Last modified on September 29, 2021, at 18:56

Essay: Joe Biden may have to become more bipartisan to get Republicans to rally behind Covid-19 vaccination in order to get to herd immunity in the USA

Herd immunity is having a large percentage of the population immune to a disease in order to prevent the spread of that disease. Even individuals not immune are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community. This is also known as herd immunity.[1] The thresholds for herd immunity to protect against various diseases range from 85% to 94% vaccination rates.[2]

On July 6, 2021, the Washington Post published the opinion piece If Biden wants to convince the vaccine hesitant, give Trump credit for the vaccines. Ronald Reagan rightly said, "There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit."

The May 11, 2021, NY Times article Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe indicates:

"Early on, the target herd immunity threshold was estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent of the population. Most experts, including Dr. Fauci, expected that the United States would be able to reach it once vaccines were available.
But as vaccines were developed and distribution ramped up through the winter and into the spring, estimates of the threshold began to rise. That is because the initial calculations were based on the contagiousness of the original version of the virus. The predominant variant now circulating in the United States, called B.1.1.7 and first identified in Britain, is about 60 percent more transmissible.
As a result, experts now calculate the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80 percent. If even more contagious variants develop, or if scientists find that immunized people can still transmit the virus, the calculation will have to be revised upward again.
Polls show that about 30 percent of the U.S. population is still reluctant to be vaccinated. That number is expected to improve but probably not enough. “It is theoretically possible that we could get to about 90 percent vaccination coverage, but not super likely, I would say,” said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Though resistance to the vaccines is a main reason the United States is unlikely to reach herd immunity, it is not the only one....
Now, more than half of adults in the United States have been inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine. But daily vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.
Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers."[3]

American political persuasions and Covid-19 vaccination rates in May 2021: A Monmouth poll this month showed that only 36% of Republicans said they had received at least one shot of the vaccine -- compared with 67% of Democrats and 47% of independents -- and a stunning 43% of Republicans said they would likely never get the vaccine.[4]

In order to get Republicans to rally for Covid-19 vaccination, Joe Biden is going to have to be more bipartisan.

If Biden doesn't get GOP cooperation for a vaccination drive, the USA may never reach herd immunity.

This is Biden's biggest and most important challenge. If he doesn't rise to the occasion, the Covid-19 pandemic could dog his presidency.

Vaccination rates are down 42% compared to last month. Several states are canceling orders for more vaccines.[5] The Biden Administration has to be much more aggressive in tackling vaccine hesitancy. The Biden Administration should have regular vaccine press conferences with question and answer sessions. The Biden Administration should wave more vaccine ambassadors for various demographic segments of the USA (ethnic, religious, etc.). India shows the danger of being complacent.

Richard Nixon went to China. Donald Trump had a bromance with Kim Jong-un that netted some results. Biden is going to be more bipartisan to have some bargaining leverage to elicit Republican support for vaccination. He has no other bargaining chips than can be used except bipartisanship.

Right now, there is a perverse incentive for Republicans to have Biden fail to conquer the pandemic in the USA. He has to somehow get them more partial credit for tackling the pandemic.

Neither the Democrats or Republicans are for people dying of a preventable disease. But there is indifference and inertia. Right now, there is starting to be more vaccine than Americans willing to get vaccinated in some areas. Joe Biden has to do something to break this trajectory.

A joke: Mark my words and mark them well. Joe Biden is going to have to get Twitter to unban Donald Trump in exchange for Trump barnstorming the USA extolling the benefits of vaccination.

Tackling Black/Hispanic vaccine hesitancy is a challenge (African-Americans have a history of being treated poorly by the medical system. Tuskegee Syphilis Study, etc.).

But one of the largest vaccine-resistant populations is Republicans. So Biden has to break this logjam. He has no other choice. Playing the blame game and trying to blame Republicans is not going to work. Because as the Democrat President Harry Truman said, "The buck stops here". Many Americans will blame Biden if he fails to conquer the pandemic.

A good economy helps presidents getting reelected. And an ongoing pandemic in the USA is not going to help the American economy.

Four months ago, racial and ethnic differences in vaccination acceptance were large but they have since narrowed and no longer pose a major obstacle to the vaccination campaign. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, vaccine refusal stands at 20% for African Americans, 19% for Whites, and 16% for Latinos.[6]

So Republicans are one the biggest logjams as far a vaccination leading to herd immunity.

It comes down to trust and convenience. Republicans are apt to trust Republicans more. So Biden needs their help. He is going to have to give concessions to Republicans in exchange for more Republican support for vaccination.

Perhaps in exchange for concessions and/or an appeal to the common good, Biden could get white evangelicals to support vaccination. And since white evangelicals are a key voting block for Republicans, this would make it easier for Biden to develop some Republican allies to support Covid-19 vaccination.

Vaccination alone will likely solve the coronavirus pandemic. Biden must get Donald Trump to embrace mask wearing (which will probably never happen)

  • "Even if 100% of people got vaccinated, that would not bring the effective reproductive number under 1. Hence, other mitigation measures are needed, such as masking."[7] Conservative (talk) 09:38, August 23, 2021 (EDT)

Since Donald Trump significantly helped stoke anti-mask sentiments, paradoxically only he could get a portion of anti-mask Americans to embrace masks. As Trump once said, "I alone can fix it."

The coronavirus pandemic and its economic effects is likely going to kill off whatever small chance Biden had of being reelected. Biden will likely never get Donald Trump to embrace mask wearing.

Anthony Fauci on the coronavirus epidemic and herd immunity in the United States

On Christmas Eve 2020, The New York Times reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci initially underestimated the level of vaccination needed to attain herd immunity from the coronavirus:[8]

In the pandemic’s early days, Dr. Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate [of immunity to attain herd immunity as] most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying “70, 75 percent” in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said “75, 80, 85 percent” and “75 to 80-plus percent.”

In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.

Fauci then stated as follows: "Hard as it may be to hear, he said, he believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt — almost as much as is needed to stop a measles outbreak."[9]

Question and additional commentary

Question: Why hasn't the Joe Biden administration gotten Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, James Lebrun, famous Hispanics, evangelical leaders, etc. etc. to promote Covid-19 vaccination? The lack of imagination in the Biden administration to overcome vaccination hesitancy is almost criminal.

Of course, we know why Joe Biden hasn't gone on a personal blitz of appearances promoting vaccination. His lack of mental acuity keeps him largely hidden from the public. See: Joe Biden's cognitive decline

Do I expect that Joe Biden will become more bipartisan?

I suspect Joe Biden will not become more bipartisan. Maybe if the Democrats receive a shellacking in the midterms, it will force the Biden administration to become more bipartisan. But until the midterms, I suspect it's full steam ahead on partisanship.

Evidence/arguments that Joe Biden may not need Republicans to largely conquer the coronavirus pandemic in the United States

General articles on herd immunity in the USA

Covid-19 vaccine mandates and Muslim immigration. Always look at the bright side of things!

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