Defying its medical and public health experts, the Trump Administration endorses “herd immunity”, the belief that Coronavirus should be allowed to spread through the general population.

Almost all scientific experts have assessed that herd immunity, where the virus is checked because almost everyone has contracted it, is a distant and therefore deadly approach. Analyses estimate that about 85% to 90% of the US population is still susceptible to the coronavirus.

But on a call organized Monday by the White House, “two senior administration officials” promoted an October 4 petition, The Great Barrington Declaration, which calls for the lifting of measures to contain the virus.

The lead authors include Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist at Stanford University and colleague of Dr. Scott Atlas, Donald Trump’s medical confidante.

Trump, demanding a full “reopening” of businesses and schools, has pushed aside the Government’s experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He has replaced them with Atlas, a neuroradiologist and Fox TV commentator who has espoused herd immunity.

The Declaration came out of a meeting hosted by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian-leaning research organization. Lead authors include Sunetra Gupta and Gabriela Gomes, two scientists who propose that societies may achieve herd immunity with only 10% to 20% infection of the populations have been infected with the virus, a position most epidemiologists disagree with.

Authors claim more than 9,000 signatories but many of the names are satirical, such as Dr. Johnny Bananas; “Cominic Dummings”, a mocking of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings, who has broken Coronavirus measures; and Dr. Person Fakename.

The US death toll reached 215,887 on Tuesday. Confirmed cases, rising at their fastest rate since mid-August are 7,856,605 with a rise of 52,406 in 24 hours.

“Immoral and Unethical”

Last month, three epidemiological teams strongly countered the assertion that the US has achieved herd immunity or is close to doing so.

“The idea that herd immunity will happen at 10 or 20 percent is just nonsense,” says Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which provides a leading model of the pandemic.

Last week the Institute estimated that, with current measures, the US will have 363,000 deaths by January 1. Daily deaths will rise from about 750 to 2,900 by the end of December.

Johns Hopkins University scientists project 395,000 deaths by February 1, but 95% mask use will reduce the figure to 316,000.

On Monday the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, criticized the “immoral” and “unethical” promotion of herd immunity.

He explained that proponents are misusing the term, applying it to exposure to the virus rather than to its proper use over mass vaccination.

Herd immunity is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached….

Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it. Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.

Biden: “How Many Empty Chairs?”

The latest virus surge in the US is being propelled by rises in the Midwest and Mountain West, straining hospital capacity.

Sixteen states set weekly records last week, with North Dakota and South Dakota setting national marks for per capita cases. Wisconsin is preparing field hospitals to cope with the influx of patients.

More than 36,000 people are hospitalized in the US, the highest number than at any time since Aug. 29. Cases are trending upwards in 36 states, including much of the Northeast and in Illinois.

Campaigning in Florida, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden again challenged the “unconscionable” approach of a “reckless” Donald Trump to the pandemic.

Biden asked, “How many empty chairs are around the dining room table tonight because of his negligence? How many people’s hearts are broken?”