WH COVID Adviser Advocating Controversial ‘Herd Immunity’ Approach

Member of the coronavirus task force Scott Atlas listens to President Donald Trump during a briefing at the White House on August 10, 2020. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
|
August 31, 2020 8:54 a.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Scott Atlas, a new member of the White House’s COVID-19 task force, is reportedly pushing President Donald Trump to combat the coronavirus with the “herd immunity” strategy, which requires allowing mass infections to bloom throughout the country uninhibited.

The idea behind the herd immunity approach is to build immunities to a disease by allowing it to spread. The elderly and other high-risk groups would be kept away from the population in the meantime.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Atlas, who joined the team this month and reportedly refers to himself as the “anti-Dr. Fauci,” has advocated this strategy, which would fulfill Trump’s desperate push to lift social distancing guidelines to potentially save the economy and therefore bolster his chances of reelection in November.

Officials told the Post that Atlas has cherry-picked data to back up his arguments for herd immunity. The Post also noted that Atlas, a neuroradiologist, does not have a background in epidemiology.

Atlas has reportedly argued with Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s other key task force members, over his push to reopen the country and their differing approaches to handling COVID-19.

Medical experts have pushed back against the idea of using herd immunity approach to combat COVID-19, which has shown to endanger young and/or healthy people in the U.S. Additionally, a study by the British government in mid-March found that the strategy would lead to the deaths of 1.1 to 1.2 million Americans.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30