February, March, April, May 2020: Where were the televised or livestreamed debates between independent science advisors on how best to manage COVID?
Where was the frank, upfront discussion of predictable “collateral damages” from long-term lockdowns?
There were none.
Press conferences yes, deliveries of mandates and advisories by ministers, governors, agency heads, emergency committees and such like aplenty, always informed by those twin lighthouses of Technocracy, “Science” and “Experts”.
But full-bore debates between epidemiologists, public health directors, virologists, immunologists with possibly differing strategies, tactics and interpretations of evolving data? … none.
Lockdowns were extended long past the infamous “flatten the curve” breakpoint for hospitals.
Objections to lockdown have been boiling up on the fringes. Petitions and protests in Belgium, Spain, Italy, a huge rally in Germany, UK. Mostly right-flavored protests in some US state capitals.
This “Great Barrington” declaration, with tens of thousands of signatories already, may represent the emergence of an alternative — possibly more balanced and coherent — public health plan vs. “the suppression approach” of infinitely extended lockdowns.
The Suppression approach amounts to a veiled global vaccine marketing campaign. Or taking it one step further, it’s a ploy to institute mandatory adult vaccine schedules, with digital, possibly implanted, “immunity passports” attached. Many of these vaccines have been paid for upfront by governments, to the tune of billions. $10B for US Operation Warspeed. In the US, vaccine-makers have no liability. A happy-go-lucky biz model for Pharma, with even bigger bucks to come, depending on how it all plays out.
The longer the lockdown policies go on, the greater the demand will be for vaccine solutions. Now that the death rate has bottomed out in many countries, the new fear-narrative is around “cases” – ie, mostly unreliable PCR test results, uncorrelated with actual symptoms – the old meaning of the phrase “cases”.
Just a few days earlier, BBC-TV ran a segment touching on Herd Immunity — the phrase briefly mentioned by UK SAGE gurus until the hysterical death projections by Ferguson won the day. However they were working off generic modelling of Herd Immunity. A number of new studies are showing that the threshold at which Herd Immunity can take effect can be much lower – even as low as 20%, depending (Gomes & co.). Other studies show that SARS2 may have been around longer than thought. And yet other studies are showing cross-reactivity with other coronaviruses, effectively conferring some immunity prior to SARS2 arrival. A new study from Edinburgh Univ, leveraging the same code base as Imperial’s with refined numbers, shows a herd immunity approach would have a lower long term death toll.
Declaration signer Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford) maintains that Herd Immunity is a “biological fact” that is unavoidable, one way or the other. (Biological dynamic?)
Others will disagree, arguing A) Herd Immunity is nothing more than a pseudo-construct of mass vaccination; B) there is no successful track record of herd immunity “campaigns;” and C) anything like that (Sweden, effectively) must be akin to “MURDER“.
(Jeremy Corbyn slapped the eugenics label on early Herd Immunity discussions in the UKGov. Did he not realize that SARS2 behaves like a eugenics virus already? Think about it.)
There are some questions about taking this route:
- What about Long-Haulers? Related, what about “Lurker Virus” potential – debilitating symptoms that may come after apparent recovery, or many years down the road?
- Is immunity actually long-lasting, and what about those re-infection reports?
- Can governments effectively quarantine millions or tens of millions of elderly and vulnerable people for X more months? Where will the money come from?
- What if SARS2 was lab-engineered?
These are all real questions, and they need to be fully and formally debated, with full public visibility.
BBC, in the above-mentioned segment, included a sound-byte from Sunetra Gupta, a left-leaning theoretical epidemiologist at Oxford, who came out early with criticisms of the UK government’s Lockdown policy and Neil Ferguson’s numbers.
Gupta is another one of the instigators of this Declaration. She repeatedly points out how the burden of the lockdown falls on the poor. She cites a claim that in India alone, 130 million people may starve. Other estimates are higher.
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.https://gbdeclaration.org/
To be clear, the setting of the Declaration was hosted by AEIR, a libertarian think tank — basically Mises / Austrian economics types. Does that discount the arguments? Gupta doesn’t seem to care, for what it’s worth. If Fox & Trump tout HCQ, does that make it bogus? Because most developing countries are using it to reduce their death tolls.
The topsy turvy politics of COVID is a tough topic. By and large, the left has uncritically accepted most of the lockdown policy and taken public health authority statements at face value, only asking for more cash handouts. (Matt Taibbi takes some predictable shots at corruption around the money-flow, but doesn’t go further.) Leaving radicals, free-thinkers alternative researchers, “anti-vaxxers” and segments of the Right protesting against different aspects.
Johns Hopkins: The Myth about Herd Immunity (not COVID-specific rebuttal) https://www.globalhealthnow.org/2019-12/myth-about-herd-immunity
Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8810977/Coronavirus-Anti-lockdown-petition-calling-herd-immunity-reaches-30-000-signatures.html
We’ve been moderating a FB group, CVQs, and herd immunity has been intensively debated for the last few months. Feel free to join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/3727623423946906
FOOTNOTE: Imperial College got hundreds of millions from Gates Fdn; Chris Witty, former CEO of GAVI, funded by Gates Fdn; Patrick Vallence, former head of GlaxoSmithKline, currently chairs SAGE, a Gates Fdn-instigated (?) entity. On the other hand, these “corruption” data points seem contradictory to the claims that Witty and Valance were looking at pre-vaccine herd immunity from the getgo.)