Local COVID-19 immunity likely significantly higher than just those vaccinated


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – COVID-19 infection rates have local experts feeling optimistic.

Hospitalizations and deaths are declining in both the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, which means we could be inching closer to herd immunity.

Fully vaccinated residents in Chatham County only make up 33% of the population, while over in South Carolina, Beaufort County is at 43%.

Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis says almost 20% more people in our area could have immunity to COVID-19.

“I would hazard to guess that we are at about 50 percent,” said Davis.

He says that’s an estimate as most experts believe there were thousands of asymptomatic infections unreported.

“We are guessing we’d have to be around 70% to 80% to see a real difference, and it’s not like it’s gone away,” said Davis. “We’re not just plummeting, we are holding steady now that community transmission is holding at 66 to 65.”

Davis says it’s still safe to celebrate the improvement. On Monday, Chatham County reported just three new COVID cases with an average daily new case rate of 10 compared to 12 for the previous two weeks.

Hospitalizations have also declined close to 34% in the last two weeks .

Currently, Beaufort County hospitals are treating three COVID-19 patients, and only 13 new cases have been reported since Saturday.

“We are benefitting from the fact well over 75% of those 65 and older pursued vaccination,” said Memorial Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Stephen Thacker, “and really throughout most of the health districts across the coast.”

It would be helpful to know how many people in addition to those vaccinated have COVID-19 immunity, but it would require mass blood sampling that would be costly and logistically, very difficult.

“It would have to be done at the state level,” said Thacker. “I am not aware of any plans to do anything like that.”

Thacker says although COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining, those who are being admitted are increasingly younger.

He stresses to anyone who is eligible that it is important and potentially life-saving to get vaccinated.

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