Speaking to Fox News’ The Story on Monday evening, Dr Marty Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said “there is a false construct out there” in regards to the vaccine.
“There’s a recommendation that we need to get every American immunised in order to get a handle on the pandemic,” Dr Makary said on Monday.
“The reality is that about 25 to 50 per cent of Americans have already had the infection and have some natural immunity.
“Now, we don’t know if that’s a little better, a little worse, or the same as vaccinated immunity, but … we may only need to get an additional 20 per cent of the population immunised by February or March to really hit those 70 per cent herd immunity levels,” he added.
Herd immunity is a concept where the majority of a population becomes immune to a disease through vaccination, which slows down the spread of the virus and protects those who have not yet received treatment.
The key to the concept is mass vaccination, as according to the World Health Organization: “Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.”
Research at King’s College London found that the level of antibodies that kill coronavirus in the body wanes over a three month period after infection. However, it is believed a second infection would be milder than the first, according to the BBC.
The US started rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech earlier this month, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a separate one for emergency use from Moderna last week.
At least eight million doses of the vaccines are expected to be rolled out across the US this week, according to general Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed.
President-elect Joe Biden, who was administered his first dose live on television on Monday, has vowed to distribute 100 million coronavirus vaccines across the US during his first 100 days in office, after he is inaugurated on 20 January.
However, recent figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll showed that 42 per cent of Republicans said that they probably would not or would definitely not get a coronavirus vaccine.
Dr Makary said that he “respects” those who choose “not to have the vaccine right now under the emergency authorisation”, but clarified that the vaccines are “incredibly safe”.
He added: “There were zero preventable serious adverse events, and if you run as many statistical tests that the FDA reviewed as you can on the number zero, it still comes out zero.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 18 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 319,466.