Ten days ago in the Massachusetts town of Great Barrington, Oxford University professor Dr. Sunetra Gupta along with Harvard University’s Dr. Martin Kulldorff and Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya authored a call to end lockdowns and adopt new strategies against the Covid pandemic. Some 6000 doctors and 58,000 members of the public have signed on through online petition. It has come to be known as the Great Barrington Declaration.
Cosignatories, across disciplines ranging from epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health, through psychiatry and self-harm, to finance and human geography, include Sucharit Bhakdi, Angus Dalgleish, Mike Hulme, David L. Katz, 2013 Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry Michael Levitt, Gülnur Muradoğlu, David Livermore, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, and Karol Sikora
The Declaration opposes general coronavirus lockdown measures. It urges that those not in the at risk categories should be able to get on with their lives as normal, and that lockdown rules in both the US and UK are causing ‘irreparable damage’. It declares that social distancing and mask mandates are causing ‘damaging physical and mental health impacts.’
“Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal,” the Declaration states adding “Keeping these [lockdown] measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”
It continues, “The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular [heart] 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.”
The Declaration adds that, “Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.”
It advocates that, “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.”
Finally, the declaration demands that, “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.”
The declaration dovetails with other statements from around the world.
Just this week the World Health Organization reversed its position and warned against relying on COVID-19 lockdowns to tackle outbreaks. WHO envoy Dr. David Nabarro said,” We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.We’d rather not do it. Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”
Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Muller, recently warned that lockdown measures throughout the globe will end up killing more people than the Coronavirus itself. In an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, Muller warned that the response to the global pandemic has resulted in “one of the biggest” hunger and poverty crises in history.
Annie Janvier, PhD, one of the declaration’s cosigners and a pediatric and clinical ethics professor at the University of Montreal, said that “it’s not science that seems to be leading what’s going on with COVID, it’s public opinion and politics.”
It should be noted that through this crisis there has not been a similarly strong declaration of support for the general global lockdowns — a first in history — anywhere in the world. You can read the Declaration in full at the following link https://gbdeclaration.org
A Suburban exclusive interview with a West Island teacher reveals the need for urgent changes in the framework applied to school staff compensation under the government’s COVID measures.
As the Quebec government has continued to ramp up lockdown measures shortly after re-opening schools, Premier Legault has stated repeatedly in daily announcements that schools will remain open for as long as possible being last on the list for potential closures.
Teachers and students are told that Montreal is now in high alert, dubbed a “red zone” and that emergency measures are being reinstated to reduce the spread of the virus. But as special measures were applied to schools, the individual circumstances of the staffs who run the schools on a day to day basis do not seem to have been fully thought out.
A West Island teacher, one of many, who agreed to speak to The Suburban on the condition of anonymity, was left unpaid for two weeks. No additional COVID related days off were attributed to her situation although related to COVID as it did not fall into one of the acceptable COVID related categories as dictated to her in an e-brochure provided to her by the school for which she works. According to the brochure, having to stay home to care for her own child when the daycare which her child attended was shut down suddenly when daycare employees tested positive for COVID-19, does not constitute as a COVID related reason to take time off work with pay.
The consideration for what days off can be attributed to COVID related issues is lacking in the framework for measures applied to the frontline workers in schools. Also, included in those days off, according to the framework, unless the teacher tests positive for COVID-19 themselves or is caring for a person at home who has tested positive for COVID, it incorporates using regular sick days and personal days. As a result of being moved in and out of the classrooms due to COVID related issues, many teachers have run out of paid off-work days entirely in the six-weeks since schools have re-opened.
For the rest of the school year, any additional sick days or personal days that do not fall into the COVID measure categories as laid out in the brochure will result in loss of pay. With flu season up ahead and with their ongoing regular need for personal days, many teachers are frustrated with the force of circumstances that they are expected to adhere to with seemingly an incomplete compensation scheme that leaves many without — or with less — pay.