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What you need to know: Public health experts at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) estimates that the state of South Carolina has reached about 60% immunity to the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 632 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 392 probable cases on Thursday, with 8 additional confirmed deaths.

With 22,238 tests reported Thursday, 4.5% were positive.

Source: Department of Health and Environmental ControlInstitute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Confirmed cases in S.C.: 470,153 (+632)
Total positive cases in Charleston County: 41,310 (+176)
Total positive cases in Berkeley County: 16,519 (+69)
Total positive cases in Dorchester County: 16,675 (+99)
Deaths in S.C. from COVID-19: 8,144 (+8)

COVID-19 news today

Public health experts at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) estimates that the state of South Carolina has reached about 60 percent immunity to the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.

Meanwhile, state health officials at the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 632 new cases of the coronavirus and 8 confirmed deaths Friday. With 22,238 tests reported, 4.5% were positive.

Leader of the MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project Michael Sweat said he was shocked by the immunity estimate, but that the numbers were hard to argue.

His team released the estimates for the state as a whole, as well as individual counties online at web.musc.edu, and the site is updated as more information comes in.

Charleston County is estimated to have about 59% immunity, but that number can range as low as 44%, or as high as 79%. Averaged with Berkeley and Dorchester counties, the Tri-County area has an estimated 52% immunity.

Pickens, McCormick and Greenville counties have the highest estimated immunity, each over 70%.

Access to vaccines as well as vaccination rates are parts of the formula that help Sweat’s team estimate an area’s immunity.

“We take into account whether you’ve had one vaccination or two,” he said in an MUSC report Thursday. “You just get partial credit for immunity if you’ve only had one dose. Once you’ve had two, we give you full credit.”

Infections are another key factor. For every known case of COVID-19, there may be at least five others who never showed symptoms and weren’t tested, Sweat said. And the length of time people keep their immunity to the virus is an evolving area that comes into play with the team’s estimation.

Sweat’s team considers people who have had COVID-19 to be immunity for anywhere from three to five months, based on research published by the journal Science.

However, Sweat cautions people not to let the good news obscure the fact that about 40% of South Carolinians may still be vulnerable to the coronavirus because they haven’t been vaccinated or infected, such as children.

“There’s still a lot of virus around. I mean, it doesn’t take much for this to blow up,” Sweat said. “This virus seems to be whack-a-mole ever since the beginning. Michigan, in particular, is having this massive outbreak. It could happen again here, too.”