inessential by Brent Simmons

When Are We Back To Normal?

I’m trying to figure out when we’ll be back to something like normal. I’m thinking of a few things:

  • Biden’s goal is 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days
  • The vaccines require two doses
  • There are 330 million people in the United States
  • Dr. Fauci has said that we’ll achieve herd immunity once we have 70-85% of the population vaccinated

Let’s say we achieve herd immunity, and some kind or normalcy, at around 250 million people vaccinated, which is just over 75%.

Since each person requires two doses, that’s 500 million doses.

The pace Biden is aiming for is 1 million doses per day. If we’re able to achieve and sustain that pace starting late in January — which is not at all a sure thing — we’ll have administered 500 million doses around mid-year 2022.

I keep hearing people talk optimistically about April or May of 2021. Me, I’m hoping to be able to see my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2021, but I’m not counting on it as a sure thing.

We’re going to need to go much faster with the vaccines. To reach 75% of the population by, say, Labor Day, in time for kids to go back to school, we’re going to need to administer 500 million doses by mid-August, about seven months after Biden’s inauguration. (Remember that immunity is ramped up about two weeks after the second dose.) To make this happen we’ll need to administer 2-2.5 million doses per day.

I don’t see how we get there by counting on local drug stores to administer most of the doses. I suspect we’re going to need to use parks and high school football fields — big, open spaces where large crowds can line up safely. And we’re going to need to do it day after day, with no days off.

(Is any of math wrong? There’s no point in being overly-precise here — but please tell me if I’ve made some error that changes things significantly.)