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.

Dr. John Powell, M.D., is a family medicine doctor at Evergreen Family Medicine in Roseburg.

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(40) comments

doubletrouble

I got seen by this guy at urgent care once and he smelled weird. His letter also stinks.

CitizenJoe

Yeah. Sweden's just peachy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/11/18/sweden-coronavirus-surge-policy/

Mike

Dr. Powell,

Have you infected your family and yourself with coronavirus yet? Prove to everyone you aren't a hypocrite and get that Herd Immunity ball rolling. It shouldn't be hard to become infected now that you have an outbreak among your employees at Evergreen. Just hang around with them until you get infected and then take it home and infect your entire family. After that, call a Board of Directors meeting and give coronavirus to every Director since they all support Herd Immunity also. Failing to do so makes you a hypocrite and proves your agenda is all about the money.

Sappy

It seems that none of the comments on Dr Powells commentary address the points that he made. I don't know what the qualifications of any of the commenters are. It seems to me that Dr Powell is a physician and is a thoughtful person who is giving his position as an alternative to what has been happening. Don't forget that we have been told don't wear a mask by several major figures before we were told to wear a mask. We have been told many things. Every country has tried different approaches with different twists on them. Some have had draconian lockdowns with masking etc. Some have been more open such as Sweden. The virus seems to ebb and flow. One week you hear that a country is doing better and then despite lockdowns and more harsh measures a country such as Spain or others have a resurgence in cases. Some of the things that have been said are nonsensical. The fact is that the virus is going to make its way throughout society. Why doesn't it make sense to try to protect the most vulnerable among society. Dr Powell's logic and thoughts were not addressed in any of these comments. There is a cost to locking down society beyond the pandemic. Peoples lives have been decimated. Yes there have been many lives lost due to Covid. Peoples lives have been affected negatively in many other ways. The President and his family were infected and recovered thank you. So many seem to think that being infected is a death sentence. 10 to 1 that all the above commenters are Biden people.

Mike

I'm not a Biden person and I'm certainly not a Trump person.....anymore. There's a difference. Just because I didn't vote for Trump doesn't make me a Biden person.

Mike

Faced with the reality of a winter surge, Sweden is finally bringing in some harsher restrictions after months of being one of the few countries with no lockdown.

https://www.businessinsider.com/sweden-brings-in-regional-measures-cases-surge-2020-11

Baulderdash52

Thank you to everyone who has commented intelligently and with credible sources regarding the fallacious opinion of Dr. John Powell.

fromskyview

I am appalled at this article, and sorry for what it will do to the reputation of Evergreen. I have been a patient there for the 21 years I've lived in Douglas County.

S

Wow . . . quackery is alive and well in Douglas County! So glad that Evergreen is not on our list of "advanced," medical facilities. This Dr. Powell is a bit scary as a healer and physician. DO NO HARM? Where's does that come into play in his world? Sweden's experiment isn't all that great and they are reconsidering their approach. https://time.com/5901352/sweden-local-lockdowns/

Mike

Actually.....Evergreen is owned by Mercy Medical Center, which itself has had at least two coronavirus workplace outbreaks.

mworden

Although I extremely dislike Dr. Powell's opinion piece, I want to thank the News-Review for publishing it. My family and I are patients at Evergreen. That makes us stakeholders. Evergreen serves thousands of patients in Roseburg and Douglas County through their family practice, urgent care facility, lab and x-ray departments. We have a right to know the philosophy behind the clinic where we receive our care. The N-R served one of the finest functions of a community newspaper by publishing this opinion piece and then allowing us to comment on it.

The most shocking bit of info for me, as a patient at Evergreen, is that this is not Dr. Powell going off on his own -- he said the board of directors unanimously supports this approach. That shocks me.

The second thing that shocks me is that he's trying to pass this off as science, agreed upon by academic experts with the highest credentials. He says, "Ideology and politics have no place in science." Then he goes on to promote the Great Barrington Declaration.

Does he not know that the Great Barrington Declaration was put out by a Libertarian economic think tank? Does he not know that Libertarianism is a political philosophy that abhors any governmental interference of any kind on personal freedom? You know, like mandates on mask-wearing in public during a pandemic. The most extreme Libertarians would say 220,000 dead is the price we have to pay for our unalienable right to party on as normal. And they would justify that by claiming it would bring us quickly to herd immunity. And they would believe that's a good thing as the hospitals become overwhelmed and the morgues fill up and tens of thousands of survivors suffer long-term disability.

That doesn't seem at all compatible with a doctor's oath to do no harm.

This focused protection of older people and people with underlying disorders. How would that be accomplished? C'mon, Dr. Powell. You can't promote an ideological declaration from a think tank and then not provide details of how this plan would work. Do we lock down grandma and everyone with asthma or what? I actually don't think there is a plan at all. An ideological declaration does not require a plan. It's a declaration of ideas and beliefs. This declaration promoted the ideas and beliefs embraced by the Libertarian political party.

Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate for president, says about wearing masks, "This is a free country, and we should be able to make our own decisions."

By itself, saying we have the right to make our own decisions appeals to the very spirit of America as a beacon of freedom in the world. But when you put it into the context of undergoing some personal inconvenience in order to save lives, keep the hospitals functional, open the schools and save the economy, it sounds about as meaningful as a cranky 15 year old shouting that mom's not the boss of them.

According to the 10-16-20 edition of Reason Magazine, "The Libertarian ticket is campaigning against lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and the World Health Organization." That's their right. But it's not science, it's politics.

I'm disappointed that Dr. Powell thought he could weave some fancy words into a shape where we couldn't notice that he's promoting a political agenda, not a medical or scientific one. It's beyond insulting.

Mike

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CitizenJoe

mworden: exactly right, again. I'd like to re-emphasize the point that there is no plan to protect the most vulnerable: old people may live with their children and grandchildren, or live in congregate settings, where they are at huge risk; students will expose teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers; and so on; further, there are tens of millions of younger people who have preexisting conditions, many of whom are not even aware that they have those conditions.

None of us is reliably safe from this pandemic. Pretending otherwise is deadly.

S

Thank you for this well thought out and informative response.

NJ

"That doesn't seem at all compatible with a doctor's oath to do no harm." - Could be Powell never actually took an oath to do no harm. The Hippocratic Oath is becoming more a word game played by schools who graduate doctors: https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/21/hippocratic-oath-medical-students-doctors/ One would like to believe doctors working under the Catholic Health Initiative are invested in keeping the living alive, but seems this one is now only interested in playing God.

Mike

Compared to the rest of the world’s lifelong experts on infectious diseases, Dr. Powell’s armchair quarterbacking coronavirus advice is worse than meaningless. Dr. Powell is a big fish in a small Douglas County pond. People do listen to him. And more people will die because of that.

Mike

I wonder how many of the 5 people who have died in Douglas County SO FAR were clients of Evergreen or took their coronavirus advice from Dr. Powell.

melrosereader

The more I think about this column, the angrier I become. Here we have all of the CREDIBLE epidemiologists and infection control experts pleading with people to wear masks, avoid crowds, wash hands, and maintain social distances.

Then we have this guy, a physician for crying out loud, spouting this irresponsible and ineffective theory, playing into this whole herd immunity nonsense, as if he was Ammon Bundy.

Well this physician is entitled to his opinion of course. But that the News Review should publish it in a place where county commissioners and state senators are running around without masks and blabbering about "freedom" to make your own choice about wearing a mask is unconscionable.

Rant over.

Robert Heilman

Personally, I found this to be very poorly written, nearly incomprehensible in fact. I did figure out that this doctor seems to favor "herd immunity' but his vague and abstract manner of writing was definitely a hindrance to effectively getting his point across.

fromskyview

Agreed.. Hard to find his points in the word salad.

Mike

Imagine how his prescriptions used to read before he became a politician.

CitizenJoe

Dr. Powell: "Ideology and politics have no place in science."

Pres. Trump: "Fauci is a disaster," and the other scientific advisers are "idiots," while he (Trump) is a "very stable genius," who had a MIT prof as an uncle, so he, Trump has a natural ability in science, and the doctors are all amazed at how much he knows.

TL/DR version: Trump has no place in science. Or the White House.

Katherine Vejtasa

Most controversially, the herd immunity strategy outlined in a document called the "Great Barrington Declaration," which calls for allowing the virus to spread among lower-risk, younger people to build up immunity while having “focused protection” on older, high-risk people.

Many leading experts have denounced that approach as leading to hundreds of thousands of more deaths as the virus circulates freely. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated last week that the herd immunity strategy would lead to at least 500,000 more deaths.

mworden

[thumbup]

CitizenJoe

AAAS: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/10/it-s-been-so-so-surreal-critics-sweden-s-lax-pandemic-policies-face-fierce-backlash

CitizenJoe

Here is a thoughtful critique:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/19/opinion/coronavirus-herd-immunity.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

melrosereader

The New York Times piece is by John Barry who wrote the book about the 1918 influenza epidemic. The book, by the way, is interesting and available at the library. Mr. Barry is the author of “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History."

melrosereader

Next up from the News Review- a guest column extolling the evils of vaccination. /s

CitizenJoe

Here is a nice comparison of Sweden's and other countries' march of death: https://time.com/5899432/sweden-coronovirus-disaster/

CitizenJoe

In fairness, that Barrington Bull pucky did contain one germ (ahem!) of truth: “We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity”, it stated. And it is true: for example, rabbits in Australia were infected with a myxovirus; it killed 99% of the population, at which point it reached herd immunity. 1% survived, and reproduced. Of course, with regards to some diseases and some populations, stabilization occurs at zero survivors.

Look: we know that SARS-CoV-2 is not going to kill us all--or even 99%--or even 10%. But achieving herd immunity through infection rather than immunization will cost America a few million lives. Why kill people when a vaccine (actually, maybe a dozen vaccines) loom so close? And when masks, distancing, washing and testing will save lives until then?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/18/covid-herd-immunity-funding-bad-science-anti-lockdown

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/tom-frieden-herd-immunity-wrong-solution-coronavirus/2020/10/16/acb4ae8a-0fe6-11eb-8074-0e943a91bf08_story.html

CitizenJoe

This is utterly bogus. Let's compare two exceeding similar countries, Sweden and Norway. Sweden, population 10,343,403; positives 103,200; dead 5918 = 57.2/100,000. Norway, population 5,432,580; positives 16,429; dead 278 = 5.1/100,000. A Norwegian has had less than 1/10th the probability of dying of COVID-19 than has had a Swede. Or an American. This Barrington nonsense is to epidemiology as the Carrington event was to electronics. Barrington:epidemiology::Carrington:electronics

melrosereader

The website promotes something called herd immunity.

Herd immunity with a disease such as COVID-19 requires that 70 percent of the population become immune. With a current population of 330 million, this means 230 million Americans must contract the disease, recover, and become immune. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on whether those recovering from COVID-19 gain long-term immunity.

Case mortality in the U.S. is currently 2.9 percent. Assuming that this death rate applies to those Americans contracting the disease, over 6 million of us must die.

The news Review is irresponsible in printing this guest column.

mworden

Allow me to provide a quick summary: You should trust my appeal to authority ... blahblahblah ... mostly old people die so why should the rest of us be inconvenienced ... blahblahblah ... this is science not politics ... blahblahblah ... the federal response in the USA has been a complete cluster so we should follow Sweden ... blahblahblah ... not even going to mention long term disability or questions about reinfection ... blahblah.

Mike

You forgot the part: Do what I say because many more people will get sick and the funeral homes and I will make a lot more money.

mworden

Oh, Mike, I forgot a lot of things. For example, the Great Barrington Declaration was put out by a Libertarian economic think tank three weeks before an important national election. That, in itself, makes it a political declaration, backed by some academic types, rather than a sincere scientifically thought-out recommendation for the public health of the nation. A Libertarian think tank does not get to call itself non-political any more than if the recommendations came from the Republican National Committee in support of President Trump's re-election.

If the writers of the Barringtion Declaration wanted to make the biggest impact to help America cope with the pandemic they would have waited until the day after the election. That way they could avoid being branded political hacks hiding behind academic credentials. Their findings could have had a much more meaningful impact on the national discussion. But, no. The Libertarian economic think tank decided to come out with their version of an "October Surprise" instead.

Interesting side note: The city of Great Barrington is denouncing the declaration from the Libertarian think tank located there. They intend to continue with covid precautions. It just goes to show, you can't always choose your neighbors.

Mike

[thumbup]

CitizenJoe

mworden: exactly. The group behind this also does tobacco denialism and AGW denialism. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/18/covid-herd-immunity-funding-bad-science-anti-lockdown

NJ

"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." And we all know why. I believe that one person most certainly will be judged harshly for being the cause. Academic and public health institutions were knee-capped from having any credibility for months while one person's mealy-mouthed agenda did nothing but cause confusion.

And then, there's this: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/10/super-antigen-tied-multisystem-inflammatory-syndrome-children-long-covid/

It seems all herd immunity means is that we lose our beloved elders and worry about what conditions our children will suffer during their lifetime. And if nothing else let us please never again allow our leader to put us in such life threatening harm solely on their own mental incompetence.

Oh yes, and: https://time.com/5899432/sweden-coronovirus-disaster/

TJ

[thumbup]

mworden

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