Dr. William Haseltine, who is best known for his groundbreaking work on HIV/AIDS and the human genome, issued a strict warning Wednesday that using herd immunity to defeat coronavirus could result in millions of American deaths.
"Herd immunity is another word for mass murder," the former Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health said on CNN's' "New Day." "I'm extremely concerned that the president is being advised by people who speak of herd immunity."
If the virus is allowed to grow, unchecked, in hopes of wearing itself out, "we are looking at two to six million Americans dead, not just this year, but every year," Haseltine added. "The reason for that is that there is no such thing as herd immunity."
Scientists calling to allow the virus to spread freely among young people while keeping the economy running met last week with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Dr. Scott Atlas, who has become one of President Donald Trump's key advisers on the coronavirus, reports the Washington Post.
A senior administration told reporters during a background briefing call Tuesday that the proposed strategy, which has been called dangerous by many infectious disease experts including National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, is in line with Trump's policy to avoid shutdowns over the pandemic, according to the Post.
Haseltine said Wednesday the recent growth of COVID cases and hospitalizations show that the pandemic isn't under control.
“These viruses, coronaviruses, come back year after year and infect the very same people,” Haseltine added. He pointed out that detailed studies of "their cousins, the coronaviruses that cause colds" show that every "year they come back and infect the same people."
"This is an unmitigated disaster for our country to have people at the highest levels of our government countermanding our best public health officials," Haseltine said. "We know this epidemic can be put under control, other countries have done it. We are doing the opposite.”
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