The authors of this declaration will probably achieve their goal: they have already won around 475,000 signatories, and it should be a million – and that will be easy. Because the “Great Barrington Declaration”, which was put online at the beginning of October, is currently being enthusiastically celebrated online by opponents of the corona measures. Several thousand signers join every hour.
The reason for the enthusiasm: The authors of the declaration offer a supposed way out of the unpleasant side effects of the pandemic, and they are also professors from the world-famous universities of Oxford, Harvard and Stanford. The three of them complain that the measures have already caused too much suffering: children received fewer vaccinations, heart disease no longer received the right treatment and mental illnesses increased. The young members of society in particular would have to bear the consequences for years to come. Your solution: “focused protection”. Young, healthy people should finally live their lives again and thus enable society to be infected with Sars-CoV-2 towards herd immunity; the elderly and the sick, on the other hand, should be watched out for.
But whether you call it “focused protection” or “herd immunity”: This strategy was discussed at the beginning of the pandemic – and quickly discarded. In Europe, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Sweden considered going this route. But they left when their case and death rates skyrocketed. Unlike planned, the infections also affected the elderly and the vulnerable.
The theses of the authors have already been refuted by colleagues
The three authors hardly write anything about how they want to prevent this in their declaration that fits on one page. In any case, the biostatistician Martin Kulldorff (Harvard), the epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta (Oxford) and the public health expert Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford) remain astonishingly vague. All three had already attracted attention in the past few months with bold theses about the pandemic that other scientists had torn apart.
Sunetra Gupta claimed in a widely criticized paper in March that half of the British population was already infected with the virus and thus immune. A significant misjudgment, as tests have now shown. To date, since Sars-CoV-2 has already claimed 43,000 lives in Great Britain, less than ten percent of the population has developed antibodies against it. This gives an idea of the consequences if the virus could spread relatively unhindered: “Herd immunity would cost 400,000 lives in Germany,” calculates Karl Lauterbach – “at least”. This way is “completely unethical”, so the epidemiologist and SPD health expert.
“Unethical and simply not feasible” is how Robert Lechler calls the approach, the President of the British Academy of Medical Sciences. It is not at all possible to protect such a large group of people sustainably without exposing them to considerable risks, he writes in a paper that he wrote because of the Great Barrington Declaration – out of concern. In addition, the virus is by no means harmless for the young and fit. They too can become seriously ill – and suffer long-term consequences such as chronic exhaustion and mental losses even if they are mild.
Nevertheless, the declaration met with broad support. In addition to more than 400,000 “concerned citizens”, they have already supported around 25,000 doctors and almost 10,000 scientists from medicine and public health – at least that is how the undersigned classify themselves. However, there are a lot of bizarre identities in the group of alleged scientists. The British broadcaster Sky found “Dr. Person Fakename” on the list, “Dr. Johnny Bananas, doctor for hard sums” or “Dr. IP Freely”, “I pee freely”.
The think tank in Great Barrington is co-financed by climate deniers
When asked why no more careful attention is being paid to who signs the declaration, Jay Bhattacharya replied to the Sky broadcaster: “We don’t have enough resources to check every signature.”
Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, however, believes that there is calculation behind it. The longer the list of alleged scientific supporters becomes, the more it looks as if a considerable proportion of the scientific community is actually in favor of the path to herd immunity. This is not the case. McKee is reminiscent of the methods of the tobacco industry, which has been interfering in the public debate for decades, downplaying smoking, passive smoking and e-cigarettes one after the other.
So it is not surprising that the declaration was signed in Great Barrington, Massachusetts of all places – at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) located there. Its donors include the US oil billionaire Charles Koch, a notorious denier of climate change, and his foundation has already donated at least a five-figure sum. In addition, the institute benefits from its own investments in oil and tobacco companies, among others. The declared aim of the think tank is to promote a “truly free society”, “with free markets and a limited government”. In other words: The AIER wants to manipulate public opinion – for an unbridled economy. The institute has already issued several reports on the subject of climate change, all of which are trivialized. If you don’t have to worry about the climate, you can continue doing business without scruples. And those who do not fear Corona, too.