‘It’s nonsense’: Nation’s top doctor weighs in on herd immunity debate

ORLANDO, Fla. — Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says the idea of spreading COVID-19 to more people as a means of fighting the pandemic is a ridiculous idea.

However, other scientists argue our current approach isn’t working, and they’re calling for the lockdowns to end.

READ: Doctors concerned holidays will lead to increase in COVID-19 exposures

“We’ve just got to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense,” Dr. Fauci says of “The Great Barrington Declaration.” It’s a letter written by scientists from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford calling for an end to the lockdown strategy as a way of protecting people from COVID-19, claiming that approach is causing “irreparable harm” to the general public.

Instead, they’re urging leaders to “let young healthy people get sick with the virus” to work towards herd immunity.

Herd immunity is the idea that a disease will stop spreading once nearly everyone has immunity to it.

Last month, during an ABC News Town Hall, the president said you could achieve that without a vaccine.

The White House is now using the declaration to support its push to reopen all schools and businesses.

READ: Orange County extends COVID-19 safety measures for more student athletes

But Dr. Fauci and other scientists, like Dr. Gavin Yamey from Duke University, believe the notion is reckless and extremely dangerous.

“Infections in the young don’t remain in the young. They drive transmission into the community and transmission into older, vulnerable people who become hospitalized and die,” Dr. Yamey says.

He continues, “The majority of epidemiologists and infectious disease experts are horrified.”

That’s in part because no one is sure that getting COVID-19 once means a person becomes immune and can’t get it again.

In fact, just this week, scientists documented the first re-infection case here in the United States.

READ: AARP launches dashboard to track COVID-19 infections in Florida nursing homes

Dr.  Yamey adds, while most young people recover quickly and fully from COVID-19, some develop an illness called “Long COVID” which can affect the heart, lungs and brain.

That’s why, Yamey says, we should continue wearing masks and social distancing.