Fauci on herd immunity: 'Quite frankly, that is nonsense'

During an interview with Yahoo News, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci condemned a natural herd immunity approach to combating the coronavirus and the document called the Great Barrington Declaration, which argues against lockdowns in favor of protecting only those at great risk of dying from COVID-19, such as the elderly. Fauci said, “Quite frankly, that is nonsense” and “very dangerous.”

Video Transcript

DANIEL KLAIDMAN: Dr. Fauci, there were reports that the White House, including Dr. Scott Atlas, one of the president's advisors on the coronavirus task force, may now be embracing herd immunity as a policy, and may favor the so-called Great Barrington declaration, under which only people at high risk of dying would be protected from the virus. Do you think herd immunity is a viable strategy for the US to adopt?

ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah, you know, Dan, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I'll tell you exactly how I feel about that. That, again, is another trap, because when you talk about the Barrington, the Great Barrington Declaration, what they say in there, and then what is implied, are two different things.

They say a, we need to protect the vulnerable. I totally agree with that, no problem. That's applie pie and motherhood. The other thing is that you don't want to lock down or close down the country. I certainly agree with that. I just said that. But in there is the implication that if you just let anybody get, and everybody get, infected-- don't wear masks, let children get infected, let everybody get infected, and just protect the vulnerable-- like, being really careful in nursing homes and places like that.

That doesn't work, because in our community, there's maybe a third of the population, depending upon how you figure it, that are vulnerable and would be prone to getting serious complications from COVID-19 disease. It is impossible, and we've never protected those people in the community. They're not in nursing homes where you can do things in nursing homes. You have the elderly, obese people, people with underlying conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

If you let infections rip, as it were, and say, let everybody get infected that's going to be able to be getting infected, and then we'll have herd immunity-- quite frankly, that is nonsense, and anybody who knows anything about epidemiology will tell you that that is nonsense and very dangerous, because what will happen is that if you do that, by the time you get to herd immunity, you will have killed a lot of people that would have been avoidable. So I mean, you've got, I mean, there is a certain core group of people that are saying that. But talk at the standard people throughout the country who understand infectious diseases, that understand epidemiology, with the exception of the few that you know who we're talking about, they would all vehemently disagree with this idea of just letting everybody getting infected and don't worry about it.