Lockdowns: The Great Debate

November 6, 2020

Tonight, the Journal of the American Medical Association is finally permitting some debate on lockdowns on their very influential YouTube channel. The debate will be between Harvard’s lockdown architect Dr. Marc Lipsitch and Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya of Stanford, one of three primary authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. It will be moderated by Dr. Howard Bauchner, who is the editor of JAMA and a busy podcaster who hosts regular video updates from Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Already the odds here are stacked against Dr. Bhattacharya. The title of the debate has been declared to be “Herd Immunity as a Coronavirus Pandemic Strategy.” The authors of the Declaration have stated many times that herd immunity is not a strategy. It is a bio-probabilistic reality of how pandemics become endemic (predictable and manageable) in a population.

As the FAQ on the site clearly states:

Is the Great Barrington Declaration advocating a ‘herd immunity strategy’?

No. Those making such claims in the media have either (i) not read the document, (ii) do not understand the basic principles of infectious disease epidemiology, or (iii) are willfully distorting the public health message for political purposes. For COVID-19, all strategies lead to herd immunity, making it nonsensical to denote one specific approach as a herd immunity strategy just as it does not make sense for airplane pilots to talk about a “gravity strategy” for safely landing a plane. The Declaration advocates a strategy that minimizes mortality until herd immunity is reached. That is done by minimizing the number of older high-risk people in the group that get infected while maximizing them among those that are still uninfected when herd immunity arrives.

Nonetheless, the venue chooses the title and sets the terms. Even given all of this, for many people who follow this venue, it will be the first time that many viewers will have discovered that there is a serious scientific and medical alternative to lockdowns, which have been so enormously devastating to public health the world over. In January few people in the world imagined that governments had the power and will to shut down schools, businesses, churches, concert venues, and travel, limit access to routine medical care, while ordering people to stay in their homes and only be outside during certain times during the day.

The global lockdowns, on this scale with this level of stringency, have been without precedent. And yet we have examples of a handful of countries and US states that did not do this, and their record in minimizing the cost of the pandemic is better than the lockdown countries and states. The evidence that the lockdowns have done net good in terms of public health is still lacking.

You can watch the debate at 4:20 Eastern Time, from this link or from YouTube directly.

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