Over ten thousand practitioners of medicine and science have signed a bold declaration that calls on governments to overturn their coronavirus strategies to let young people resume their lives.
Penned by Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University and Martin Kulldorff, of Harvard University – they warned of the short and long-term damage of COVID-19 polices pushing for lockdowns to public health worldwide.
Instead, they think countries should look to minimise mortality rates by protecting the vulnerable whilst allowing herd immunity to develop with younger people.
“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,” the Great Barrington Declaration, named after the city it was conjured in, reads.
In order to achieve this, they urged that young, low-risk people should resume life as normal, returning to physical teaching at universities and schools; working in offices as oppose to homes; that restaurants and businesses should open; and activities like arts, music and sport should resume.
“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.”
“Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed,” the declaration stressed.
Meanwhile, elderly people and high-risk individuals should be kept a priority in the fight against Covid.
Unsurprisingly, the document has spurred starkly different reactions, with an opposing group in the UK headed by another Oxford scientist Prof Trish Greenhalgh, saying it’s unrealistic to cut off all vulnerable people from society.
And as COVID-19 fatalities pass the grim one million milestone, countries are deliberating whether they can brace more lockdown measures until a cure is found. Several European states have already reinstated more restrictions in response to soaring active cases, from closing down bars in Paris to full lockdown in cities like Madrid.
Malta had closed down its own clubs and banned mass gatherings in response to the growing number of cases in August.
Lovin Malta has reached out to Superintendent of Public Health about the declaration but has not received a reply.
What do you think about the document?