So are we seeing the results of network effects w.r.t. vaccinations & infections and dropping case counts?

So as you all know, the case counts in the US have been steadily dropping for a while now. Vaccinations have been being administered, but seems to have more or less stalled- in my area it’s about 40% vaccinated so far. Yet despite that, and our governor’s grim intent on getting rid of everything pandemic-related ASAP, our case counts have been dropping as well.

I read an article about a possible vaccination strategy that basically posits that the most effective strategy would be to vaccinate the most socially active people first, and then follow up with the vulnerable, etc… afterward, as the “social butterflies” are the most likely to transmit the virus, and if you vaccinate them, you’re putting a huge dent in its ability to spread.

So what I’m wondering is whether the steady and consistent decline in cases is a result of some critical mass of those social butterflies either having had COVID, or having been vaccinated for it? Our vaccination rate isn’t high enough to cause herd immunity, and mask wearing seems to be on the way out, but our case rates are falling nonetheless. Could this be why?

While I can see the wisdom of targeting social butterflies I’m not sure it’s practical. What is a social butterfly? How many of them are there? How do we identify them?

Not even remotely.

As discussed in the breaking news thread, the COVID case rate for the unvaccinated is declining slightly from what it has been. The case rate among the vaccinated has crashed to very low, with nil hospitalizations.

If there is a network effect it’s this: The unvaxxed are not uniformly distributed geographically. Instead they’re concentrated in pockets of know-nothingness. Not all of them, but many of them. So they’re far more likely to encounter fellow unvaxxed. And to spread it far and wide.

Meanwhile the vaxxed are also not distributed uniformly. They tend to cluster also, both geographically and socially. And in that network, almost nobody having it and almost nobody being susceptible means almost nobody catches it.

But there are a few unvaxxed who live among the vaxxed. And they get most of the benefit of that local herd being immune even if their whole state isn’t.

And some vaxxed live among the unvaxxed. Those folks act as part of the denominator (people), but not the numerator (sick people), that makes up their local case rate. So just as a matter of math, the case rate goes down.

Further, like the moderator in a nuclear reactor, each vaxxed person in a county of mostly unvaxxed acts to very slightly slow the rate of spread: evey chain of infection that would flow thorugh them and continue expanding is instead stopped in its tracks, sparing everyone downstream, vaxxed or unvaxxed. Which also slightly improves the statistics of the unvaxxed over what they were a year ago when everyone was unvaxxed.

Wouldn’t most of the social butterflies flock to vaccination anyway? Eager to get their lives back. Whereas the introverts who never left their house before Covid won’t be rushed as they’re going to stay in their Netflix and delivery lifestyles forever even if Covid is wiped out.

Yep. The article cited in the other thread shows that the middle 10 to 20 percent are getting vaccinated so that the mask mandates no longer apply to them. Give people an incentive and they will do it.

The people causing us not to get herd immunity are those still shuddering in their homes. Just like with the Black Death, the virus will find them eventually. Live your normal lives! Get vaccinated! The virus will run its course.

I do not think you are correct. Those people who are causing us to not reach herd immunity are those who never stayed home and didn’t mask. They are the ones spreading it around, those of us who stayed shuddering at home have been vaccinated and are helping to slightly lower the infection rate.

My husband, who is in week three of suffering with medically diagnosed COVID certainly did not stay home shuddering, he went out unmasked and spread the joy all over half of Arizona for two weeks before getting sick and a week after showing symptoms.

Oh, and just in case the Black Death was caused by rat fleas instead of human fleas and lice, we are adding a young cat to our home.

This doesn’t seem consistent with the observable reality in many states. For example, in my state, Mississippi, only about one-third of the population is vaccinated, but the average number of new cases per day has declined from around 2,400 during the January peak to just over 100. I don’t see how this is mathematically possible if cases are declining only slightly among unvaccinated people.

That’s what I’m thinking as well- we’d see a different pattern based on what the state’s vaccination rates are - the states with higher vaccination rates (e.g. New York) would see a much lower rate per 100k than states with correspondingly lesser vaccination rates, because there would be proportionately fewer people unvaccinated available to spread the disease.

But we don’t see that; in fact Texas has a LOWER rate than New York according to the Mayo Clinic. And NY has had, and still has more restrictive mask mandates than Texas.

So something else would seem to be going on; maybe it’s population density. Maybe it’s network effects. Maybe it’s something else. That’s what I’m curious about- what’s going on?

Speaking as a therapist, the people most afraid of COVID in my practice are vaccinated, and the Trump voters aren’t, and are flying all over the country, eating inside restaurants, and going to concerts and ball games.