As Mayor Bill de Blasio puts parts of New York City back under a strict coronavirus lockdown once again, a declaration saying that it’s time to put these lockdowns behind us for good has gathered signatured from thousands of public health experts and medical professionals. Published Sunday by Harvard Professor Dr. Martin Kulldorf, Oxford epidemiologist Dr. Sunetra Gupta, and Stanford physician Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, “The Great Barrington Declaration” is one of the most authoritative arguments against COVID lockdowns that we’ve seen thus far.
As of Wednesday, the declaration had attracted more than 3,000 signatures from scientists, another 5,000 from medical professionals, and more than 75,000 signatures from the general public.
“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection,” the experts say in the declaration.
“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” they continue. “The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.”
The experts go on to say that by continuing on our current path, we risk doing “irreparable damage” to both our economy and, indeed, our overall public health. They advise moving towards a targeted approach that puts a premium on protecting high-risk individuals such as the elderly and those with serious conditions that could make a coronavirus infection deadly. They note that when you move away from those populations, you find many other harms that are more worrisome than COVID, including the annual flu.
The experts say that political leaders should look to Sweden as a model for what the U.S. can do to build up herd immunity.
“As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls,” the declaration says. “We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.”
The declaration is certain to be controversial, if not least because Democrats are really enjoying their ability to tell their constituents what they can and can’t do. We’ll see if that enjoyment continues after the election, or if this is all just posturing to help sink Trump’s economy.