Herd Immunity

Angie Szumlinski
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October 21, 2020
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White House Coronavirus Task Force member, Dr. Scott Atlas, responded to a report by the Washington Post claiming he is a proponent of a controversial herd immunity strategy to combat Covid-19. The strategy would allow the virus to spread through the US population in order to develop a resistance to it.  

“That was never a strategy that was advocated by me and the administration. The president does not have a strategy like that. I’ve never advocated that strategy. That whole discussion in the Washington Post was just really, sort of irresponsible,” Atlas said, speaking at a press conference with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday. 

Some background: Herd immunity is reached when 70% to 90% of a population becomes immune to a disease either through infection and recovery or vaccination. When that happens, the disease is less likely to spread to people who aren’t immune because there just aren’t enough infectious carriers to reach them. The Washington Post article claimed Atlas was the chief proponent of the herd immunity strategy. 

Atlas has explicitly denied that he is pushing a herd immunity strategy, but an administration official said all of the policies Atlas has pushed for are in the vein of a herd immunity strategy. Atlas has rejected the need for widespread community testing, arguing that the administration should focus almost exclusively on protecting and testing elderly populations while pushing for the rest of the economy to return to normal, this official said. “Everything he says and does points toward herd immunity,” the senior administration official said.

CNN has reported that several of the health professionals on the White House Coronavirus Task Force raised questions about Atlas, asking each other who he was and what his role would be. Atlas joined the task force earlier this month as an adviser. 


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