Image source: Screenshot from a Fox8 WGHP story Jan. 17 showing the smiling faces of kids enjoying snow in Guilford County.

This past week 96.6% of people in NC were estimated to pose no threat of passing along COVID-19 to anyone. That is the lowest estimate recorded so far by this index. Nevertheless, about 19 out of 20 (94.9%) adult North Carolinians are estimated to have either been at least partially vaccinated or acquired natural immunity against Covid-19 or both.

Here is the NC Threat-Free Index for the week ending January 18. All of the statistics generated for the NC Threat-Free Index are based on numbers provided by government sources. This link gives a detailed explanation of how each statistic is derived.

  • As of January 18, there were 1,748,088 North Carolinians presumed to be recovered from Covid-19.
  • Active cases comprised 17.0% of NC’s total case count. A case of Covid-19 isn’t a permanent infection. Only someone with an active case of the virus can conceivably transmit it to you. The total case count given banner headlines comprises active cases, the very large proportion of people who have recovered, and the very small proportion of people who have died with Covid-19.
  • Active cases represented 3.4% of NC’s population. Active cases are lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 minus recoveries and deaths.
  • Also, about five out of every six (82.1%) of NC’s total cases were recovered. People who have recovered from Covid-19 are no longer infectious. More importantly, a large and growing body of empirical research (“science and data”) shows that they have acquired persistentlong-lasting, and robust natural immunity to Covid-19 — immunity that is stronger against Covid-19 and its variants than even that enjoyed by those who are fully vaccinated.
  • Only 0.19% of people in NC had died with Covid-19. This statistic must be phrased in that manner (“with,” not “from”) because of the lack of clarity over the actual cause of death and because of the research finding as well as DHHS and the CDC admitting that a significant proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths were “not related to Covid-19.” A recent investigative report found that 1 in 3 Covid patients at UNC Health and a whopping 60% of Covid patients at WakeMed had gone to the hospital for non-Covid reasons.
  • All things considered, 96.6% of people in NC posed no threat of passing along Covid-19 to anyone. This estimate will fluctuate based on relative growth in lab-confirmed cases vs. recoveries.

Herd immunity, post-vaccination infections, and reinfections

For the week ending January 18:

  • Now about 19 out of 20 (94.9%adult North Carolinians are estimated to have some immunity to Covid-19, whether it’s vaccine-induced immunity (this group alone is at 74%) or the stronger and more durable natural immunity (there are as of this date 146 research studies attesting to the strength of natural immunity) or both. Adults are the ones most at risk of losing their jobs, access to government services, ability to travel, ability to buy groceries, etc., for not being vaccinated even though the ostensible public interest is in immunity. 
  • Conversely, as of January 18, only about one in 20 (5.1%) adult North Carolinians were estimated to have neither vaccine-induced nor natural immunity. 
  • Looking at the total population, about 11 out of every 12 (91.5%) North Carolinians are estimated to have some immunity. These estimates are based on DHHS case numbers, CDC estimates of actual infections, DHHS estimates of current vaccinations, and the formula outlined here.
  • The most recent update from DHHS found 184,707 post-vaccination infections. DHHS did not update its count of fully vaccinated individuals (showing 5,838,242), which would put the estimated post-vaccination infection rate for the week ending January 3 at nearly 3.2% (an update to the number of the fully vaccinated would probably make that estimate a little smaller). Given how strictly DHHS defines a “post-vaccination infection” — as of now, someone must be at least two weeks past receiving the second of two injections; anyone with only one injection or within two weeks of receiving the second “counts” as an unvaccinated case of Covid — the actual post-vaccination infection rate could be much higher than the estimated rate.
  • Also as of the week ending January 3, 40% of Covid-19 cases in North Carolina were to people considered fully vaccinated. That is a very high proportion for something described by Pres. Joe Biden on January 4 as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
  • As of the week ending January 3, there had been 27,299 reinfections for those with prior lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19, and the estimated reinfection rate was 1.7%. For reasons discussed here, the actual reinfection rate is likely much lower than the estimated rate.