DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - The China virus anti-lockdown movement has received a shot in the arm. Nearly half a million people from around the world have signed a declaration that expresses grave concern about the physical and mental damage that has resulted from the Wuhan pandemic shutdown. Many of the signees are distinguished epidemiologists, scientists and other concerned health professionals.
"The Great Barrington Declaration," at the time of this writing, has been signed by more than 30,000 medical and public health practitioners and scientists and roughly 450,000 members of the general public.
The movement that crystallized in this document started in the United States and spread internationally. The foremost concern expressed is that the ongoing shutdowns are detrimental to the human condition. The signatories claim that there are better ways to combat this pandemic, ways that would benefit the public at large.
The introduction of the letter summarizes its purpose: "As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists," the authors write, "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.'"
Focused protection refers to a plan that distinguishes between those who are at high risk and the overwhelming majority who are not. The health experts purport that as immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection decreases — even for the vulnerable:
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."
The next paragraph disabuses readers of the notion that this document is born out of one particular political party or ideology: "Coming from both the Left and Right and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people," the writers contended.
Their concerns originate from serious threats to the health of those who do not have the virus that are posed by reigning protocols. "Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short- and long-term public health," they wrote. "The results (to name a few) include ... worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health." They contend this will, all things considered, lead to a comparatively greater number of deaths in the years to come.
These professionals contend it is the working class and younger members of society that carry the heaviest burden. Further, they warn, "Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice."
In contradistinction to the original mantra that shutdowns will be needed until we "flatten the curve," the signatories recognize that goal has morphed into simply waiting for a vaccine to become available.
"Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed," they stated. The document addressed both the vulnerable and non-vulnerable, with suggestions on how to apply prudent measures to their lives.
The health experts gave some concrete advice to people living at nursing homes as well as the staff that serves them. Retired people living at home were also mentioned. They "should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home." However, "when possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside."
The vast majority of the population who are not vulnerable "should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal," it says. "Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd-immunity threshold."
As for schools and universities, the letter reads "they should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed."
The final paragraph may be the most controversial. The writer claims public establishments should be open and public events should resume as usual:
Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sports 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.
Three of the architects of the declaration are highly respected figures in the field of epidemiology: Dr. Martin Kulldorff is a Harvard University professor of medicine and epidemiologist with expertise in infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine-safety evaluations; Dr. Sunetra Gupta is a professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology and vaccine development; and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is a professor at Stanford University Medical School, an epidemiologist and a public health policy expert.
The document also contains the signatures of many other medical and public health scientists and practitioners.
President Trump has been saying similar things since the summer, often being met with contradiction or ridicule from media pundits.
President Trump's trade advisor Peter Navarro has called medical experts "tone deaf" over their shutdown recommendations and has warned that prolonged shutdowns could pose a dire long-term health threat to the greater population.
The Great Barrington Document has not been received universally.
Associate professor Dr. Stephen Griffin of the University of Leeds School of Medicine in Britain says the declaration has profound ethical, logistical and scientific flaws: Vulnerable people come from all walks of life and deserve to be "treated equally."
Dr. Simon Clarke, an expert in cellular biology at the University of Reading, says herd immunity may not be achievable.
"Natural, lasting, protective immunity to the disease would be needed," he says, "and we don't know how effective or long-lasting people's post-infection immunity will be."
Social media is already censoring the declaration. Reddit is removing it from their platform, citing coronavirus violations.