble when we don’t have enough hospital beds or ICU beds available,” said Dr. Jain.

Overall, Dr. Jain believes we need to continue following safety measures as the holiday season begins so we can reach herd immunity and eventually relax restrictions.

“We need to get more and more people vaccinated in order to maintain a high level of individuals who are not vulnerable,” said Dr. Jain.