Epidemiologists and public health scientists release petition against lockdowns for COVID-19

The Great Barrington Declaration, written by scientists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, declares that the lockdown strategies used in many countries have failed and instead proposes a more targeted approached called “Focused Protection.”

Many scientists and public health experts have pointed out that the lockdowns, in addition to violating basic freedoms, are creating additional hazards for public health, including increases in suicide, depression, drug use and crime.

Thousands of scientists and medical professionals — as well as tens of thousands of members of the general public — have signed the Declaration.

As the petition states:

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.

Some public health officials have stated that the lockdowns may have to last until 2022, but the approach of the scientists who signed the Barrington Declaration shows that lockdowns were never the right solution from the beginning.

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.

Lockdowns are not compassionate. They result in many unnecessary deaths. One UN official estimated that 130 million people could die from starvation because of economic disruptions caused by the lockdowns. As the Barrington Declaration states, the best approach to COVID-19 is to protect the most vulnerable, encourage basic common sense health precautions, and allow the less vulnerable to go about their lives as normal. Some of us have been saying that since March.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

13 thoughts on “Epidemiologists and public health scientists release petition against lockdowns for COVID-19

  1. Hooray for good thinking, Geoff! The current well-intended COVID-19 response methods have resulted in so much individual financial suffering. Let us pray that this knowledge becomes widespread and finds acceptance in state governments.

  2. The only error in this letter, and its egregious, is the reference to using a PCR test. The creator of the PCR process stated before his death that the PCR process should NEVER be used for diagnostic purposes as it is a manufacturing process, not a diagnostic tool. Otherwise, I support this letter.

  3. Brent, the PCR tests are the most common tests right now. However, apparently they are unnecessarily painful and intrusive. Do you have any information on new testing methods that might be just as reliable?

  4. Another test option is a the new rectal swab. Less intrusive. Forgive me, Geoff!

  5. There are no reliable tests! The antibody test, as shown by an epidemiologist, Connecticut, yields 30% false positives and 20% false negatives. The other issue is no one can honestly claim to have isolated the alleged virus. The Gold Standard would be to extract tissue from 1000 individuals observed suffering from the “disease”, subject those tissue samples to examination under electron microscopes, identify common structures found in each sample, extract that structure, infect 1000 healthy individuals with the presumed infectious sample and see if the disease occurs. Has this been done? No! So, if they cannot positively identify exactly what is causing the disease–note I am not calling the disease a hoax–then how can they develop an accurate test or even a vaccine?

  6. Thanks Geoff for this enlightening information. My musings:
    • I feel that something like this is a better way to go than what we are doing, but I’m afraid this proposal may be swinging the pendulum too far the other way.
    • The proposal is interesting and has a lot of good points, but may not be taken seriously because the proposal doesn’t provide enough details of how they would mitigate what looks like at first glance to be throwing the elderly and compromised under the bus.
    • The proposal is essentially saying, “Let’s sacrifice those who are older and those with underlying health conditions for the rest of the population. This compromised group can hunker down and do the best they can, while the rest keep the economy going, and work toward herd immunity and a vaccine. This group will have to do their best to remain safe from an increased risk from what they had in the past, as those they did associate with will be more likely to bring home the virus in the future. There will be many who don’t know they are compromised, until it is too late, and there are those comprised who cannot survive not working. They will just have to take their chances.”
    • In essentially a complete reopening of the country, the elderly would be locked down and isolated even more than they are now, because to them their communities would be more unsafe than they are now, since everyone else in the community would not be wearing masks or social distancing and would be spreading the virus amongst themselves at will, in hopes to reach heard immunity. This puts the elderly and compromised more at risk of the collateral damages of lockdown.
    • The proposal spends time showing how nursing homes could be handled, but only 3.2% of those over 65 yrs are in nursing homes. (There are about 1.7 million nursing home residents in the US. There are 52 million people over 65 yrs in the US.)
    • The idea that the compromised individuals in isolation could visit their loved ones outdoors doesn’t work that well during winter in the northern half of the US and some of the compromised can’t even go outdoors making the idea in any climate or season unworkable for them. Nonetheless, the idea could reduce risk sufficiently for many.
    • No approaches for how to protect multi-generational households was given. What is expected to happen when Johnny comes home from a now “hotter” virus environment to grandma’s care? She felt only marginally safe before, but what about now?
    • Teachers and workers of all kinds who cannot socially distance at work and who have underlying conditions and are, say at least 50 yrs old, would need to quit their job or accept the likelihood of acquiring COVID, prior to herd immunity or a vaccine, and that if they do get COVID their chance of dying from it are 1 in 5 (average rate of all those who are compromised). A solution would be to retire all these people for life, which would seem to be a small cost compared to what we’ve already spent on COVID.

  7. Very little about the Rona can be said to be certain. And when that kind of uncertainty exists, society must choose freedom.

  8. One solution for those needing protection would be to drop the FDA/CDC ban on HCQ. HCQ is an anti-malarial drug. It is widely distributed in Africa. If you research COVID 19 in Africa, particularly in malaria areas where HCQ is widely distributed, you find that there are very few serious cases or deaths. Distribute HCQ to those who need it and drop the insane isolation restrictions. I’ll take clinical experience over the so-called “research studies” any day. Why? Far too often the “research studies” are constructed with a particular outcome in mind and are not honest.

  9. Geoff in regard to testing methods, last night my brother was tested for Covid using a cheek swab inside of his mouth. We don’t have that test in New Mexico — only the q-tip up the nose to scrape your brain. My brother’s test was also a rapid test. He had the results in 20 mins. The doctor also said the anti-body tests are kind of pointless, because if you’ve had the flu or a cold (both corona viruses) it will mimic that you’ve had Covid.

  10. Several commenters have claimed it is compassionate and humanitarian to continue the lockdowns. I have deleted some of these comments because they are incredibly hard-hearted and/or take this post in a direction I do not want it to go. But if you favor lockdowns, you are a heartless tyrant. Check out this story for part of the reason why:


    GREELEY — Waving signs that read such things as “I’d rather die of COVID than loneliness,” and “We are prisoners in our home,” residents of one nursing facility staged their own anti-lockdown protest along one of the busiest streets in Greeley, directly across the street from the city’s largest and longest operating hospital.

    “Freedom, freedom, freedom,” one lady chanted while waving a sign that read “we want our families back.”

    The protest against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Gov. Jared Polis’ mandates that do not allow nursing home residents to see their loved ones, was thought up, organized and carried out by the residents, with oversight from their nurses and other staff members, said the Assistant Administrator of Fairacres Manor Ben Gonzales.

    Gonzales said the facility has a resident council that meets monthly to discuss things that are on residents’ minds. They usually discuss caregivers, things they’d like to do, or offer suggestions, among other things.

    However, recently, they brought up the idea of protesting the lockdown as they enter their eighth month of no hugs, no smiles, no kisses from their loved ones.

    “We are here to support our residents,” Gonzales said. “If they want to get their voices heard, they have rights just like we should have rights as well. We wanted to make sure that they were able to express those.”

    Gonzales said the staff made sure the residents were all placed six feet apart on the grass across from the entrance to North Colorado Medical Center, along a busy 16th Street in the center of town. They were wearing masks and each one had their own member of the staff nearby. The nurses and other personnel were also in all the appropriate personal protection equipment required for their jobs.

    Hospital administration who happened to hear of the protest, applauded their efforts and took time to go across the street as well.

    One woman, who was not from Greeley, but happened to be at the hospital during the protest yelled across the street “tell them to let you out of jail.”

    She identified herself only as a nursing home administrator in another community. She said has seen more deaths due to depression among her residents since the pandemic than she has COVID itself, blaming mandates and restrictions more than the virus.

    “The isolation is what kills these people,” she said. “It’s just incredibly sad that they can’t live out the last part of their lives with their family surrounding them.”

    Gonzales agreed. He said although the homes are now preparing for indoor visits as the weather gets colder, residents will still not be able to touch or hug their loved ones.

    “But that’s what they need,” Gonzales said. “They need that physical contact, to hug their grandchildren.”

    Gonzales agreed some of the signs they created were tough to read.

    “We as staff members get to go see our family and our loved ones,” Gonzales said. “So, it’s tough when they don’t get to do that. We are held to standards by the government and the state health department. But it’s very understandable. I feel for them. I can’t imagine what they are going through. So, it’s nice to be able to support them in this way. We are here to come together and to support each other.”

    Weld County Commissioner Scott James stopped by the facility to lend his support for the protest as well. He said his heart breaks for all the residents of Fairacres and every other facility like it in Colorado.

    “They are members of the greatest generation,” James said. “The very generation who fought to overturn tyranny and protect our freedoms. Now these members of that generation have had their freedom taken away via a tyrannous act by unelected bureaucrats. The governor and the CDPHE should immediately work with these facilities to give them a way by which they may hug their loved ones.”

  11. Geoff, I have a 39 year-old son who lives with his family in Stafford, Virginia. We are visiting there in two weeks, and when I asked him about COVID cautions, he said that the vicious virus is not a matter of chatter there. They have had nationally record-low infections with no lockdowns. People are prudent/not panicked there in his sector of the country. And it has worked for them. He’s up on things; he works for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

  12. Glen, yes, if people actually follow the science and look at the history of past pandemics, they will respond in a more rational and humane way.

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