So far, the most encouraging data are emerging out of the U.S., the U.K. and Israel, countries running the fastest vaccination pace. Since early January, daily new cases in the U.S. declined from as high as 250,000 to 70,000. In the U.K., the number of new cases dropped from 58,000 to 6,300.
For Israel, the number of new cases declined from 8,400 to 3,600 and, even though hospitalizations remain high because of mutant strains of the virus and people’s tolerance of social distancing is waning, the country has more than 55% vaccinated. At the current pace, the E.U. would take 10 months, at best, to get there.
Speed Remains the Primary Risk
More recently, worries about Variants of Concern (VoCs) raised some alarm bells that vaccines may not help achieve herd immunity after all. A Harvard University study, however, shows that herd immunity might be achieved if vaccine rollout is fast enough. Even if vaccine effectiveness falls to 70% from 95%, the world still has a path to achieving herd immunity and ending the pandemic, according to the study.
These findings highlight the challenges of fast and widespread deployment of a variety of vaccines across borders. This is perhaps the backdrop of temporary reversals observed in iFlow back toward the U.S. bond market, found in our own iFlow data discussed above.
Earlier estimates based on highly effective vaccines held that within the immunity window of six months, 50-60% of the population would have to be vaccinated in order to create herd effects. At 70% vaccine effectiveness, the threshold for herd immunity will rise to roughly 75%.
According to the Harvard research, given high success ratios of the vaccines, a second-best outcome would be the development of milder symptoms — essentially turning COVID-19 into a milder illness.
Assuming a six-month immunity window, a pace of delivering one shot to 0.33% of the population each day would achieve 60% immunity after six months (0.33 * 182 = 60%). The range of vaccination pace would be as follows: 0.27% of the population getting one shot daily to reach 50% immunity within six months, or 0.41% of the population vaccinated daily to reach 75% immunity also within six months.
The current vaccination pace stands at 1.1% of the population receiving daily vaccines in Israel and 0.68% in the UAE. For the U.K. it is also quite robust at 0.58% (see figure 3 below) as it is in the U.S. at 0.54%. Additional countries at rates above 0.33% are Morocco, Chile and Turkey.