President Donald Trump and his White House advisers are now fully-embracing the debunked concept of "herd immunity" as a means to approach the coronavirus pandemic. And while Trump, White House officials, and even Dr. Scott Atlas, the Fox News radiologist who brought the concept to the president, all deny herd immunity is their new policy, senior health officials working with the coronavirus task force say Trump and his advisors are all in.
Experts warn adopting a herd immunity approach could cause an additional half-million Americans to die.
But The Daily Beast Wednesday night reports the Trump administration has "begun taking steps to turn the concept" of herd immunity "into policy."
Herd immunity, or as Trump has called it, "herd mentality," is not a legitimate treatment for any disease, experts say. Rather, it is a calculation, an estimation of how many more people in a population would need to become infected in order for the whole community to be seen as "protected."
Generally, the means of reaching that goal are vaccines, not, "letting it rip," which is what one of the senior health officials who spoke with The Daily Beast say is Dr. Atlas's operating principle toward the deadly disease.
“This is all Atlas,” the official told The Daily Beast. “I find it disturbing … bordering on ludicrous. Everything that comes out of Atlas’ mouth is geared towards letting it rip and then just worry about protecting the vulnerable. Everything he says points to the fact that he believes herd immunity is a good option. Yet he denies he’s pushing herd immunity as a strategy saying ‘no that’s not what I’m doing.’ But he is.”
The Daily Beast's Erin Banco reports "those working on the government’s COVID response say that the attempts by the White House and Atlas to steer clear from using the phrase 'herd immunity' are merely a game of semantics. Privately, one of those sources said, the actual policy pursuits have been crafted around a plainly herd immunity approach; mainly, that the government should prioritize protecting the vulnerable while allowing 'everyone else to get infected,' that source said."
On a call with reporters a Trump White House official "said the coronavirus was 'dangerous for a certain subset of the population' and that 'most people do extraordinary well.'"
That is not just merely false, it is a deadly lie. Nearly 230,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and many of them were not considered part of a "vulnerable" group.
Many who contract the coronavirus but survive find months later they have long-lasting symptoms. Some suffer permanent heart damage, even those "who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms," according to the Mayo Clinic, which adds coronavirus "can damage many other organs as well. This organ damage may increase the risk of long-term health problems."
Some suffer "long-term breathing problems," the Mayo Clinic says. And even "in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis. COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease."
Adopting a policy of herd immunity, experts say, could cause an additional 500,000 deaths in the U.S.