Oregon ‘Herd Immunity’ Against COVID-19 Delta Variant Should Arrive In Late December, OHSU Forecasts
The worst could be over in the next two months – at least for the delta variant.
The strain on Oregon hospitals caused by the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant has already started to ease, according to data provided by the Oregon Health Authority. And a new forecast from Oregon Health & Science University concludes that the drop-off in hospitalizations will continue.
Because the variant now has fewer and fewer willing hosts in the state, another surge that would stretch hospitals to their limits probably isn’t in the cards.
“It’s going to be increasingly difficult to generate a new surge in hospitalizations,” said Peter Graven, an OHSU researcher who has been modeling expected coronavirus hospitalization numbers on a weekly basis since the beginning of the pandemic.
This positive outlook comes from crunching the numbers on Oregon’s vaccination rate (about 71% of the adult population) and the spread of the disease so far among the unvaccinated, as well as considering the impact of federal vaccine mandates and Oregon’s vaccine mandate for certain workers, which kicks in Monday.
OHSU says “about 22% of Oregonians are still vulnerable to infection” from the delta variant.
The effects of herd immunity for the delta variant are likely to take hold when about 85% of the population carries immunity from vaccination or recent infection, and that’s within sight in Oregon, Graven said. He forecasts that Oregon will reach that point around Dec. 26, although he anticipates there will be another 177,000 infections in Oregon before then.
While Oregon COVID-19 cases have been trending down overall since early September, a significant number of the state’s intensive-care beds are still being taken up by coronavirus patients. This is especially the case in the eastern part of Oregon, where it’s still more than 40%.
Fewer than 5% of Oregon’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients are vaccinated.