COVID19

The White House is embracing a ‘herd immunity’ strategy that would allow COVID-19 to spread freely and is widely disputed by scientists



Steven Mnuchin wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump at a briefing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas in August. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images


© BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump at a briefing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas in August. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

  • White House officials say the administration is warming to a controversial herd-immunity strategy advocated in a document called the Great Barrington Declaration. 
  • Under the strategy, those not particularly vulnerable to serious infections are allowed to live normally while the vulnerable are shielded.
  • The document is widely criticized by scientists and emphatically rejected by the World Health Organization, the UK government, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House is embracing a controversial “herd immunity” strategy in response to the coronavirus, according to a briefing given by anonymous senior officials.

The strategy would allow the virus to spread freely with the belief that most of the population would develop a degree of immunity. It advocates shielding the more vulnerable to limit loss of life.

Two administration officials, who were not authorized to give their names, gave the briefing to media organizations including Business Insider.

They cited a controversial document, the Great Barrington Declaration, which was drawn up last week by Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

It has been signed by scientists and health experts across the world, but it has also drawn widespread criticism from public-health officials.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, takes an opposite view of the virus, urging drastic action to limit its spread.

The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Tuesday that a herd-immunity approach was “scientifically and ethically problematic.”

The UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, attacked the Great Barrington Declaration by name in Parliament on Tuesday

P.E.I. entry-level cooks program back in the kitchen after COVID-19 pause

More than a dozen cook trainees on P.E.I. are back in the kitchen after COVID-19 forced a six-month pause to their education. 

The free entry-level cook training program is offered by the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island and the Culinary Institute of Canada, with funding from Skills P.E.I. 

The goal is to train cooks to work in Island kitchens and help restaurants fill their labour gaps.

“Not a two-year graduate, not a chef, but someone who can come in at a very entry level,” said Austin Clement, program manager at the Culinary Institute. “Someone who understands food safety, somebody who understands the sense of urgency, preparation of small little sandwiches, soup, salads — that sort of thing.” 

Demand from restaurants

Clement said the program was launched in 2019 at the request of the food service industry on P.E.I., which was struggling to find enough staff. “In the past, certainly, there have been challenges with working conditions and wages, but that’s improved somewhat over the course of time,” Clement said. “The explosion we’ve had here as Canada’s Food Island, we’ve seen more restaurants, very good restaurants, built a reputation for food. We’re filling a need as volume increases.”

The first training program in 2019 had 16 participants, and five of them have continued their training at the Culinary Institute. 

This year’s program has 14 cooks in training, and all but four were in the program when the pandemic shut it down in March.

“It was a little disappointing. We missed out probably on a few important events that we were supposed to do now due to COVID,” said Kirsten Fisher-Compton, who travels to and from Lennox Island every day.

Fisher-Compton heard about the entry-level cook training program from her boss at Tyne Valley Teas Cafe, where she

Wife of Trump’s labor secretary, who was at Barrett Rose Garden event, tests positive for Covid-19

Trish Scalia, the wife of President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Labor Department said Tuesday night.

The agency said in a statement that doctors performed the test Tuesday afternoon. She has “mild symptoms but [is] doing well,” the statement said.

Eugene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, tested negative Friday night, according to the Labor Department. He has experienced no symptoms.

“The Secretary and Mrs. Scalia will follow the advice of health professionals for Trish’s recovery and the health of those around them. For the time being, the Secretary will work from home while continuing to carry out the mission of the Department and the President’s agenda,” the agency said in the statement.

The secretary and his wife attended the Rose Garden ceremony last month where Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett’s confirmation hearing began this week.



Chris Christie, Pete Hegseth, Jack Graham, Laura Ingraham standing in front of a crowd: Image: Trish Scalia and Melania Trump (Al Drago / Redux Pictures file)


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Image: Trish Scalia and Melania Trump (Al Drago / Redux Pictures file)

Scalia sat behind first lady Melania Trump and next to former senior presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, both of whom have contracted the virus.

Trish Scalia is the latest high-profile person — which includes White House staffers, members of Congress and Trump campaign staff members — to have tested positive for the virus. More than a dozen people connected to the administration, Congress or Trump’s campaign were infected, including the first lady and the president, who has since recovered.

The Trump administration has been sharply criticized for its response to the virus, and public health experts have called the ceremony at the White House a “superspreader” event. The disease, which has shuttered businesses nationwide and sent the economy into a

Labor Secretary Scalia’s Wife Is Latest Rose Garden Guest With COVID-19

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia’s wife has tested positive for COVID-19—becoming at least the 13th person who attended a largely mask-free White House Rose Garden event to contract the coronavirus.



Eugene Scalia et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Chip Somodevilla/Getty


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Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Trish Scalia was seated next to Kellyanne Conway at the Sept. 26 ceremony to announce President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, and right behind Melania Trump.

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Conway and the first lady also got infected with COVID-19, along with the president, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her underlings, and Sens, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, along with several others.

In addition, other members of Trump’s inner circle, like adviser Hope Hicks, who were not at the event also tested positive in the White House outbreak, which put the president in the hospital.

The Labor Department said Secretary Scalia—whose father, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a mentor to Barrett—tested negative but will work from home. His wife “is experiencing mild symptoms but is doing well,” the statement said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: White House Embraces ‘Herd Immunity’ Declaration

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing that authorities should allow the coronavirus to spread among young healthy people while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable — an approach that would rely on arriving at “herd immunity” through infections rather than a vaccine.

Many experts say “herd immunity” — the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it — is still very far off. Leading experts have concluded, using different scientific methods, that about 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to the coronavirus.

On a call convened Monday by the White House, two senior administration officials, both speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to give their names, cited an October 4 petition entitled The Great Barrington Declaration, which argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of businesses and schools.

“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration states, adding, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”

The declaration has more than 9,000 signatories from all over the world, its website says, though most of the names are not public. The document grew out of a meeting hosted by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian-leaning research organization.

Its lead authors include Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist and infectious