We rarely use this space to comment on a foreign matter. But Covid knows no boundaries. And possible solutions to dealing with it and mitigating it should know none either.

There is another issue that should know no boundary. That is opposing censorship. So we thought you needed to know about an international initiative that has either been ignored by much of media, or when reported on always begins with someone criticizing it.

Whatever one’s opinion on government measures on handling the Covid crisis, we think that when some 6,000 leading medical and public health authorities sign on by petition to a statement critical of current measures, it deserves a reading. Not an attack and a burial.

Yet that is exactly what has happened in the two weeks since the Great Barrington Declaration — named after the town of Great Barrington in Massachusetts where it was written — was issued. The document was authored by Oxford University professor Dr. Sunetra Gupta along with Harvard University’s Dr. Martin Kulldorff and Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.

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.

Aside from the medical and public health personnel who have signed, some 58,000 members of the public have added their support in the online petition. The Great Barrington 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.

We are not endorsing the Great Barrington Declaration in any manner. But we do endorse the free flow of information. Particularity at a time when governments are reacting only to infection numbers and not positivity rates; when they ignore hospitalization and death rates that have not moved up commensurately in any manner; when economic and social dislocations have caused unparalleled suffering in the post-World War II era, we should be able to have all the information possible. There has not been such an equal outpouring of support for any existing government policy as Barrington has demonstrated against it. So how can we not at least inform ourselves of this massive opposition. It’s all hands on deck. All ideas should be welcomed.

We thought you should know. You can read the Declaration in full at the following link

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