Former Trump appointee encouraged herd immunity strategy for Covid-19, internal emails reveal
December 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.
Lane County's Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Lisandra Guzman uses a swab to collect a sample for a Covid-19 test at a site Thursday at Centro de Fe Church. Oreug 053020 Covid Testing1
A former top Trump appointee urged health officials to adopt a "herd immunity" approach to Covid-19, according to internal emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee and shared with reporters.
(CNN)A former top Trump appointee urged health officials to adopt a "herd immunity" approach to Covid-19, according to internal emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee and shared with reporters.
Former Health and Human Services senior adviser Paul Alexander repeatedly urged his colleagues at HHS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pursue a herd immunity strategy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
One example is when he wrote in an email on July 3 that Americans "must go on with life. "
In another email on July 4, Alexander wrote about people exposing themselves to the virus to establish herd immunity.
An HHS spokesperson told CNN in a statement that Alexander's emails "absolutely did not shape department strategy. "
"Dr. Paul Alexander previously served as a temporary Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and is no longer employed at the Department," the spokesperson said, adding, "Herd immunity is not the policy of the United States COVID-19 response. "
Such an approach — similar to what was pursued in Sweden — would mean that many people nationwide would have to get sick with the coronavirus in order to build up a natural immunity across communities.
About 2 million Americans could die in the effort to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus, Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and CNN medical analyst, said in late August.
Dr. Scott Atlas, a former White House coronavirus task force member, denied in late October that the administration was pushing herd immunity.
"As we have specifically stated many times on the record and in print, we emphatically deny that the White House, the President, the administration, or anyone advising the President has pursued or advocated for any strategy of achieving herd immunity by letting the coronavirus infection spread through the community," he said at the time.