Lockdowns unavoidable? This is a lie, and there is an alternative

The Government insists that locking down the country and smashing the economy is the only way we can live with the coronavirus. This is false. There is another way.

A new proposal called the Great Barrington Declaration was written by three public health experts from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford University. The aim is to encourage governments to lift lockdown restrictions on the healthy and apply special protection measures for those especially vulnerable.

By allowing the young and healthy to continue as normal, the proposal outlines, we would allow COVID-19 to spread to those who are far more likely to experience either mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Subsequently, an extensive degree of immunity to the virus builds within society which will help enormously with our collective recovery.

Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya signing the declaration.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable… Our goal should therefore be to minimise mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

Great Barrington Declaration

The principal authors of the proposal are Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (a epidemiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard University), Dr. Sunetra Gupta (a epidemiologist and professor at Oxford University) and Dr. Martin Kulldorff (a physician and professor at Stanford University Medical School. 

The declaration has been signed by nearly 11,930 medical and public health experts, and just over 34,400 medical practitioners.

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.

Great Barrington Declaration

The Government must change course

In the end we must remember the obvious truth, experts disagree. The Government can continue to claim that it is “following the experts”, but there is an increasing number that profoundly disagree.

Sitting on the Government’s “SAGE” committee – the principal committee advising the government on COVID-19 – there are 22 medical and public health scientists. However there are 46,330 who profoundly disagree and have signed the Great Barrington Declaration.

Lockdowns are not only a social and economic disaster for the country, with respect to the virus itself, they simply don’t work. It’s time for a different approach before the Government does any more unnecessary damage that we will be paying for for years to come.


The Great Barrington Declaration in Full

You can learn more about the Great Barrington Declaration on their website.

The Great Barrington Declaration – 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.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. 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.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. 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 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 PCR testing of other staff and all 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.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.