Just as the Trump administration has signaled its readiness to create a “mob immune system” by deliberately allowing the spread of coronavirus, major scientific organizations are condemning a plan they say would be fatal and practically impossible.
The plan, formulated by three scientists in a controversial document known as the “Great Barrington Declaration”, calls for the rescue of only “sensitive” people and for everyone else to be infected with COVID-19. The authors discussed the strategy at a meeting with two top White House officials last week.
This week, the head of the World Health Organization and more than a dozen groups representing thousands of infectious diseases and public health experts pulled back in a series of formal formal condemnations.
“Never in the history of public health has the mob’s immune system been used as a strategy to respond to an epidemic outbreak, let alone an epidemic.” It is scientifically and ethically problematic, “said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhnam Bre Bryas on Monday.
And on Wednesday, a group of 80 researchers, in a letter published in the Lancet, a high-profile medical journal, called the idea “a dangerous lie unsupported by scientific evidence.”
The Great Barrington Declaration, published on a website sponsored by libertarian think tanks, argues that coronavirus is not so dangerous to many people, so “those who are not sensitive should be allowed to start life as normal immediately.” The letter cites “serious concerns over the harmful physical and mental health effects of existing COVID-19 policies” and calls for individualized education, reopening of rest restaurants and businesses, and resumption of large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events.
So far, the letter has been signed by more than 35,000 self-proclaimed scientists, scientists and clinicians – however, some signatures, such as “Dr. Johnny Banana” and “Professor Cominic Dummings,” were identified as obvious forgeries. All signatures were later made private.
The document’s architects are a trio of scientists at Harvard, Stanford and Oxford universities, who have been telling policymakers for months that the virus is not deadly. Last week they met with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azhar and Stanford neuroradiologist Scott Atlas on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Both expressed support for the views of scientists. Afterwards, Azar tweeted that he “heard a strong reinforcement of the Trump administration’s strategy of aggressively defending vulnerable people when opening schools and workplaces.” And on a call called by the White House on Monday, anonymous administration officials referred reporters to the Great Barrington Declaration. “We are not endorsing any plan,” an official said, according to the Washington Post. “This plan supports the fact that the President’s policy has been going on for months.”
The Great Barrington Declaration has been provoking an epidemic in the months of public interest that the federal government has failed to control. More than 216,000 Americans have died. Life is in turmoil in virtually every sense: large-scale job losses, large and small cancellations, gatherings and businesses, schools and restaurants are closed. Data suggest that epidemics have non-COVID-19 health effects: people are screened for cancer and treated for stroke, and more adults are associated with mental health and substance abuse.
As the world awaits vaccines, U.S. And “epidemic fatigue” is spreading elsewhere. In the UK, where COVID-19 cases are on the rise again, people are protesting public resistance as legislators seek to implement a second round of lockdown measures.
But the mainstream scientific community says abandoning healthy people to protect them from the virus is not an acceptable solution.
U.S. As many as 90% of the population remains susceptible to the virus, according to recent CDC estimates. Health experts worry that, in the absence of vaccines, if healthy people are not allowed to spread pathogens, they get sick, get hospitalized and kill many of them, not drowning the healthcare system. And even if young, healthy people die at relatively low rates, they can still be infected with the virus in high-risk groups or join “long-hulers,” who endure mild symptoms for months. It also doesn’t guarantee that survivors will be immune forever: no one knows how long the immunity lasts, and there have been a lot of reported refactories.
These experts also say that it would be impossible to separate the elderly, the living conditions, or the millions of “vulnerable” Americans living in multi-class homes. The Great Barrington Declaration proposes to separate these groups from the rest of society but provides no plan for how to do so.
The heads of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association said it was “inappropriate, irresponsible and ignorant to promote the concept of ‘mob immunity’ in recently released documents in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.” Represents more than 12,000 infectious disease specialists and 6,000 HIV / AIDS specialists, in a statement on Wednesday.
In another joint statement Wednesday, 14 leading public health organizations declared that “the suggestions made by the Great Barrington Declaration are not scientifically based” and that they would “sacrifice lives haphazardly and unnecessarily.”
The group wrote, “This declaration is not a strategy, it is a political statement.” These include the American Public Health Association, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Safety. “That sound ignores public health skills. It preys on frustrated people. Instead of selling false hopes that will be turned into predictions, we should focus on how to manage this epidemic safely, responsibly and fairly. “
And a group of researchers is confronting the Great Barrington Declaration with its own open letter: the John Snow Memorandum, named for the 19th-century physician who discovered the source of the cholera outbreak in London and is considered the founder of the modern epidemic. .
In the letter, the signatories acknowledged that the ongoing sanctions in countries have led to “widespread disability and declining confidence” in the failure to adopt “adequate provisions to manage the epidemic and its social effects.”
But society cannot easily allow the virus to spread among large groups of people, an argument that was led by 300 researchers and signed by others spreading the spread of public health, epidemiology, medicine, health policy and other disciplines.
Measures such as comprehensive testing and contact tracing need to be implemented, and they must be supported through financial and social programs that encourage community responses and address inequalities exacerbated by the epidemic, he wrote. They cited Japan, Vietnam and New Zealand as countries that have shown that transmission can be controlled.
“The evidence is very clear: controlling the spread of the Kovid-1 community is the best way to save our society and economy until safe and effective vaccines and treatments arrive in the coming months,” he wrote.
“We cannot afford disruptions that weaken the effective response; We need to act urgently based on the evidence. “