California 'weeks away' from reaching herd immunity, UCSF doctors say

SAN FRANCISCO -- California could reach herd immunity by June 15, according to projections by doctors at UCSF.

"I am predicting that Gov. Newsom was actually right," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician with UCSF. "June 15th is when we're going to be done...get to herd immunity."

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June 15 is about six weeks away. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans last month to fully reopen the economy on that date.

Dr. Gandhi expects by that time immunity levels will overpower any ongoing transmission resulting in relaxed restrictions and more freedom.

"He's going to have to open up more without masks," said Gandhi. "All of that will show us as we mingle, the cases aren't going up....that we have enough of the population being immune."

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While Marin County tops California in percentage of people partially vaccinated, there is still a major obstacle for county health officials trying to reach heard immunity: People who don't trust the vaccine.

So how do we know California is on track to meet that goal?

"Mark my words, Los Angeles going into the yellow tier is huge in terms of disease control. Huge," said UCSF lead epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford.

Rutherford explains Los Angeles County moving into yellow is a signal herd immunity is closer than we think. Especially given the area has been plagued with COVID-19 hot spots throughout the pandemic.

"It means from a combination of naturally-acquired infection and vaccine immunity, they're really seeing a downturn in the likelihood of someone getting infected," he said. "So there's your answer, if they can do it there, we can do it anywhere."

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San Francisco and most of the Bay Area are leading the way to get there.

73 percent of the 16 and older population has been vaccinated with at least one dose in San Francisco County. Whereas, 54 percent of the 16 and older population has been vaccinated with at least one dose in Los Angeles County.

In total, California ranks 11th in the U.S. for the percentage of the population that's received at least one dose - around 50 percent, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.

"We'll reach herd immunity by mid-summer," Rutherford said.

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