Over 13,000 medical and public health scientists sign on to Great Barrington Declaration

FILE - This file photo from Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, shows a student wearing a face mask while doing work at his desk at the Post Road Elementary School in White Plains, N.Y. Teachers unions called Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, for New York to shutter schools as the state reverses course on a policy to switch to remote-learning in regions that reach 9% positivity. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Over 13,000 scientists and over 39,000 health care practitioners have signed on to a focused protection document titled the Great Barrington Declaration.

The three doctors who wrote the declaration are: Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations; Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases; and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations.

“The Declaration was written from a global public health and humanitarian perspective, with special concerns about how the current COVID-19 strategies are forcing our children, the working class and the poor to carry the heaviest burden,” the declaration’s about page reads. “The response to the pandemic in many countries around the world, focused on lockdowns, contact tracing and isolation, imposes enormous unnecessary health costs on people. In the long run, it will lead to higher COVID and non-COVID mortality than the focused protection plan we call for in the Declaration.”

The document criticizes what it calls enormous unnecessary health costs of lockdowns, contact tracing and isolation. The aim of focused protection, according to the declaration, is to minimize overall mortality from both COVID-19 and other diseases by balancing the need to protect high-risk individuals from COVID-19 while reducing the harm that lockdowns have had on other aspects of medical care and public health.

“It recognizes that public health is concerned with the health and well-being of populations in a broader way than just infection control,” say the authors.

In a Nov. 25 open letter, Bhattacharya, Gupta, and Kulldorff say that the declaration “is not a herd immunity strategy” but instead says everyone should take basic precautions to avoid spreading the disease and that no one should intentionally expose themselves to COVID-19 infection.

They go on to say zero COVID is impossible and herd immunity is the endpoint regardless of lockdowns or focused protection.

“In the long run, lockdowns will lead to higher COVID and non-COVID mortality than the focused protection plan we call for in the Declaration,” the document states.