White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas sparred with NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing.
During the question and answer session, Alexander brought up the fact that CDC Director Robert Redfield said earlier Wednesday that “more than 90% of the population remains susceptible” to the virus, then asked Atlas if he agreed “with that assessment.”
“Yeah, I think that Dr. Redfield misstated something there,” Atlas said before an interruption.
“I’m going to answer your question if you’ll let me finish,” he continued. “The data on susceptible that he was talking about was his surveillance data that showed that roughly 9% of the country has antibodies, but when you look at the CDC data state by state, much of that data is old. Some of it goes back to March or April before many of these states had the cases. That’s point number one.”
For his second point, Atlas contended that immunity to COVID-19 “is not solely determined by the percent of people who have antibodies.”
“If you look at the research – and there’s been about 24 papers at least – on the immunity from T cells, that’s a different type of immunity than antibodies, and without being boring, the reality is that according to the papers from Sweden, Singapore, and elsewhere there is cross immunity highly likely from other infections and there is also T cell immunity, and the combination of those makes the antibodies a small fraction of the people that have immunity,” Atlast said. “So the answer is no, it is not 90% of the people that are susceptible to the infection.”
“So I guess my question is, I’m not a doctor, I defer to your expertise and to his, but Americans hear one thing from the CDC director and another thing from you. Who are we to believe?” Alexander asked.
“You’re supposed to believe the science, and I’m telling you the science,” Atlas responded.
“So he’s not telling us science?” asked the NBC News reporter. (RELATED: ‘I Don’t Think Anyone Believes That’: Scott Atlas Reacts To CDC Director’s Comments On Masks Being Better Than A Vaccine)
“I’m telling you the science, and that’s the answer,” said Atlas. “And if you want to look up all the data you’re free to.”
Atlas went on to respond to another question about differing viewpoints by naming epidemiologists from Stanford, Oxford, and other places who have done research on the issue.
T cells, a type of white blood cell that locates and kills invading pathogens, are said to contribute to an immune system’s long-term memory and are gained by exposure to other coronaviruses that comprise common colds. Some estimate that as many as 40 to 60% of people could have hidden immunity from T cells without ever contracting COVID-19.