By Michael Hernandez
BARRINGTON, MA—Google has censored the Great Barrington Declaration spearheaded by three renowned epidemiologists: Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford Medical University (who provided a declaration supporting Godspeak Calvary Pastor Rob McCoy during the Ventura Superior Court case on Sept. 28); Martin Kulldorff (Harvard Medical School); and Sunetra Gupta (Oxford University) as part of Big Tech’s war on what they believe is misinformation to the public—how COVID-19 is to be interpreted and how governments should respond to the virus.
While you can’t find the Great Barrington Declaration on Google, you can find negative pieces about the Declaration using the search engine platform. Likewise, the same occurs on Reddit as the moderators of the coronavirus forum with 2.3 million members have declared it to be “spam” especially after the World Health Organization has been warning about an “infodemic” of Covid misinformation.
(Editor’s Note: Two positive stories on the Great Barrington Declaration written by Fraser Myers could be read on Spike.online.com before getting censored.)
The Great Barrington Declaration named for the private home in which it was signed on Oct. 4 was then quickly placed at this website: https://gbdeclaration.org/ in 19 languages and also signed by an additional 35 medical and public health scientists and medical practitioners before giving an opportunity for others to sign the declaration (including concerned citizens). On Oct. 11, the website reported there were over 340,00 signatories.
The Great Barrington Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, which is a libertarian think tank funded by billionaire Charles Koch’s conservative Koch Foundation.
The Declaration states: “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 polices, 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 screening 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.”
(Editor’s Note: The following link has two videos—the first one is two hours and the second one is 33 minutes and recorded by Lockdown TV from Unherd. It is transcribed in case you may no longer find the website: https://gbdeclaration.org/video/.)
“As the eyes of the world have been on the United States and the health of President Trump, three prominent scientists this past weekend (Oct. 4) have had a meeting in a house in Massachusetts to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic. They have come together to produce a declaration which sets out an alternative approach to how this virus should be tackled.”
- Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University)
“This is the saner approach–the moral approach–the more scientifically based approach.
“Herd immunity is not a strategy. Herd immunity is a fact about most infectious diseases that spread through the population. Even with an effective vaccine, we would be relying on herd immunity. It is less a strategy than recognition of a biological fact.
“Our aim is not to say we should do nothing. Quite the opposite. Our strategy includes protecting the vulnerable. We have learned a lot about this disease in the eight months we have had to live with it. We have learned who are most vulnerable, if they would become infected for mortality and other severe bad outcomes.
“We also have learned about groups that are relatively well protected even if they should become infected, children, for instance. More children in the United States have died of the season flu than have died from COVID-19. Children are relatively protected from COVID-19 if they should become infected than an older adult—65 or 75 or higher.
“Our strategy proposes concrete ways of addressing the needs of the vulnerable so they don’t become infected and they don’t die from the disease. At the same time, the people who are suffering from the consequences of the lockdown—closed schools, closed businesses, closed universities, depression and suicides all that enormous collateral damage when they face very little risk of death from the disease has to end. The premise is not to do something reckless but to take account of all public health. We care about cancer. We care about all these things.
“The United States has followed a strategy similar to the United Kingdom and many other countries and have attempted a more or less complete lockdown: ignoring the age- targeted approach we are advocating. It is to be regretted that attempts to scientific knowledge have been politicized in the context of an epidemic that has touched every human on the face of the earth. It is inevitable that it would become political.
“I don’t actually know the politics of my colleagues. I am pretty sure if we did, we probably would disagree. But what is striking to me, that despite this diverse background, we have come to agreement on what science is telling us. This is a science-based approach aimed at minimizing the harm to the population at large. It is a way to reduce the harm to the vulnerable and the younger population.
“The policy we currently have to slow the disease, it extends the period when grandmother and granddaughter need not to be in contact with one another. A focus protection plan shortens the period that requires separation. It is more humane than the current strategy of an extended lockdown for an indefinite period of time.
“A focused protection plan would require some separation but that is something you already have in the U.S. and many other countries. The issue is what should the granddaughter do with her time? Does she go to school? Engage in normal activities? Or does she sit at home with the psychological harm we have seen already with children and young adults coming from isolation. This is the more humane policy. This reduces the amount of time the isolation and separation needs to happen and it brings us to a state where we can resume normal life; where the vulnerable no longer face a threat from the younger population.
“I see a scientific consensus among people who have looked at this very carefully. Of course, there are people who disagree with us; but I think we can persuade them if they are looking at the same things we are looking at and the same models and looking at the policy and the collateral damage the way the evidence is becoming undeniable and hard to ignore.
“I believe science works. It can work slower than one hopes, but I am hopeful that we can persuade people to listen to us. I have regretted this attempt to suppress scientific discussion because some ideals are too dangerous to discuss. This idea is not dangerous. If you ask me, it is dangerous to do what we currently are doing; but I don’t want to suppress discussion. If I learn from people who disagree with me, all the better.
“There is a split in the population. Some are very scared and others are dreading the loss of their livelihood and opportunities for their children. Giving freedom to both is very important to public health. Public health should address health by giving accurate information.
“In the U.S. there is a perception that young people are at very high risk when in fact they are not. On the flip side, I have seen people who are older who think there is not much risk when in fact, there is. Accurate public health messaging will help address that fear and people will appropriately understand the risk.
“The focused protection idea expands freedom in the sense that you are not fearful, it allows you to re-engage even for older people. If my grandchildren comes to me, I might be at risk for a little while; but I am going to hug them anyway. That freedom is informed rather than the perception everyone faces equal risk which is not true from the disease.
“There are creative ways we can use the welfare means we have in our counties to allow this to happen. Instead, what we have done is said: ‘Everyone takes a sabbatical unless you are an essential worker or poor. Everyone rich takes a sabbatical but everyone poor you pay for this disease mitigation by you taking the risk.’ This strategy in many ways promotes equality. The current strategy promotes inequality.
“The science and the morality meet as does standard public health process.
“We think about people that get the virus as if they are at fault. We stigmatize people who have the disease. Yet, public health messaging has reinforced that. We have to change that and a focused protection plan will help change that. The responsibility to limit the damage is a communal responsibility not just an individual one. The messaging has been if you do this and do that; you are a good person, but that is a mistake. This is the saner more moral approach and more scientific based approach.”
- Sunetra Gupta (University of Oxnard):
“We’re putting on the table an alternative strategy in dealing with the current crisis which protects the vulnerable but at the same time allows us to minimize the damage done to the young and disadvantaged sectors of our population. That strategy centers on shielding the vulnerable and finding ways to protect the vulnerable—those in homes and stopping infections in hospitals and in the community.
“We can do that while not allowing those vulnerable to this disease to go out there and get infected and build up what we call herd immunity which is a level of immunity that reduces the level of risk in the population; particularly to those who are vulnerable. Many of us, quite independently have come up thinking in various different ways, we have arrived at very similar conclusions; but this has not been given a wide reception. In fact, it is met with resistance.
“We should move in this way immediately. We will be relying on a combination of vaccinations and acquired immunity to provide the level of protection we really want. This protects the vulnerable.
“We have endured total lockdown and implemented it. Some would say it was successful. Also, it would be a temporary measure. It is not a permanent state of affairs. Let’s do this for the three months; so the pathogen can sweep through the population and produce herd immunity.
“It should rise, peak and level off within that time period (three months). All mathematical models would agree. This is what we have observed in many countries. I would be confident in saying we could have a normal Christmas.
“I am secure in my own politics and they don’t align with any libertarian thinking. All of this should stand up outside of any political leanings. The very fact that this is at a space that does not align with my own political thinking is a declaration how fundamental and important that this whole process is.
“I remember one of my daughters saying in mid-March: ‘We are going to go on lockdown’ and I remember saying: ‘No, that simply cannot happen.’ I was thinking what will happen to the person living in the slum? When this did happen, I had to step back and look at the situation scientifically. The two meet in this declaration.
“We should have started thinking about all the damage that could be done or would be done; if we simply went about following the single goal of getting rid or suppressing this virus.
“This one goal has sucked everyone in and created this space where you can virtual signal madly. If we look around; we can see 130 million people who are going to starve to death as a result of this.”
“We look at individual fates; where we need to think of this at the level of community. It should not affect how we control this epidemic.”
- Martin Kulldorff (Harvard University)
“In public health you can not only look at one disease but have to look at public health broadly. The strategy we have used for COVID-19 has not been good for COVID-19 but has generated enormous collateral damage on other public health.
“Plummeting vaccination rates, less cancer screening, mental health problems and so on. It is important to have an alternative way to approach COVID-19. People have been saying this since March but have often been dismissed. So, we were thinking of coming together, three scientists from reasonably respected universities, to sign a declaration urging the world to look into a different approach that might have a good effect.
“We do a better job protecting all the people in high-risk groups; while we let children and younger adults live their lives normally; going to in-person schools and universities.
“If we do nothing, some old and some young get infected and we will have a lot of death. If we protect everyone equally; then eventually we will have some older people and some younger people getting infected. If we do a targeted strategy that protects the elderly and allows younger people to live normal lives—then there will be fewer deaths.
“In nursing homes, use staff that have immunity and do frequent testing for staff and visitors and have less turn-over for staff. For older people in the workforce 60 years old, they should work from home. For instance, an older teacher or older professor should help other teachers or with grading. But there is no reason that a teacher in their 30s or 40 should work from home.
“This is a world-wide issue and we view it as a world-wide pandemic that has to be dealt with the whole world in our mindset. As a public health scientist, we propose the best strategy, irrespective of political considerations. The population has to have trust in the public health scientists. We live in this world together and we also share the virus together.
“The overall strategy is to protect the elderly while the young live their own lives. But nobody should be forced. If a 25-year-old person wishes to isolate themselves in a cabin in the mountains; they should be able to do so. If parents want to be homeschooling their children, they can do so. If they want to or not, that is up to them.
“We are protecting lower-risk college students and lower-risk professionals who can work from home at the same time; all the working class people have to work because they have to make a living. With the current approach we are protecting low-risk people in the protected class while we are putting the burden of generating immunity on the working class and especially on the urban working class.
“While everybody can get infected the risk of death is very different across the ages. It is not like it is twice as dangerous or five times or 10 times. The difference between the older and the youngest is more than 1,000 times mortality. While everyone can get the disease, everybody can get infected, the risk of mortality is very different between the oldest and the youngest and there is more than a 1,000-fold difference.”
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].