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“Most people understand immunity to mean that once a person has been exposed to a disease, they can’t get it again. It’s an easy concept to grasp, and some people have hoped that widespread immunity could be the way out of this pandemic: If enough of the population becomes immune to the disease, the spread would be stopped, since the virus would run out of new, susceptible targets. The “herd” of immune people would protect everyone.

But getting to herd immunity without a vaccine isn’t as simple as the idea itself. A number of variables can affect when herd immunity is reached — and what it costs to get there — and they vary depending on the disease. How infectious is the disease? How deadly is it? And how long do people stay immune once they’ve gotten it? Adjusting any of these variables can drastically change the outcome of this equation. You can probably sense where this is heading …”

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Drew (Ph.D., Materials Science)

Drew (Ph.D., Materials Science)

Hey there! I'm Drew, cofounder and editor-in-chief at 1440. Ph.D. in physics and materials science, former science advisor in the US Senate and in both the Obama and Trump administrations. @DrewFrom1440

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