Ten months after the first reported COVID-19 outbreak, 4,000 scientists have warned that the non-vulnerable should return to a normal way of living – with experts from highly regarded institutions around the world supporting a petition.
The anti-lockdown petition, known as the Great Barrington declaration, has amassed a huge 40,000 signatures – with support from both experts and the general public all over the world.
Among the experts are academics from institutions such as Oxford University, Cambridge, Nottingham, York, St George’s University of London and many more – with each calling for a ‘herd immunity’ approach to the pandemic, saying it would be the most “compassionate” approach for those in good health.
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 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
“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. Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.
“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 minimise 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.”
The UK government has previously been criticised for its brief interest in pursuing a ‘herd immunity’ approach to the virus, which quickly resulted in the nationwide lockdown which lasted from March to July.
Dr Rossman, expert in virology at the University of Kent said of the declaration: “Unfortunately, this declaration ignores three critical aspects that could result in significant impacts to health and lives.
“First, we still do not know if herd immunity is possible to achieve. Herd immunity relies on lasting immunological protection from coronavirus re-infection; however, we have heard many recent cases of re-infection occurring and some research suggests protective antibody responses may decay rapidly.
“Second, the declaration focuses only on the risk of death from Covid-19 but ignores the growing awareness of long Covid, that many healthy young adults with mild infections are experiencing protracted symptoms and long-term disability.
“Third, countries that have forgone lockdown restrictions in favour of personal responsibility and focused protection of the elderly, such as Sweden, were not able to successfully protect the vulnerable population.”