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The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimated Thursday that 3 out of 4 Americans are now immune to the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

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The highly contagious variant was first identified in October in South Africa and quickly became the dominant version of the coronavirus in most countries.

According to researchers, the fact the variant spread so quickly has provided some protection to millions of people by arming their immune systems with the ability to recognize the virus and fight it off.

Seventy-three percent of Americans are believed to be immune from omicron because of vaccination and/or exposure to the virus, researchers at the University of Washington determined. That number could reach 80% by mid-March as omicron continues to circulate in the U.S.

The school looked at the number of Americans who have been vaccinated and received booster shots, the fact that 80 million people in the US have had a confirmed infection and an estimate of the number of infections that were never reported to come up with the estimate.

Researchers say that with 50% of Americans fully vaccinated and boosted, and three-fourths of Americans having some level of protection because of vaccination or having gotten the virus, “future spikes will likely require much less — if any — dramatic disruption to society.”

“I am optimistic even if we have a surge in summer, cases will go up, but hospitalizations and deaths will not,” IHME’s Ali Mokdad told the Associated Press.

Mokdad pointed out that even with a little more than 73% of Americans with immunity from omicron, that leaves 80 million at risk for a dangerous virus.

“The 26 percent who could still get omicron right now have to be very careful,” Mokdad added. “We’ve reached a much better position for the coming months, but with waning immunity we shouldn’t take it for granted.”