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November 19, 2020

COVID: A Sensible Strategy

Having thrashed around from lockdown to lockdown, it’s long past time for a smarter approach.

Have folks grown accustomed to masks, lockdowns, petty tyrants, and the snatching away of their fundamental freedoms?

We sure hope not. But we think it’s a bad sign that more people haven’t signed The Great Barrington Declaration.

Since its drafting and release, the Declaration has been signed by tens of thousands of epidemiologists and public-health scientists, including a Nobel Prize winner. And more than 600,000 regular folks.

We added our name to it back in early October, when it was relatively new. For the record, we never sign anything, but this seemed important, even revolutionary. And yet here we are, more than a month later, facing still more heavy-handed statism and life-wrecking lockdowns and wondering what’s holding up the rest of the world.

The Declaration is the product of three of the world’s leading epidemiologists: Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta, and Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff. It’s short and sweet, as so many elegant solutions are, and its premise is simple: “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.”

That’s it. Focused protection. Protection focused on those most at risk — the elderly and the otherwise infirm — while the rest of us take on the bug, beat it, and proceed to herd immunity, just as our species has always done. “Herd immunity,” says Bhattacharya, “is not a strategy — it is a biological fact. Even when we have a vaccine, we will be relying on herd immunity as an end-point for this epidemic.”

Why herd immunity? Because our current course of treatment is worse than the disease itself — and not just economically. As the Declaration notes, “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.”

So, we can either embrace a new and evidence-based approach authored by three of the world’s leading epidemiologists, or we can continue to thrash around from one lockdown to another under the direction of Anthony Fauci — the guy who says we should wear masks even after we’ve been vaccinated. The guy who says we should “do what [we’re] told” despite our “independent spirit.” More than 250,000 of our fellow Americans are dead so far; how much longer are we gonna listen to this guy?

Back in March, before the pandemic hit us, we learned that the average age of the deceased in Italy, Europe’s hardest-hit country, was 82. Eighty-two. And what did our leading health “experts” do with that information? They used the power of the state to shut down our children’s schools and their sports. They forbade us from gathering socially. They did everything they could to prevent us from achieving herd immunity.

“While this is a very dangerous disease for the elderly, for children it’s much less dangerous than the annual flu,” Kulldorff said in an August interview with Contagion Live. “And for people in their 20s and 30s, it’s not a dangerous disease at all.”

Bhattacharya lent some specifics to his colleague’s point in the October issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis: “It still seems to be a common perception that COVID is equally dangerous to everybody, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a thousand-fold difference between the mortality rate in older people, 70 and up, and the mortality rate in children, [for whom] this disease is less dangerous than the seasonal flu. This year, in the United States, more children have died from the seasonal flu than from COVID by a factor of two or three. … If you look at studies worldwide, the COVID fatality rate for people 70 and up is about four percent — four in 100 among those 70 and older, as opposed to two in 1,000 in the overall population.”

“Again,” says Bhattacharya, “this huge difference between the danger of COVID to the young and the danger of COVID to the old is the most important fact about the virus. Yet it has not been sufficiently emphasized in public health messaging or taken into account by most policymakers.”

The Great Barrington Declaration is a quick read — just 510 words in all — and an essential one. It’ll take you two minutes.

If that’s too long, President Donald Trump provided the Cliffs Notes version just before leaving Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday, October 5: “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

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