New Mexico physicist believes state has technically reached herd immunity

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A New Mexico physicist believes the state has already hit herd immunity.

Dr. Jacob Kuriyan wrote an opinion piece in the Albuquerque Journal that said he believes New Mexico hit herd immunity in March.

"Herd immunity is a point that is defined in the development of a pandemic or epidemic which says that at some point the number of people infected is less than the number of people that are recovering," he said.

Kuriyan has a background in theoretical physics and heads two healthcare software companies in the metro area.

Using the SIR Model, which is used to track epidemics, herd immunity can be observed when 25% of the population has been vaccinated or recovered from the disease.

Currently, 35% of New Mexican are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

"This is beginning, what I call, a beginning of a journey, not the destination, so it is absolutely required, but that doesn’t guarantee that the pandemic will end, it just says it the beginning of the end," Kuriyan said.

Kuriyan warns that people should still heed the warnings of health officials like social distancing and wearing a mask to continue the downward trajectory.

In response to Kuriyan’s assertion that the state has reached herd immunity, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Health released the following statement:

"The author appears to be using the term ‘herd immunity’ differently than DOH and national medical experts are.

While it’s true that vaccines have reduced case counts and deaths, we’re not just interested in ‘when the epidemic size decreases."

The statement points to a New York Times article that says "heath experts say somewhere between 70 to 90 percent of people in a society need to be vaccinated to arrive at herd immunity, a situation in which most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, providing indirect protection to those who are not immune.”