Trump Admin Admits Embrace Of Disputed Herd Immunity Strategy

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  john-russell  •  2 weeks ago  •  17 comments

Trump Admin Admits Embrace Of Disputed Herd Immunity Strategy
Critics of Focused Protection say the idea is impractical, unethical and potentially deadly. There is no way, they say, to segregate society neatly by levels of vulnerability. Many vulnerable people live in multigenerational households. And although it is true that younger people are unlikely to die of covid-19, they can still become sick, potentially with chronic lung damage or other long-duration symptoms known as "long covid." Allowing the virus to spread more rapidly among younger and...

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Maverick scientists who call for allowing the coronavirus to spread freely at "natural" rates among healthy young people while keeping most aspects of the economy up and running have found an audience inside the White House and at least one state capitol.


The scientists met last week with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who has emerged as an influential adviser to President Trump on the pandemic.

When asked for comment, HHS referred a reporter to Azar's subsequent Twitter statement about the meeting: "We heard strong reinforcement of the Trump Administration's strategy of aggressively protecting the vulnerable while opening schools and the workplace."

A senior administration official told reporters in a background briefing call Monday that the proposed strategy — which has been denounced by other infectious-disease experts and has been called "fringe" and "dangerous" by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins — supports what has been Trump's policy for months.

"We're not endorsing a plan. The plan is endorsing what the president's policy has been for months. The president's policy — protect the vulnerable, prevent hospital overcrowding, and open schools and businesses — and he's been very clear on that," the official said.

"Everybody knows that 200,000 people died. That's extremely serious and tragic. But on the other hand, I don't think society has to be paralyzed, and we know the harms of confining people to their homes," the official added.

Trump has long chafed at the economic damage from shutdowns imposed to control the pandemic, and has repeatedly pushed states to reopen, at one point threatening to withhold federal funding from states that did not open schools. After he contracted the virus and developed symptoms of covid-19 serious enough to require hospitalization, Trump still urged the public, "Don't be afraid of Covid."

In pushing his agenda, Trump has steadily drifted away from the counsel of his own government's top doctors, such as White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Into that void has stepped Atlas, who has relied on the maverick scientists to bolster his in-house arguments. At a recent White House news briefing, he cited them by name.

The three scientists pushing the strategy, which they call Focused Protection, have distinguished academic appointments. Martin Kulldorff is an epidemiologist at Harvard University. Sunetra Gupta is an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford. Jay Bhattacharya is a physician and epidemiologist at Stanford Medical School.

They have codified their argument in the form of a document posted online that called itself the Great Barrington Declaration, named after the town in Massachusetts where it was unveiled on Oct. 4 in a ceremony at a libertarian think tank.

The authors argue that their approach would decrease the undesirable public health effects of restrictions and closures, which disproportionately affect lower-income people. The declaration does not mention wearing masks, engaging in social distancing, avoiding crowds and indoor environments, or any of the other recommendations pushed by most government and scientific experts.

The authors contend that permitting the virus to spread naturally among young people — who are much less likely than their elders to have a severe outcome — will shorten the pandemic by hastening the arrival of herd immunity, the point at which there's enough immunity in the general population to prevent the virus from spreading at epidemic rates.

"The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk," the declaration states.

The online document claims that thousands of doctors and scientists have signed it, as well as hundreds of thousands of people in the general public. Britain's Sky News reported last week that some of the names are transparently fake, such as "Dr. Johnny Bananas" and "Dr. Person Fakename."

It is unclear to what extent the maverick plan has changed policies on the ground, given that Trump has not implemented a national strategy, deferring to the states, where governors, mayors and other local officials are making most of the tricky decisions about restrictions and lockdowns. But the Focused Protection idea already has found a purchase in Florida: Kulldorff, Gupta and Bhattacharya participated in late September in a virtual roundtable discussion with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

DeSantis has ordered the reopening of bars and other businesses, and has drawn national attention for his aggressive posture on school reopenings.

The Great Barrington Declaration is not a scientific document. As critics readily point out, it presents no data. It has no footnotes, few specific suggestions for how to implement the societal segregation and, unlike most scientific arguments, does not discuss potential objections to the proposal.

"What I worry about with this is it's being presented as if it's a major alternative view that's held by large numbers of experts in the scientific community. That is not true," Collins, the NIH director, said in an interview.

"This is a fringe component of epidemiology. This is not mainstream science. It's dangerous. It fits into the political views of certain parts of our confused political establishment," he said. "I'm sure it will be an idea that someone can wrap themselves in as a justification for skipping wearing masks or social distancing and just doing whatever they damn well please."

Critics of Focused Protection say the idea is impractical, unethical and potentially deadly. There is no way, they say, to segregate society neatly by levels of vulnerability. Many vulnerable people live in multigenerational households. And although it is true that younger people are unlikely to die of covid-19, they can still become sick, potentially with chronic lung damage or other long-duration symptoms known as "long covid."

Allowing the virus to spread more rapidly among younger and healthier populations will increase the threat to people who are already vulnerable, noted Natalie Dean, a University of Florida biostatistics expert.

"Is the solution then that we hide away the old people until society can safely resume for them? The solution is not very appealing to the elderly," she said.

Critics note that Sun Belt states, such as Florida, already have seen the consequences of young people flooding bars and socializing as though there were no pandemic: Hospitalizations and deaths spiked within weeks.

William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, raised the question of how younger people who are sick would be kept separate from older patients: "What do you do for the sort of younger populations who need health care themselves? Are you going to have separate hospitals for young people and older people?"

Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, posted a Twitter thread Monday excoriating the Focused Protection strategy as a recipe for "carnage," writing, "Walking with these pied pipers into the arms of [the virus] because you think you're not at risk or your elders are taken care of is not a plan. It's a massacre."

Kulldorff said he thinks the sharp age gradient in deaths from covid-19 is not sufficiently appreciated. He also thinks the corollary public health effects of shutdowns need greater attention — which is one argument many experts share.

Stefan Baral, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, chose not to sign the Great Barrington Declaration even though he agrees with many of the points it raises about the social costs of shutdowns. He didn't sign it, he said, because it did not address ways to minimize the health inequities the pandemic has exposed. He would like to see more investment in communities severely affected by shutdowns.

"I am particularly worried about a dynamic in which our first thought when we see increased transmission is to move toward a model of new restrictions," Baral said. "I would much rather support an approach where we understand vulnerabilities and we add resources, not restrictions."





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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

Has something changed where "herd immunity" will no longer kill millions of people? I havent heard that yet. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago
 
 
 
JBB
1.1.1  JBB  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    2 weeks ago

There is no way without millions more deaths!

 
 
 
MUVA
1.1.2  MUVA  replied to  JBB @1.1.1    2 weeks ago

There hasn't been millions of deaths what the hell are you going on about.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
1.1.3  Ozzwald  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    2 weeks ago
So....tell us the best way to achieve herd immunity.

Artificial herd immunity is caused by vaccines. (sorry anti-vaxers)

With no effective vaccines, herd immunity can only be reached with the sacrifice of millions of people.  (minimum of 2,500,000, possibly 6,500,00 just for the US)

Herd immunity should never be considered until there is a tested, confirmed, and readily available vaccine for the disease.

 
 
 
JBB
1.1.4  JBB  replied to  MUVA @1.1.2    2 weeks ago

There would be before we reached herd immunity without a vaccine...

 
 
 
MUVA
1.1.5  MUVA  replied to  JBB @1.1.4    2 weeks ago

That would be millions would die then not millions more that could be true but the other is not.

 
 
 
Tessylo
1.1.6  Tessylo  replied to  MUVA @1.1.5    2 weeks ago

No, JBB is correct.  

 
 
 
Ozzwald
1.1.7  Ozzwald  replied to  MUVA @1.1.5    2 weeks ago
That would be millions would die then not millions more that could be true but the other is not.

You're not making any sense.

Random number of 3 million dying in order to gain herd immunity.  Experts say between 2.5 and 6.5 million.

  • Millions would die = 3 million people dying.
  • Millions more = 2.8 million more would die.

So yes, under the English language, both are accurate.

 
 
 
MUVA
1.1.8  MUVA  replied to  Ozzwald @1.1.7    2 weeks ago

Millions haven’t died in this country so he worded his post wrong it should be millions will die not millions more insinuating that millions have already died in this country they haven’t.Words have meanings I know  it’s hard to understand for some.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
1.1.9  Ozzwald  replied to  MUVA @1.1.8    2 weeks ago
t should be millions will die not millions more insinuating that millions have already died

You need to read it again, or get a friend to read it for you. 

"Millions more" does not imply that millions have already died, it means that multiple millions more will, irrespective of how many already have.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
1.1.10  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Ozzwald @1.1.9    2 weeks ago
"Millions more" does not imply that millions have already died, it means that multiple millions more will, irrespective of how many already have.

You are correct, although if millions had been known to have already died "millions more" could mean either one of the two things you guys are arguing about.  Since millions have not died yet , your interpretation is the correct one. 

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
2  Just Jim NC TttH    2 weeks ago

There is no vaccine. There is no cure. We can do all we want to try and control this petulant child but it isn't going to just pack up and go elsewhere. Chances are, prior to the release of an effective vaccine/cure, the majority of us are going to contract this disease in one form or another.........yes, some will perish. The majority will not. All we can do is follow guidelines to the best of our abilities but masks, hand washing, social distancing, while reducing the risk, will not just make it disappear. Just as the cold and seasonal flu do not simply ride off into the solar system never to return, this thing is here to stay. It may be mitigated to an extent but with the consensus that there are still millions who, when asked/polled, say they will not take advantage of a vaccine when it comes available, there will still be some amount of infection and unfortunate carnage. 

Think about what they are telling you and why............

 
 
 
JBB
2.1  JBB  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @2    2 weeks ago

That is nonsense. Covid can be avoided by social distancing, wearing masks and washing of hands. Those are things smart people are willing to do...

 
 
 
Nerm_L
3  Nerm_L    2 weeks ago

The coronavirus is continuing to spread and kill people.  The coronavirus is infecting and killing people who follow guidelines, requirements, and mandates.  The virus doesn't care if people are wearing masks or social distancing.  

The guidelines of 6 feet separation, wearing a face covering, and wearing eye protection reduces risk of transmission by 80 pct but even that estimate is uncertain.  There have been studies on the effectiveness of everything except the guidelines so we don't have reliable information.  Following the guidelines will not reduce risk to zero; the virus will continue to spread, infect, and kill people who are following guidelines, requirements, and mandates.

The virus will continue to spread, infect, and kill people until herd immunity is achieved.  The purpose of the guidelines has been to slow spread of the virus until a vaccine can be developed and deployed.  Vaccination will achieve herd immunity that will stop the virus.  Herd immunity protects the population; herd immunity does not place the population at risk.

Politicizing vaccines and the idea of herd immunity is going to kill more people.  There isn't any doubt because the virus will continue to spread, infect, and kill people until herd immunity is achieved.  We not only need a vaccine, we need to encourage people to get vaccinated.  We need herd immunity.  The bumper sticker idiots trying to score political points are going to kill people. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Nerm_L @3    2 weeks ago
The virus doesn't care if people are wearing masks or social distancing.   The guidelines of 6 feet separation, wearing a face covering, and wearing eye protection reduces risk of transmission by 80 pct

these two sentences are contradictory. 

 
 
 
Nerm_L
3.1.1  Nerm_L  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    2 weeks ago
these two sentences are contradictory. 

How so?  

 
 
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