Today’s Wall Street Journal features a favorable write-up, by Tunku Varadarajan, of an interview with Martin Kuldorff and Jay Bhattacharya, two of the three authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. A slice:
Lockdown policies are not only “regressive,” with their disparate impact on the poor and minorities; they reflect, Dr. Bhattacharya says, a “sort of monomania.” The world “panicked in March, and the focus came to just be on Covid control and nothing else.” People saw pictures from Wuhan, China, and Bergamo, Italy, and concluded that they had to do “something very, very drastic in order to address this drastic thing that’s happening.” There was “an action bias that led to the adoption of lockdowns as a form of contagion itself.” (There is an academic paper that models the lockdown-contagion idea, titled “Explaining the homogenous diffusion of Covid-19 nonpharmaceutical interventions across heterogeneous countries.”)
Mr. Kulldorff says the Covid-19 restrictions violate two cardinal principles of public health. First, “you can’t just look at Covid, you have to look holistically at health and consider the collateral damage.” Among the damage: a worsening incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer and an alarming decline in immunization. “People aren’t going to the doctor,” he says. Dr. Bhattacharya also points to the suspension of tuberculosis programs in India and of malaria-eradication programs elsewhere.
Mr. Kulldorff’s second principle: “You can’t just look short-term.” Dr. Bhattacharya says we will “be counting the health harms from these lockdowns for a very long time.” He says anti-Covid efforts are sowing the seeds of other epidemics: “Pertussis—whooping cough—will come back. Polio will come back because of the cessation of vaccination campaigns. All these diseases that we’ve made substantial progress in will start to come back.”
Drs. Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kuldorff defend their Great Barrington Declaration against the swirl of misrepresentation and misunderstanding that has surrounded it since its release on October 4th. A slice:
The “Focused Protection” plan in the Great Barrington Declaration would minimize both COVID-19 mortality and lockdown-induced collateral damage on other health outcomes. In line with pre-2020 pandemic preparedness plans, the declaration calls for better protecting the old and other high-risk groups, for whom COVID-19 is more dangerous than influenza.
By contrast, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than influenza. Children and low-risk young adults should be allowed to live near normal lives as they face greater medical, psychological and economic harms from lockdowns than from COVID-19. Immunity among low-risk young adults could also shorten the length of the pandemic, making it easier for older people to protect themselves.
Barry Brownstein is correct: tyranny is fueled by mindlessness. (Nothing in America during in my lifetime has been as mindless as has the response to covid-19.) A slice:
Importantly, those who want to turn over responsibility to experts often deny the freedom of others to choose. When others make different decisions and stay healthy, they are reminded they have a choice. Since they don’t want to know they have a choice, they will insist that government violently force you to follow their way. And to justify their support for coercive actions, they will mindlessly dehumanize those who don’t follow the instructions.