Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said he disagreed with a proposed White House tactic to push for herd immunity as a response to the coronavirus. "We're not there yet," Fauci told MSNBC. "That's not a fundamental strategy that we're using." "The fundamental strategy that we clearly articulate and go by through the [White House coronavirus] task force is to try to prevent as many infections as you possibly can prevent," he added. His remarks come after The Washington Post reported Dr. Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump's new health adviser, had begun urging Trump's administration to embrace herd immunity as a way to stop the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the US. Atlas is a physician and does not have expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, the Post reported. the herd immunity strategy would allow a majority of residents to become infected with the coronavirus so that there could be widespread resistance to COVID-19. The most likely way to reach herd immunity is through mass vaccination, but experts have said that without a vaccine, the herd immunity approach would mean far more deaths and illness than what the US has already gone through.
Herd immunity for the coronavirus would need to be somewhere between 50 to 70% of the US population having resistance to the virus, which means about 165 million to 230 million people would need to be infected and develop immunity. With the death rate of about 1%, McFall-Johnsen reported it means 2.3 million people could die under a herd immunity approach. Experts including Fauci have said this process would cause unnecessary deaths. "This is simply wrong," Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said on Twitter on Monday in response to the Post report. "Herd immunity is not a strategy or a solution. It is surrender to a preventable virus."