Trump Brings New 'Herd Immunity' Doctor Onto Coronavirus Task Force

President Donald Trump's newest addition to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Scott Atlas, is a frequent Fox News guest and critic of what he views as "media hysteria" over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atlas was the lone doctor to join Trump onstage during this past week's pandemic briefings. The move signaled the administration's widening gap with Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, who have directly contradicted Trump in the past and have been blasted by conservatives and Trump allies who criticize their support of widespread social distancing efforts and opposition to blanket school re-openings.

Now Atlas, a former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, provides a more tempered approach to the pandemic shared publicly by the president.

Atlas told Fox News in early July the United States is an "outlier" not re-opening its schools because the news media has created pandemic "hysteria."

He has criticized government lockdown efforts for having prevented "natural herd immunity" to take effect, or when a large portion of the community becomes immune to a disease, resulting in the reduced likelihood of it spreading from person-to-person.

"As a result," the Mayo Clinic writes, "the whole community becomes protected - not just those who are immune."

Atlas has previously touted that it's a "good thing" for younger, healthy Americans to be exposed to coronavirus because children are at essentially "zero risk," something that health experts told The Associated Press Sunday is false. The AP cited a study which found 35 percent of young adults who contracted coronavirus did not return to normal health two to three weeks after testing positive.

"Scott is a very famous man who's also very highly respected," Trump told reporters last week in announcing the addition of Atlas to the task force. "He has many great ideas and he thinks what we've done is really good."

White House spokesman Judd Deere released a statement describing Atlas a "world renowned physician and school," and he dismissed any challenges to his qualifications.

But other public experts and doctors are less optimistic. "I think he's utterly unqualified to help lead a COVID response," said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University law professor who specializes his practice in public health, told The Associated Press. "His medical degree isn't even close to infectious diseases and public health and he has no experience in dealing with public health outbreaks."

Speaking with San Diego County Board of Supervisors Jim Desmond in early July, Atlas noted the infection-fatality rate for COVID-19 is ".04 percent for people under 70." He said this means it's less than or equal to seasonal influenza for everyone under age 70.

Newsweek reached out to representatives with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace is an American, a conservative think tank where Atlas is a fellow, for comment.

"But you're not going to hear much about that because it sort of goes against the fear and the panic in the media it's only sensationalized when it's bad news for some reason," Atlas added.

Atlas, writing in an April op-ed, said "vital health care for millions of Americans was deferred or skipped to accommodate potential COVID-19 patients," who ultimately did not need the outsized room in hospitals. He said that many Americans lost their lives as part of a "trade-off" caused by "our policy of total isolation."

"In the absence of immunization, society needs circulation of the virus, assuming high-risk people can be isolated," he continued.

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President Trump's newest addition to the White House coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Scott Atlas, is a frequent Fox News guest and critic of what he views as "media hysteria" over the COVID-19 pandemic. Screenshot: Fox News | America's Newsroom | YouTube