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Home / Health / COVID-19 is setting up prisons and shows how herd immunity can be disordered

COVID-19 is setting up prisons and shows how herd immunity can be disordered



  • The coronavirus has run into prisons, particularly San Quentin State Prison in the Bay Area, and uncontrolled spread may suggest that herd immunity without a vaccine is highly impossible, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • At least 2,200 cases were reported by 3,260 people at the facility, with 25 deaths.
  • The death rate equals about 767 deaths per 100,000 people, which if applied across the US would mean 2.5 million deaths.
  • Herd immunity to COVID-19 requires immunity from 40% to 70% of the population, which means that at least 32,500,000 people must be immune.
  • Only 1.5% of US have tested positive for coronavirus so far.
  • Of the more than 5 million cases, over 1
    64,000 have died.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus has run into prisons, particularly in San Quentin, where as of Monday, 2,200 cases had been reported by 3,260 people at the facility; there have been 25 reported deaths.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus in San Quentin reflects how some proposed to deal with the virus, allowing as many members of the population as possible to catch it for the sake of creating herd immunity.

However, while more than two-thirds of the prison population may have caught the virus, the spread has meant only prolonged illness and unnecessary death, the LA Times said.

The facility’s death rate equates to about 767 people dying out of every 100,000 people, the LA Times reported. In contrast, the death rate in the U.S. as a whole is about 49.5 people for every 100,000. As of Tuesday, more than 164,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US and over 5 million have been infected.

If the death toll from San Quentin were to be reflected nationwide, it would equate to the 2.5 million people dying from COVID-19.

Michael Kirkpatrick, a former inmate who was released and tested positive for the virus, told the LA Times that only about five cells at his 50-cell level had no people who were infected with the virus.

“You can not help but take it – you are standing in a place without ventilation,” he told the LA Times.

A high mortality rate is a major consequence of policies that support an uncontrolled spread to test and achieve herd immunity, which is when a fairly large percentage of a population is immune to a pathogen, so as not to spreads widely. In order to have clutch immunity somewhere between 40% to 70% of the population would have to be immune to the coronavirus for that to happen, Business Insider previously reported.

Only 5,139,920 are infected across the US, which is only 1.5% of the population. In order to approach somewhere close to the heard immunity at least 132.5 million people must be immune to the virus, which means they must be exposed.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, has said the degree of exposure should not only come from people who become infected and recover, but also vaccinations, the LA Times reported.

The situation playing in prison is not the only indication that herd immunity cannot be achieved anytime soon, especially without a vaccine.

A large Spanish study last month found that antibodies to the coronavirus disappeared after just a few weeks in some patients, Business Insider previously reported. The study found that only 5% of those tested in Spain carried antibodies to the virus and that 4% of people who tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in the first round of testing did not test positive for antibodies a week later.


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