The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing in favor of a “herd immunity” strategy that most experts say will result in millions of unnecessary deaths, The New York Times reports.
Most experts believe that the vast majority of the world population would have to be infected with the coronavirus in order to achieve “herd immunity.”
On a White House call Monday, two senior officials cited an October 4 petition called “The Great Barrington Declaration,” which argues against coronavirus lockdowns.
“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration says, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”
The declaration has more than 9,000 signatories, though dozens of the names have been reported as fake.
One of its lead authors is Jay Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist at Stanford University, where Trump adviser Scott Atlas, who has pushed the herd immunity strategy, also works.
The declaration is based on a theory that it is possible to achieve herd immunity after only 10 to 20% of the population is infected, which most scientists dispute.
“The idea that herd immunity will happen at 10 or 20 percent is just nonsense,” Dr. Christopher Murray, the head of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told the Times.
WHO says herd immunity “unethical”:
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, warned against any strategy that relies on achieving “herd immunity.”
"Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it," he said Monday, adding that "herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached."
"Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic,” he added.