Since Saturday, the president has repeatedly criticized “unscientific conclusions” – falsely portraying public health experts as backing strict restrictions – and argued the restrictions associated with American society’s coronavirus, repeating his monthly mantra, “Treatment can̵
And from his own fight against the virus, Trump has made claims about his own alleged “immune” standard speech rate in the campaign. “I’m immune and I can’t give it to you,” he boasted on Wednesday, “although scientists don’t fully understand how strong the immunity can be or how long it can last.
“Remember, when you catch it, you’re fine and you’re immune,” he told Fox News last week, despite a lack of convincing research and the fact that hundreds of thousands have died after falling ill.
While he largely avoids using the term “herd immunity” to describe the policies he supported, the president’s views reflect the views of a small number of scientists with a powerful White House ally, Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no experience in infectious diseases, which has replaced Fauci and other senior federal public health officials as one of Trump’s top medical advisers.
Scientists say the United States should strive to achieve “herd immunity” against COVID-19 by allowing the virus to spread naturally throughout the population, while maintaining only protected “vulnerable” groups – such as the elderly. Eventually, they say, enough people will get sick and recover – and potentially become immune to reinfection, at least for a while – that the rate of spread will decrease.
But a broad consensus among popular public health experts strongly rejects this idea, arguing that it would lead to many millions of deaths and take countless casualties of the American population, abounding in basic medical conditions, such as obesity, which makes them more prone to severe symptoms and die.
However, these best experts agree that extreme measures of social exclusion can have adverse consequences for society – physically, mentally and financially – and should be avoided where possible. They say they are also against full “locking”, but that measures such as wearing masks and limiting the amount of fees can reduce the rate of infection.
“The idea that we have the power to protect the vulnerable is complete nonsense, because history shows that this is not the case,” Fautsi said in an interview with ABC News chief George Stefanopoulos in Good Morning America on Thursday. “And if you talk to someone who has experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases, they will tell you that it is risky and you will end up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths.
“So I think we just have to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense,” Fauci said.
However, the Trump administration does not treat it as nonsense.
In addition to calling for an end to coronavirus-related restrictions and urging the country to “fully open up,” Trump has repeatedly stressed – often with misleading statistics – that the virus only affects the elderly or those with pre-existing illnesses. Its focus is on those groups that adhere to “herd immunity” supporters who minimize the risk to others.
In fact, thousands of younger Americans have died – and millions have fallen ill.
On Monday, the White House convened a conference call for reporters in part to draw attention to the Barrington Grand Declaration, an online petition arguing in favor of achieving the herd’s natural immunity while using “targeted protection” to protect the most vulnerable. The authors of the open letter boasted thousands of signatories, but Sky News found that they included “homeopaths, therapists and fake names” such as “Dr. Johnny Bananas” and “Dr. Person Fakename.”
The American Society of Infectious Diseases on Wednesday called the petition’s ideas “inappropriate, irresponsible and uninformed.” In an open letter published Thursday in the leading medical journal The Lancet, an international group of leading medical professionals approved a counter-petition called the John Snow Memorandum, which strongly opposes the natural pursuit of “herd immunity”.
“Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality for the entire population,” the authors wrote in a memorandum supported by well-known epidemiologists. “In addition to human costs, this would affect the workforce as a whole and exceed the ability of health systems to provide acute and routine care.”
No government epidemiologist or infectious disease expert has been called to the White House, and when pressed, a senior administration official said the White House did not actually “approve” the petition.
“We do not approve the plan,” the official, who asked for anonymity, told reporters. “The plan has been supporting the president’s policy for months.”
Fauci told ABC News on Thursday that the Barrington Grand Declaration falsely portrayed prominent public health experts as supporting “blockades.”
“There are a few things in this declaration that I think are misleading people, because it says things like apple pie and motherhood,” he said. “Ah, we don’t want to close the country. I say that all the time. B, we certainly want to protect the vulnerable.”
In a statement from the White House, Atlas said: “We strongly deny that the White House, the president, the administration or anyone advising the president has pursued or advocated any strategy to achieve herd immunity by allowing coronavirus infection to spread throughout the community. “He said the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration” emphasize focused protection of the vulnerable and safe cessation of school and community shutdowns. “
“These specific policies are in line with the president, who has repeatedly stated and follows a strategy focused on saving lives by aggressively protecting the vulnerable, preventing hospital overcrowding and safely opening schools and society,” Atlas said.
But John Braunstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the Barrington Grand Declaration actually supported the idea of spreading the virus to the community – as long as the vulnerable were protected. “It’s the same thing,” said Braunstein, a contributor to ABC News. “I don’t see the distinction.”
Braunstein said the concept of “focused protection” was “theoretically exciting to think about” but “not achievable in our population” because of the high level of basic medical conditions among the population – as well as the interconnectedness of society.
“We know that every single person is a bridge to the high-risk person,” he said. “It’s just not practical to think that you could separate high-risk people apart from the population.”
The president has been pushing for months to end coronavirus restrictions – including those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal health officials – disregarding precautions such as wearing masks and ignoring state and local regulations banning large gatherings.
A close ally, Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, has also embraced researchers who push the ideas behind natural “herd immunity.”
In late September, DeSantis, a Republican, hosted a roundtable with two of those who would later meet with Hazard, Jay Batacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Culdorf of Harvard Medical School.
The next day, DeSantis, a Republican, lifted all restrictions on the state’s coronavirus.