'Stunningly' high level of coronavirus immunity found in parts of New York City

Researchers say nearly 70% of people in Queens neighborhood are immune to coronavirus, fueling hope city may be close to herd immunity.

David Rosenberg ,

Treating the coronavirus
Treating the coronavirus
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Parts of New York City have exhibited high levels of immunity to the coronavirus, according to a new study.

Researchers at CityMD have revealed to The New York Times that testing in one neighborhood in the borough of Queens found that 68% of people who took antibody tests for the coronavirus tested positive.

In addition, a testing station at Jackson Heights in Queens found 56% of those tested had coronavirus antibodies.

CityMD administered 314,000 tests in the city, as of June 26th.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, said the results were “a stunning finding”.

In May, at the height of the pandemic, New York State estimated that New York City’s immunity rate was around 20%. In a separate study, it was estimated that 34% of the population of the Bronx had coronavirus antibodies.

But Rasmussen said the findings do not necessarily mean Queens is approaching functional herd immunity – the point where a critical mass of people within a population have developed immunity, thus effectively preventing a virus from spreading.

The “magical number for herd immunity assumes that everyone infected has complete protection from a second infection,” Rasmussen told the Times. “But what about people with partial protection?”

“They may not get sick, but they can get infected and pass it along.”

Citywide, CityMD’s findings from the latest wave of testing shows 26% of the city has coronavirus antibodies.

Low-income and minority-majority neighborhoods – which suffered disproportionately during the first wave of the pandemic – have shown the highest level of immunity, while wealthier neighborhoods showed below-average levels of immunity. In Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill, for instance, only 13% of those tested had coronavirus antibodies.




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