The White House-backed ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ calling for herd immunity wouldn’t just fail — it could lead to 640,000 deaths

The mostly maskless crowd waiting to get into BOK Center on June 20, 2020.

Summary List Placement

The White House is applauding a new document drawn up earlier this month at a libertarian think tank in small-town Massachusetts, which falls neatly in line with the Trump Administration’s own coronavirus plan: reopen, reopen, reopen.

The letter, called the Great Barrington Declaration (named after the 7,000 person Massachusetts town where it was drafted) was written by three scientists from Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard Universities, who lament the effect of the pandemic — and strategies to mitigate it — on society.

The declaration’s bottom line: Most people should go out and live life as if the virus does not exist, while at the same time “better protecting those who are at highest risk” of dying or getting sick from the virus. (The document does not explicitly say how, exactly, they would go about protecting high-risk people from the virus.

The Barrington group calls this idea “focused protection,” and it’s one the White House has long touted. 

Many of the concerns in the declaration about the fallout from COVID-19 lockdowns are real, including “lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health.”

But most public health experts around the world agree that the scientists’ stated plan is both shortsighted and deadly.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, an association of more than 12,000 disease scientists and doctors across the country, released a statement on Wednesday calling the Barrington plan “inappropriate, irresponsible and ill-informed.”

There is no safe way to completely reopen every school and every business while properly shielding people from death and disease until you get the number of cases down in a population to very low levels, as South Korea has done, by testing, tracing, and distancing. Trying to circumvent that critical public health work — by instead letting people rush out and get infected — is an unprecedented public health strategy, and one that for this particular virus, would not work anyway.

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The resulting “death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told actor Matthew McConaughey in August. 

Even with that reality on the table, nearly half a million names have signed onto the declaration, which has been translated into 22 languages. 

Herd immunity isn’t what the declaration says it is

Pursuing herd immunity to the coronavirus through natural infections is, in a word, impractical.

About 0.5% of the world’s population has been exposed to the virus so far. We have a long way to go to hit even some of the lowest posited herd immunity thresholds, which would require 50% (or more) of the population to be exposed. 

But the Barrington declaration instead states 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.”

Public health experts largely agree that’s not …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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