Dr. Anthony Fauci said the controversial approach of letting the coronavirus spread to achieve so-called herd immunity is an “unacceptable way” that will kill people.
Comments by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) were followed by a report in The Daily Beast claiming that the Trump administration bases its policies on this idea. The White House has rejected this claim.
Top immunologist Fauci was asked to comment on the open letter of the Great Barrington Declaration during a recent Q&A session with the editor of JAMA.
Traditionally, the term herd immunity describes the use of vaccines to protect a sufficiently large proportion of the population from an infectious disease so that it cannot spread.
With the COVID 19 pandemic, however, the term has taken on a new meaning. The scientists who wrote the Great Barrington Declaration suggest that this can be achieved by stopping the lockdown and allowing the virus to spread while protecting those most at risk.
In a video of the exchange, released on Wednesday, Fauci said: “Do you know how many deaths there will be before you get there? This is an unacceptable way. We achieve herd immunity through a vaccine, so you can violate immunity. Not by infecting everyone,” said Fauci.
Avoiding compartmentalization and protecting the weak is like motherhood and apple pie, Fauci said. However, it is estimated that between 70 and 75 percent of a population must get the coronavirus to achieve herd immunity, he added.
Fauci also pointed out the difficulty of protecting people at risk. He said conservative estimates suggest that more than 30 percent of the U.S. population is at risk for COVID-19 complications because they have underlying conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension or chronic kidney disease, or because they are older.
According to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately four out of ten adults (37.6 percent) of those over the age of 18 have a higher risk of developing serious illness due to COVID-19, which is equivalent to 92.6 million people.
The director of NIAID said it might be possible to shield people in nursing homes, but he asked, “How do you intend to protect people in society?” Fauci said, “For God’s sake, look at the data.
His concerns are in line with those of Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Health Program, who said on Monday that protecting the vulnerable has been the WHO’s primary goal since the beginning of the pandemic, but that it is difficult because “the vast majority of the vulnerable among us live in multi-generational households.
Earlier this month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus similarly warned against allowing the virus to circulate uncontrolled, partly because it is known that previously fit and healthy people had been suffering from “long COVID”.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, who co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, told Tekk.tv: “Dr. Fauci is completely wrong, and his comment reflects a failure to think creatively about how to protect the vulnerable population from the virus.
Bhattacharya said that the closures “have clearly failed to protect vulnerable people in the U.S. from COVID, as many unnecessary deaths in nursing homes and older ‘vital’ workers are forced to choose between feeding their families and the risk of exposure to the virus.
He said the closures have resulted in people dying of conditions unrelated to COVID-19, and he said their implementation “will lead to more death and human misery in the short and medium term than a targeted protection strategy.
Strategy of the White House
Fauci’s remarks were followed by a report in the “Daily Beast” quoting three unnamed senior health officials who worked with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and claimed that President Donald Trump and his advisors had accepted the notion of herd immunity and were using it as a basis for their policies.
The Web site reported that Trump administration officials in a recent appeal to reporters quoted the Great Barrington Declaration and said that “protecting the weak” was their focus because “most people do exceptionally well.
Fauci recently claimed that the president had not been in contact with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Fauci