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.