Infectious disease expert calls White House advisers herd immunity claims ‘pseudoscience’
Infectious-diseases expert Michael Osterholm blasted a report that Scott Atlas, a medical adviser to President Trump, is pushing the White House to attempt a “herd immunity” approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
“First of all, that 20 percent number is the most amazing combination of pixie dust and pseudoscience I’ve ever seen,” Osterholm said, in reference to the proportion of the population Atlas reportedly said would need to contract the virus to achieve herd immunity. “It’s 50 percent to 70 percent at minimum.”
“And remember when we talk about getting to 50 percent to 70 percent protection, we’re talking you can get there with disease — but if that happens, there will be lots of deaths, a lot of serious illnesses — or we can try to get there with vaccination, and postponing the number of people who get sick until we have the vaccines available,” Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“That 20 percent number is the most amazing combination of pixie dust and pseudo science I have ever seen … It is 50 to 70 percent.” pic.twitter.com/cKRa21IC5c
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) October 18, 2020
“50 percent to 70 percent just slows down transmission, it doesn’t stop it,” he added. “So this virus is going to keep looking for wood to burn for as long as it can … so, our goal is to get as many people protected with vaccines.”
Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’ top infectious diseases expert, has also been sharply critical of the idea.
“If you just let things rip and let the infection go, no masks, crowd, it doesn’t make any difference — that quite frankly, George, is ridiculous,” Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” last week.