On March 10, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, decided to abolish the requirement of masks and removed capacity restrictions for all businesses in the state. It was a highly controversial decision that sparked intense state, national and international debate. At that moment, new cases and hospitalizations were falling rapidly, but vaccinations had slowed due to heavy snowfall in mid-February.
What were we going to find? It was not very clear why, despite warnings from the same state health authority, Texas was entering relatively new territory. A territory that will allow us to measure, live and direct, when it is too early to open society and the economy; or what is the same, what levels of vaccination give rise to prepare for a return to normality.
An epidemiological disaster or a decision with sense?
Until now, the canonical example of a thaw has been Israel, but the differences with Texas are obvious. The country was close to 50% of its entire population completely vaccinated when the chart of new cases plummeted. Texas to this day has only fully vaccinated just over three million people, 11% of its population. Twice as many Texans have received at least one dose.
It is clear that the data from Texas are much better than those of European countries, but it must be taken into account that specialists estimate that it takes between 75% and 90% of the immunized population for group immunity to begin to have effects on the epidemiological evolution of a specific place. And, at least in this, Texas appears to be far from achieving those goals.
In this sense, the American state It will allow us to observe the consequences of removing restrictions with high levels of vaccination, but relatively low. And I say that it will allow us because only in the next few days will the effect of removing the confinement and the mandatory masks begin to be noticed in the health records. This two-week margin (as seen in the top Israeli chart) is to be expected and is about to end.
From this moment on, it only remains to wait to see what happens in the state of the lone star. Analyze the results and examine in detail the behavior of Texans to see how many of the problems that the opening of the state has caused are solved on a practical level, will be key to designing de-escalation in much of the world. We’ll be alert.
Image | Enrique Macias