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About 15% of El Pasoans are believed to be immune to Covid-19

EL PASO, Texas -- How much of El Paso County is immune to Covid-19 right now? A rough estimate suggests 15 percent of residents have reached some what of immunity.

Out of the 840,000 residents in the county, more than 114,000 have been infected, 13 percent of the overall population. More than 21,000 residents have also gotten both doses of the vaccine, more than two percent. However, there are still many unknowns. There could be a much number of residents who've had the virus.

Dr. Armando Meza, chief of infectious diseases at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, said that's one way to calculate immunity. Another is to check for antibodies on the entire population, however that's "probably not going to happen because of logistics."

According to City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the health department conducted a two-part survey back in December to check for antibodies and see how many people may have had the virus that perhaps didn't know it.

"At that moment in December, we have close to 90,000 positive by PCR," Ocaranza said. "But based on the information that we get from the survey, it was estimated that probably 155,000 have been infected."

Experts suggest that in order to reach herd immunity, 70 percent of the population should be vaccinated.

Meza said if the goal is to decrease severe infection and hospitalization rates, 50 percent immunity by vaccinating the population with a vaccine that's 95 percent effective could so do.

The estimated immunity could be playing a role in why new Covid-19 cases have remained stagnant in El Paso.

“Back in the worst day, in the worst months of the of the pandemic, you could see the doubling of the number of cases every four days. So that was when the large percent of the population at risk, was becoming infected,” Meza said.

Ocaranza is recognizing the "plateau" in cases but is still advising the community to be cautious.

"People can get exposed (and) can get infected,” Ocaranza said.

Meza stressed that people who've had the virus shouldn't rely on the antibodies. While it does bring some sort of level of protection, the best way to reach stronger immunity is by getting the vaccine

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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