BALTIMORE — Dr. Wilbur Chen, who is a professor at the University Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, said the approval of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine means Maryland and the U.S as a whole could achieve herd immunity months earlier than anticipated.
“We might be able to get to community wide immunity by the end of summer," he said.
In order to make that happen, at least 70 percent of the population need to get the shots. So far, only eight percent of Americans have received both doses, which is the same rate here in Maryland.
However, vaccinations are expected to ramp up across the country with the approval of a third vaccine. On Tuesday. President Joe Biden said the U.S could have enough for all adults by the end of May.
“This will hopefully be the end of the long suffering we experienced for the whole year," Dr. Chen said.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single dose shot that’s shown to be at least 70 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. It’s even more effective at preventing severe illness--similar to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. But, there are concerns about variants spreading across the country that could put reaching herd immunity at risk
“What's even more concerning is the future variants, and those future variants could evade even more from our vaccines, our therapies, monoclonal antibodies and our testing schemes. And that’s what we really fear," he said.
Dr. Chen said we should all remain cautiously optimistic and continue to wear a mask and social distance.
He said we are getting closer to normal, but we aren’t there yet.
"If you relax these measures too early on and you don’t continue to them, even when you are having cases that are getting lower and lower, that you will run into that problem of continuing to have viral transmission."
Dr. Chen also said if everything goes right, he believes we could begin to full reopen schools and businesses by the fall.