Dozens of alarmed Stanford medical experts wrote an open letter rebuking the herd immunity quackery put forth by their colleague Scott W. Atlas, a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and advisor to Donald Trump. Atlas and his baseless theories are having a huge influence over the administration’s attitude shift towards hoping that herd immunity (or as Trump likes to call it ‘herd mentality’) is our best bet of beating COVID-19. Atlas has fired back at his colleagues, saying he’ll slap a lawsuit against them for defaming him.
Interestingly enough, Stanford Medicine has since taken down the letter from their website. A sign that the university is at war with itself over how to handle the shameful fact that one of their Senior Fellows is peddling a flimsy and dangerous solution to combatting COVID-19. They certainly don’t want stand by his witchcraft-like approach to science, but at the same time, they don’t want to come out and say, “One of our Senior Fellows has bats in the belfry.”
The concerns about herd immunity stem from the fact that we don’t yet know if it will work. Even if it does work, assuming 65% of Americans getting COVID-19 is all we need to achieve herd immunity and that the 2.7% death rate stays the same, that’s still resulting in approximately 6M dead Americans. And if things go really well and the death rate plummets down to 1%, then it’s more in the ballpark of 2M dead Americans.
Despite the strong consensus among scientists that wearing masks and social distancing is the key to beating this virus, the Trump administration is instead blindly crossing their fingers that herd immunity takes us to the promised land. A promised land that will result in millions of dead Americans, no matter how optimistically we crunch the numbers.