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COVID cases have officially fallen 77% over the last six weeks, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine & Bloomberg School of Public Health professor Doctor Marty Makary argues in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that herd immunity is responsible for the drastic drop.
“[N]atural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing,” Dr. Makary writes in the Journal. “Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.”
The doomsayers are currently focused on variants, more variants and the most lethal variants known to man — Dr. Michael Osterholm from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota is calling the variants a “Cat 5 hurricane that is coming” and paints a dark picture, thanks to the B117 variant, in his latest podcast — but Makary argues the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t as far away as doomsayers believe.
“At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life,” Makary writes.
“The consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.”
What does Dr. Makary’s COVID herd immunity stance mean for the sports world? Could we really see full stadiums — like what we saw out of Australia in November — by April? We know that fans will be allowed back to ballparks in some cities. We know the Marlins will allow 20% capacity for a ballpark that averaged just over 10,000 fans in 2019. And Spring Training cities will be allowing fans in the stands.
While the Masters will still have a limited capacity for its April 5-11 tournament since arrangements had to be made months in advance to make the event run smoothly, an event like the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Steelers and Cowboys on August 5 could see full attendance.
Unless Major League Baseball beats them to the punch — which isn’t likely because it’s Major League Baseball — the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August could be your first look at life post-pandemic.
“I think there’s a very good shot that we’ll be the first full stadium for football in the United States in nearly two years,” Hall of Fame president David Baker told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “And, to me, that’s going to be good for the rest of the country and for the football season ahead. It shows that we can get our economy going and our kids educated and make even more advances on health care. But we’re going to be ready.”
“I think by the time we get to August, we’re gonna be ready to go,” Baker said. “The vaccine is picking up, obviously the trend line is in the right direction right now. I think the NFL has a wonderful study that they did with the CDC that basically said that there wasn’t one infection that could be traced to the 1.2 million people that went to a game.
“At the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we’ve got new technology that takes the temperature of as many as 70 people at a time as they go through the Hall. So there’s a lot of things we can do. We got a great operational team. We’re going to rely very heavily on the experts at the NFL.”
What’s very clear here is that a period of huge change is five miles ahead of us on the COVID highway. Either Osterholm is right and there’s yet another surge of variants coming, or Makary is right and life in the U.S. will soon get back to normal.