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For a term that’s at least 100 years old, “herd immunity” has gained new life in 2020.
It starred in many headlines last month, when reports surfaced that a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and adviser to the president, Dr. Scott Atlas, recommended it as a strategy to combat COVID-19. The Washington Post reported that Atlas, a health care policy expert from the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, suggested the virus should be allowed to spread through the population so people build up immunity, rather than trying to contain it through shutdown measures.
At a town hall event a few weeks later, President Donald Trump raised the idea himself, saying the coronavirus would simply “go away,” as people developed “herd mentality” — a slip-up that nonetheless was understood to reference the same