The White House is embracing a ‘herd immunity’ strategy that would allow COVID-19 to spread freely, despite it being widely disputed by scientists


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The White House is embracing a controversial “herd immunity” strategy, according to a briefing given by senior but anonymous officials.

The strategy would allow the disease to spread freely, in the belief that most of the population will develop a degree of immunity. It advocates shielding the more vulnerable to limit loss of life.

Two administration officials, who were not authorized to give their names, gave the briefing to media organizations including Business Insider.

They cited a controversial document, the Great Barrington Declaration, which was drawn up last week by Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

It has been signed by scientists and health experts across the world, but has also drawn widespread criticism from public health officials.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert on the White House coronavirus task force, takes an opposite view of the virus, urging drastic action to limit its spread. 

The director of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Tuesday that a herd immunity approach was “scientifically and ethically problematic.”

The UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, attacked the Barrington declaration by name in parliament on Tuesday and said that it was based on flawed information.

The declaration argues that lockdown restrictions are having a devastating impact on public health, and should be immediately lifted for all but the most vulnerable.

Since its release last Thursday, the declaration has been criticised by other experts in an open letter, who say that there is no convincing evidence that high levels of immunity are achievable.

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They noted that shielding the vulnerable has proven difficult, and that a much higher proportion of the population than the elderly are at risk of long-term complications from the disease. 

Christina Pagel, director of University College London’s Clinical Operational Research Unit, on Twitter noted that the herd immunity approach is rejected by most of the world’s top public health bodies. Those advocating it, she said, are breaking with scientific consensus.

I can’t even… Scientists aren’t divided. There are maybe max 4 or 5 scientists pushing “let the young get it” in the media. On the other “side” are the CMO, CSO, NHS, BMA, WHO, ECDC, CDC, any pretty much any public health expert you care to name.

— Christina Pagel (@chrischirp) October 6, 2020

President Donald Trump has been accused throughout the pandemic of ignoring the advice of scientists and public health officials, rapidly pushing for the economy to re-open, hosting packed campaign events, and offering limited support for public health measures. 

Olivia Troye, a former official on the White House coronavirus task force, claimed that the president’s approach is guided more by concern for reelection than concern for human life. 

In May the Trump administration adopted a suppression strategy, advocating a series of stringent lockdown measures to slow the spread of the disease, after a study by experts at Imperial College London found that a failure to do so could result in the deaths of 2.2 million Americans. 

In a recent shake-up …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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