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The NC Threat-Free Index and Immunity Update for the Week Ending October 11

Image source: Screenshot from the Oct. 7 WBTV news story about NASCAR fans enjoying Circle K Speed Street festival in downtown Charlotte Oct. 7–9.

This past week nearly 99.6% of people in NC posed no threat of passing along COVID-19 to anyone, and over seven out of eight (87.9%) adult North Carolinians are estimated to have either vaccine-induced or natural immunity.

Here is the NC Threat-Free Index for the week ending October 11 (click here for an explanation of the NC Threat-Free Index):

  • As of October 11: 1,371,830 North Carolinians are presumed to be recovered from COVID-19.
  • Active cases comprised just 3.2% of NC’s total case count (note: a case of COVID isn’t a permanent infection, and only someone with an active case of the virus can conceivably transmit it to you)
  • Active cases represented just over 0.4% (four-tenths of one percent) of NC’s population (note: active cases are lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus recoveries and deaths)
  • About 22 out of every 23 (95.6%) of NC’s total cases were recovered, meaning they are (a) no longer infectious, (b) have acquired persistent, longlasting, and robust natural immunity to Covid-19, and (c) have stronger immunity against Covid-19 and its variants than even those who are fully vaccinated
  • Only 0.16% of people in NC had died with COVID-19 (regardless of the actual cause of death and amid research findings as well as admissions from DHHS and the CDC that a significant proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths were “not related to COVID-19”)
  • All things considered, nearly 99.6% of people in NC posed no threat of passing along COVID-19 to anyone (note: this proportion will fluctuate based on relative growth in lab-confirmed cases vs. recoveries, and it is likely understated because it does not account for vaccinations)

Herd immunity update

This week marks an adjustment in how herd immunity is estimated. DHHS now identifies and publishes reinfections among the daily new cases. While rare, they are instances of double-counting that must be taken out so as not to inflate the herd immunity estimate. Also, in estimating herd immunity for adult North Carolinians, only the adult population must be considered (when these estimations were started, vaccinations below 18 were rare, and the governor had set a standard for fully reopening based on adult vaccinations.)

The reason to keep estimating herd immunity among adult North Carolinians is because they are the ones most likely to be deprived of jobs, ability to travel, access to government services, access to higher education, ability to shop, dine, attend concerts, etc., and freedom to do other normal things based solely on vaccination status. If the ostensible goal is to further society’s immunity to Covid, then it shouldn’t matter whether they have vaccine-induced immunity or the stronger, more durable natural immunity.

Furthermore, give (a) the difficulties of “proving” natural immunity and (b) that it’s obviously wrong to think that one’s vaccination doesn’t work if someone nearby is unvaccinated, vaccination mandates are unjustifiable. As for (b), a belief a vaccine is that ineffective cannot then be used to justify forcing the same vaccine on anyone else.

For October 11, the estimate is now over seven-eighths (87.9%) of adult North Carolinians with immunity (vaccine-induced immunity and natural immunity), using DHHS case numbers, CDC estimates of actual infections, DHHS estimates of current vaccinations, and the formula outlined here.

Recall that Cooper’s standard of immunity was two-thirds (66.7%) of adult North Carolinians partially vaccinated. This standard had no regard whatsoever for natural immunity from actual infection, even though that is the stronger and more durable immunityVaccination is a means, not the end — the goal is herd immunity. That standard has been eclipsed: 70% of adult North Carolinians are partially vaccinated.

Furthermore, including vaccinated and naturally immune children (18 and under) into the mix, North Carolina is at 81.5% immunity.

Putting it all in context: for the week ending October 11, while fewer than one in eight people in North Carolina lack immunity against Covid-19, only about four people in 1,000 posed any risk of passing along Covid-19.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...