Academia has finally arrived and found the courage to remind public health policymakers of fundamental principles essential to protecting the health of all citizens. Ideology and politics have no place in science. Yet, public health officials and academic institutions have suppressed their colleague’s observations and misrepresented critical pandemic data. As a result, opportunities to share insightful perspectives were lost and fear dominated. Media complied as it hyped both that fear and myopic doctrine, while revealing an incredible lack of curiosity.
On Oct. 4, three epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford met in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to present and sign a declaration for a focused protection pandemic strategy. The declaration represents a proper blending of ethics, viral research, and reclaims traditional public health methods. Five days after the declaration was released, it gained signatures from 6,252 medical and public health scientists, 13,016 medical practitioners and 177,039 members of the general public.
The website appears to be carefully vetting the signatures of the declaration since there have been saboteurs of the website, apparently to discredit the level of professional support. However, science is not forced consensus or controlled by bureaucrats. It needs to be free to follow the evidence.
Public health institutions on the international, national, state and local levels have betrayed a critical trust when they lost sight of their primary purpose to advocate for the health of the entire population. Instead of prioritizing a goal of reducing total harm during this pandemic, they chased metrics of questionable value and misallocated resources. Policy directives have been promoted on weak observational evidence while higher quality research that demonstrated critical viral characteristics lingered in preprint status; especially when it did not confirm existing policy bias.
History will judge our academic and public health institutions’ response during this pandemic harshly. During a time when our country needed unity, we received harmful and divisive policy mandates.
The Great Barrington Declaration represents a much more reasonable and overdue approach to respond to this virus. In March, COVID-19 was endemic in all 50 states, and the opportunity for containment was over. Viral age-severity differentials were obvious. We appealed to our public health authorities and political leaders to consider a more targeted approach to mitigate viral transmission to our most vulnerable. We did not receive a formal response to our suggestions. What we did receive were OSHA and OHA inspections of our facilities and protocols.
Our communities have waited too long for our public health institutions to follow the science over speculative modeling. The Focused Protection approach is unanimously supported by the Board of Directors at Evergreen Family Medicine. Critics of the declaration have suggested that it does not provide enough details of implementation.
My response to them is to follow Sweden’s policies. As of this past Thursday, according to worldometers.info/coronavirus, Sweden had fewer deaths per capita than the U.S. and approximately half the number of deaths per 1 million residents (584) than New Jersey (1,838), New York (1,719), Massachusetts (1,403), Connecticut (1,273), Louisiana (1,228), Rhode Island (1,085) and Mississippi (1,059). Sweden’s population is more than 10 million people, but the nation has experienced fewer than two deaths per day from COVID-19 for the past 10 weeks.
If you agree with the declaration, please sign it to encourage your public health officials and politicians to “follow the science.” The link to the declaration and 30-minute interview by an outstanding video journalist with the three politically diverse scientists can be found here: https://unherd.com/2020/10/covid-experts-there-is-another-way/
The link can also be found on the Evergreen Family Medicine website at: www.efmpc.com under the COVID response tab.