White House's Birx denies 'herd immunity' policy under consideration

By Ben Klayman

LIVONIA, Mich. (Reuters) - White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Wednesday dismissed the notion that the White House was considering a strategy of allowing Americans to become infected with coronavirus in order to reach "herd immunity."

"Neither I, nor anybody in the administration, is willing to sacrifice American lives for herd immunity. We'll get to herd immunity through a vaccine and that's the right way to do it," Birx told reporters during a briefing at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, Michigan.

Birx was responding to news reports that new White House pandemic advisor Scott Atlas, who is a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, had advocated for the administration to lift all social and business restrictions aimed at stopping infections from spreading.

Once enough individuals have been infected and become immune, others are less likely to be infected, creating what health officials call "herd immunity."

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"I would not be here if the White House believed that herd immunity was an option for America," Birx said.

Birx was in Michigan to meet with the state's governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and community health officials.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman, writing by Caroline Humer, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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