Q: The Great Barrington Declaration has signatories which includes over 10,000 medical and public-health scientists and nearly 27,000 medical practitioners. Their basic premise recommends protecting those most vulnerable to COVID-19, and fosters the return to normal living for those middle aged and younger, including a return to normal life, school, business, etc., since the risk of death is virtually zero for this younger group. What is your position on this declaration and what specific scientific evidence do you cite to support your position?
A: The “Great Barrington Declaration” came from an economic think tank that clearly has different goals than saving lives. To even suggest trying to reach herd immunity for COVID-19 through infections is unethical because:
1. Millions would needlessly die. Many more millions would have long-term complications.
2. Infection may not confer immunity. Some who have been infected get a more serious case the second time they are infected.
3. There is no way to “protect the vulnerable.” There have been no serious, realistic proposals as such put forth by this group or any others. Anyone, including younger and healthier people, can have serious cases which result in hospitalization, disability or death. Additionally, the “general population” works with vulnerable populations all of the time in long-term care facilities, health care, schools, etc. Too often we forget that a large segment of the population has underlying health conditions, including obesity, that put people at greater risk for serious COVID-19 cases.
4. Health care systems would be overwhelmed and there would be needless, additional excess mortality.
The scientific evidence that this declaration is flawed is everywhere in the literature, and certainly from the CDC, the world leaders in pandemic response.
The hard part is to find unbiased scientific evidence and plans to support this “declaration.”