According to three senior health officials in the White House Coronavirus Task Force, despite publicly underestimating it, President Donald Trump and his White House advisory team accepted the controversial belief that herd immunity will help Control the COVID-19 outbreak. What these officials worry more is that they have begun to take steps to turn this concept into policy.
Officials said that White House adviser Scott Atlas (Scott Atlas) first started to improve herd immunity last summer. Although scientists, doctors and infectious disease experts expressed strong opposition to this, they thought it was dangerous and would Cause more American people to become sick and dying. Since then, many White House advisers have tried to downplay the government’s idea that the government has implemented the COVID-1
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, told reporters in September that the “group immunity” advocated by the Trump administration was never a strategy. In a statement to The Daily Beast, Atlas insisted that this was not a pursuit.
“As we have clearly stated many times in our records and prints, we firmly deny that the White House, the President, the government or anyone who advises the President has adopted or advocated any strategy to achieve cattle immunity through coronavirus infection. The statement read. “This has never been told to the President, and has never been part of any of the President’s policies. “
However, those committed to the government’s COVID response say that the White House and Atlas’ attempts to avoid using the term “herd immunity” are merely a semantic game.Privately One of the sources said that the actual policy pursuit is based on an obvious group exemption method; the source said that the main point is that the government should give priority to protecting vulnerable groups while allowing “anyone else to be infected.”
In a call to reporters participating in “Daily Beast”, government officials paid new attention to the president’s coronavirus policy, which emphasized the importance of “protecting vulnerable groups,” which is the key to nursing home patients . An official said that the coronavirus is “dangerous for certain groups of people” and “most people are doing well.”
The official on the call pointed to a study by Great Barrington University, which was composed of a group of scientists who advocated attempts to achieve cattle immunity through uncontrolled COVID-19 transmission.
Although Atlas insisted that he did not promote the “herd exemption”, another official stated that Atlas actually began to advocate this concept, and the president also began to accept this concept. At the same time, work Team officials have also been asked about how the government plans to deal with many things that are expected to be tough autumn. Officials said that since then, the White House has focused on distributing vaccines to the American people and spread the fight against the community to a task force official: Dr. Deborah Birx.The White House task force coordinator, Birx, has been walking for several months, trying to persuade Americans to wear masks and social distancing. In her absence, and due to the reduction in the number of meetings of the working group, Atlas became the confidant of the president.
An official who spoke to “Daily Beast” said: “This is the entire atlas.” “I found it disturbing…the approach is ridiculous. Everything that comes from Atlas’ mouth is designed to tear it apart, Then he only worried about protecting vulnerable groups. Everything he said showed that he believed that herd immunization was a good choice. However, he denied that he used herd immunization as a strategy and said “No, that’s not what I am doing.” But he is.”
The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health stated that herd immunity is a scientific term that contains the following thought: “When the majority of the population is immune to infectious diseases, this provides protection for indirect immunity… Sick people”. Although herd immunization is used to control the spread of other diseases, the school’s analysis pointed out that “the situation with SARS-CoV-2 is very different: COVID-19 has a higher risk of serious illness or even death.”
Health officials say the president’s actual acceptance of cattle immunization could lead to a new stage of the pandemic that is dangerous and possibly fatal, even when screening and protecting the elderly and those with comorbidities are carried out at the same time. Scientists warn that if the government continues to focus on protecting individuals in nursing homes, for example, it will ignore those who belong to the most vulnerable but can still be infected, survive and persist. Health complications.
“This is a very dangerous idea. This is a potentially fatal mistake.” said Tom Frieden, former director of the Obama Administration’s Center for Disease Control. “They know the word [herd immunity] Toxic, but this is exactly what they suggest. I mean, Scott Atlas said, this is a positive thing. This is not a positive thing. Every infection is a step back. “
Frieden said that from a public health perspective, it doesn’t make sense to focus solely on protecting vulnerable groups.
“What we keep seeing all over the country is that what you see is a group of cases, and then you go to the elderly one week, two weeks, and three weeks later. Then you see an increase in cases, and then hospitalization and increase. Avoid more deaths,” he said.
Officials said that among health officials engaged in COVID response work, Atlas is basically one person because he believes that it may be a net positive attitude to let people get the disease. Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no background in dealing with infectious disease outbreaks, but has become Trump’s coronavirus expert. He told CNN in August: “We can allow many people to be infected-those who are not at risk of death or who are not seriously hospitalized need to get sick.”
“We should let them get infected and develop immunity by themselves. The better the immunity in the community, the better we can eradicate the threat of the virus, including the threat to vulnerable people. This is herd immunity,” he said.
For Trump, Atlas’ advocacy of this approach represents an opportunity. The President has long advocated less restrictive public health measures to combat COVID, because the country needs to prioritize economic interests.Herd immunity theory “He was basically allowed to reopen the country, even if we did not flatten the curve. “An official said.
“There is a wrong narrative It has been developed, either shut down, or let everyone do what they want and let them be affected. “An official said. “You can still keep your business open. If you wear a mask and avoid crowds and social distance, you can still slowly recover your economy. “
Atlas’ interview in August caused an uproar among the officials responsible for responding to the coronavirus outbreak. The Washington Post first reported in August that Atlas urged the White House to develop a concept for herd immunity. The next day, Atlas appeared on CNN again, this time he stated that he did not advocate the use of the concept.
Atlas said: “From me to the president, anyone in the executive branch, working group, anyone I have spoken to has never promoted herd immunity.” The president did not promote a strategy for herd immunity. The task force did not promote a strategy for herd immunity. “