Fauci calls coronavirus herd immunity approach ‘nonsense, very dangerous’

White House Embraces 'Herd Immunity' Declaration That Encourages COVID-19 Infections

Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, on Thursday called a herd immunity proposal being embraced by the White House "total nonsense". Herd immunity occurs when the majority of a population becomes immune to a virus, which is achieved through vaccination.

Experts argue the best way to protect the vulnerable is by trying to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In a call with reporters featuring two senior officials, the White House said it supports an October 4 petition called The Great Barrington Declaration that argues authorities should allow the virus to spread freely among young, healthy Americans while protecting older and vulnerable people.

If the coronavirus penetrated the U.S. population uncontrollably to infect as many people as possible to achieve what is known as "herd immunity", it would cause many unnecessary deaths, and the idea is "nonsense" and "dangerous", the leading expert for infectious diseases in the country said Thursday.

"This [declaration] is risky because it puts the entire population, particularly the most vulnerable, at risk".

The letter comes after U.S. media reports said the White House had thrown its support behind an online declaration by a group of scientists who were advocating for herd immunity.

According to the scientists, vulnerable populations are at risk for the indefinite future, as natural infection-based herd immunity strategies would result in recurrent epidemics, as seen with many infectious diseases before mass vaccination.

A day before the town of Great Barrington took pains to distance itself from the declaration, a coalition of 17 public health organizations also condemned the scientists' proposal in a joint statement.

Its lead authors, the Times said, include Jay Bhattacharya, MD, an economist and medical professor at Stanford University, the academic home of Scott Atlas, MD, President Trump's science adviser.


"Letting the virus circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death".

Eighty researchers from fields including epidemiology, virology, health policy, sociology and mathematical modelling flatly rejected the strategy, which involves allowing the virus to spread among healthy people, while protecting those who are most vulnerable.

The researchers cautioned that there is now no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after natural infection. This lack of data builds upon another unknown: how often people can get reinfected by the disease, which has already been reported in a handful of cases.

"It would also place an unacceptable burden on the economy and healthcare workers, many of whom have died from Covid-19 or experienced trauma as a result of having to practise disaster medicine", they wrote.

"We can not afford distractions that undermine an effective response; it is essential that we act urgently based on the evidence", the group writes.

Fauci said he had made his position on herd immunity known to the White House, adding that Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agree.

"You'll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths".

A close ally, Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, has also embraced the researchers pushing the ideas behind natural "herd immunity".

While critics of public health measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus-including Dr. Scott Atlas, a top White House adviser on the pandemic who has no public health expertise-have pointed to Sweden's approach as one the US should emulate, the organizations note that the country has the highest mortality rate in Scandinavia after failing to implement an early and robust economic shutdown.

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