Could George Floyd protesters cause a spike in coronavirus cases? Johns Hopkins doctor explains

As hundreds of thousands of people come together to protest the death of George Floyd and states begin their subsequent reopening phases, many have forgotten how deadly a threat the coronavirus is.

But are people really putting themselves at risk or are they doing something beneficial for the country, causing herd immunity? Fox News spoke with Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar for Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who says mass gatherings won’t help herd immunity anytime soon.

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“It's very hard to achieve herd immunity levels. It's estimated that we need to probably have about 60 percent of the population infected to cross that immunity threshold [for the coronavirus],” Adalja told Fox News. “And that is going to come at a cost. And that cost will be many deaths.”

Herd Immunity is when so many people get infected with a disease that they develop antibodies to protect the population against it. This is achieved in one of two ways, Adalja said: by natural infection or vaccines. With the absence of a vaccine, Adalja said every human interaction you have puts you at risk – meaning that the thousands of people protesting are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

“It's a simple biological fact. This virus will thrive in environments where people are in contact with each other.”

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“The question always is going to be keeping the number of cases in their place to a level that's manageable by hospitals and health department contact tracing teams," Adalja added.

What the protests are doing is something that Adalja believes we should have done at the very beginning of the virus outbreak -- leaving it up to each person to decide how big – or small – of a risk they are willing to take.

“Until there's a vaccine... it's really going to fall to individuals to try and reduce the harm that this virus can cause,” Adalja said. “And that's going to be something that's different for each individual based on their personal risk tolerance.”