WASHINGTON, DC, Mar 31 — A leading authority on COVID-19 says that lockdowns are “the biggest public health threat we’ve ever made.” Stanford University Medical School professor, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, says the harm it is causing is “catastrophic.”
Bhattacharya is a co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, a document that suggests the focus during the pandemic should be on protecting the elderly, the most vulnerable segment of the population. It goes on to say that “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.”
The doctor points out that, based on studies, the fatality rate for the elderly, those 70 years old and older, as a result of COVID is four in 100; but among the general population, the mortality rate is two in 1,000.
Some consider the Declaration as controversial, but to date, it has received signed support from 13,796 medical & public health scientists, 41,890 medical practitioners, and 764,085 concerned citizens.
Bhattacharya and his co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff, Ph.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital and professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University Sunetra Gupta, Ph.D. recently participated in a panel discussion hosted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Florida is among the first states to lift COVID restrictions, including lockdown and mask orders. The three Declaration authors fully supported DeSantis’ decision. As Dr. Kulldorff put it, “It’s obvious by now that these lockdowns and contact tracing and masks were not able to prevent a resurgence of the disease during the winter.”
Meanwhile, as vaccine distribution expands throughout the country, there is hope that herd immunity will slow down and ultimately stop the spread of the COVID. Herd immunity is “the point at which enough people are immune to a virus — through vaccination or natural immunity — that the virus no longer easily spreads through a population,” according to the Healthline Website. Some experts say that we could reach herd immunity in a matter of months, depending on the rate of vaccine distribution.
It should be noted that the Great Barrington effort is not just focused on the achievement of herd immunity. Its statement of purpose emphasizes the need for focused care for those most susceptible to COVID:
“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.
“Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent testing of other staff and visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.”
It’s meant to be a hopeful message that is in contrast to the statement made earlier this week by President Biden’s pick to head up the Centers for Disease Control, Rochelle Walensky, that she has the “recurring feeling of impending doom.”