Sep 26, 2020 - Health

Study: Fewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies

Illustration of a purple coronavirus under a spotlight in the dark

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Less than 10% of the United States population has coronavirus antibodies, a study published in The Lancet on Friday found.

Why it matters: The findings suggest that the U.S. is far from herd immunity without a vaccine. Herd immunity — wherein widespread outbreaks are prevented because enough people in a community are immune to a disease — is one tactic public health experts are hoping could help squash the virus for good.

  • Yes, but: The Trump administration has repeatedly suggested that reopening America's economy could boost herd immunity.
    • Public health officials say a vaccine should remain the priority on the path toward normalcy.

What they're saying: CDC Director Robert Redfield also said Wednesday at a Senate hearing that preliminary data shows more than 90% of Americans remain susceptible to COVID-19.

  • Redfield urged Americans to continue wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and staying home when sick.

Between the lines: There was variance in antibody frequencies depending on location. Areas like New York City and New Jersey, where the virus festered this spring, saw higher rates of antibodies.

  • But more rural areas like Idaho and the Dakotas saw lower antibody rates.
  • Overall, researchers estimate the prevalence to be roughly 9.3%

Methodology: The Stanford University study looked at blood samples from 28,500 dialysis patients in 46 states.

Go deeper