The Great Barrington Declaration

(Bob M) #1

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

This is part of The Great Barrington Declaration.

I have to say, it seems like garbage to me. I am 56 with idiopathic (they don’t know what caused it) dilated cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart), started 7.5 years ago. I assume I’m at higher risk for covid. Where I live, I’m “essential”, so my boss REQUIRES me to go to work. How can I have “focused protection”?

In my town, a 55 yo male got covid. Spent 12 days in the ICU and 52 days in the hospital.

I listen to This Week in Virology, and each week, they have an update provided by Dr. David Griffin, NYC, with over 1,700 covid patient interactions. He related a story of a 55 yo male in NYC who (just recently) went to a wake for one of his relatives. He caught covid and died.

Again, how do I protect myself under this “Focused Protection”?

You can listen to virologists who take this apart:

We know of a person. This person dates an older man. She’s an aunt to a 2yo and got covid from watching the 2yo, which she does twice per week. The 2yo got it from her mom, who got it from her sister. Her sister went to a college party and came back with it, giving it her sister (the mom of the 2 yo) and also their parents.

The 2yo and college student were supposedly asymptomatic

We’re hoping our acquaintance’s boyfriend does not die.

When you are asymptomatic, yet can shed enough virus to give the disease to someone else, how can you have “Focused protection”?

Will the kids in the college be OK from covid? Most likely (though the risk is not zero). But the staff, the teachers, the janitors, etc. will not. Same with sports. The athletes might fair ok (though some might not), but the coaches and staff might not.

You CANNOT have “focused protection”. It’s a myth. It’s not possible.

And herd immunity is simply not possible, either.

And even though college students are better off, look at this calculation. Assume there are 20 million college students:

The IFR for this group (sorry, this is the best age range I can find):

This means that 1,840 college students would die of covid if every college student caught covid.

You want something that’s real protection? Get $1 spit tests for covid:

Limit indoor events. Wear a mask. Distance. Increase indoor air flow.

But The Great Barrington Declaration isn’t helpful.


What’s the alternative?

Also, not everyone catches COVID, so the number of deaths would surely be lower than that among college students. But just to put these numbers in perspective, roughly 1100 U.S. college students commit suicide each year, and that’s the SECOND leading cause of death. I don’t know what’s #1 (probably car accidents) or how many lives that takes, but 1800 COVID deaths – while tragic, of course – is not an enormous number.

So if we posit similar numbers of COVID deaths as either of suicides or car accidents, is it really worth all the other collateral damage caused by shutting down society? Have you tried to quantify that?

(GINA ) #3

Without reading the article, I am assuming Focused Protection could work by the government turning the focus of their power from shutting down and/or controlling the operation of classes businesses and industries to the ‘controlling’ of classes of people.

If a government can tell a business they can’t operate at all, they can certainly tell them to allow those over 60 (or with this or that condition) to work from home, or give them a private office, or even keep them on the payroll while at home. If that doesn’t work, governments are spending boatloads of money propping up industries they have shut down. Stop doing that. Let business and the economy operate and spend the money keeping those at risk at home.

(Central Florida Bob ) #4

What has bothered me the most about the Covid-19 response is that we’re tracking (at most) two things: the number of deaths was first, now we’ve added the total number of cases. I can pull up the stats for my state and my county on two websites and that’s all they tell me. No mention of how many people are in a hospital, how many are in ICU, not even a best guess at how many of those cases are sick right now - they’re reporting every positive test in county back to the day testing started.

But we know there are other costs and it’s a golden rule in problem solving classes that “if you don’t measure it, it doesn’t get better”.

I’ve read in many places that suicides are at record levels, and drug ODs (arguably another form of suicide whether intentional or not) are the same. There are others: with hospitals not doing “elective surgeries”, there are large numbers of people who are going to get diagnosed with their cancers at stage 2 or 3 instead of at stage 1. Their odds of dying goes up for every day of delay. I’ve heard there are people who have died at home because of fear of going to an emergency room for that strange symptom they’re having. There was a story in the news this past weekend (? I think) of a 90-something year old woman who died from the emotional pain of isolation.

If we don’t measure these things, we can’t compare the costs of shutting down the country to the costs of the virus.

I’m with @GME

(GINA ) #5

Our county has a pretty elaborate covid website. The hospitalizations section shows that as of 2 days ago, 7 people were hospitalized. We have 433 possible beds in the county. They estimate 205 active cases right now, and 2744 cases total since the beginning.

The cheap home spit tests seem like a great idea, but the FDA has labeled them inaccurate. What I have read about them says they aren’t really less accurate the the PCR up-the-nose tests, but they aren’t as sensitive. The PCR test can pick up an infection 2 days before the home test. But if it takes a day or two to get to a PCR test, then a few more days to get the results, is that really better?

Many more people could test themselves regularly rather than wait until they didn’t feel well or had confirmed contact with someone. I work at a school. We are still closed for now, but for $20 a month I could test myself every school day before work. We could test kids twice a week for less $$ than we are paying for their hotspots to work at home while schol is closed.

(Scott) #6

One question I have with all the testing going on. If someone gets a positive test and needs a negative test before retuning to work. If they get tested four or five times before getting the negative test is that counted as four or five cases or one case? I suspect that each positive would be treated as a new case. Doesn’t really matter to me but if true the amount of confirmed cases may not be very accurate.

(John) #7

Good question. That could be misleading if they are counting multiple times. I have heard of a couple cases here that the people waited hours to test before they decided they didn’t want to wait any longer and left only to get a call saying that they tested positive and needed to quarantine

(I admin it, that’s a terrible pun.) #8

So far, schools do not seem to be stoking community transmission of the coronavirus, according to data emerging from random testing in the United States and Britain. Elementary schools especially seem to seed remarkably few infections.


Schedule a move to NZ in mid 2019 so that you live in a place that has lots of advanced warning where short and severe lockdowns really work?

I think the hard answer that politicians don’t want to give is that a virus has hit us, and it can hospitalize and kill vulnerable folks. Although the death rates are nowhere near what was originally estimated, and the rates seem to be dropping as treatment improves and likely as the virus mutates, some people will continue to sicken and die from this virus. They will continue to die just like people die from various illnesses - infectious and not - every day. (My guess is that with your metabolic health you’re likely not in that category, dilated cardiomyopathy notwithstanding - and happily for our society, young people are not in that category unless something very unusual is going on - but obviously there’s no guarantee, just like there’s no guarantee for anything when it comes to health.)

The job of policy makers is to do as much focused virus protection as possible - nursing homes in particular, frequent testing when it comes to more vulnerable populations - while supporting the overall health of the people and vibrancy of society. They weigh these kinds of risks and balances all the time when it comes to public health - with everything from highway speed limits to the annual flu - but we’re not used to seeing the calculations, nor are we used to seeing the daily case and death toll. [I’m not saying they do a good job at this, mind you, I just think that if we saw a daily death toll of almost anything for months on end we would be in a panic about it.]

I haven’t listened to the link and might have time to do that, but with all due respect to virologists: they’re not responsible for the wellbeing of an entire population, for crafting a policy that takes more into account than just the virus itself.

td;lr COVID sucks, and once it’s in circulation there is no good policy that will keep everyone alive and society intact [edited to add - at least, I haven’t seen one! although I have very little political overlap with the signers of the GB Declaration, I think it’s a reasonable attempt to weigh the many and various risks facing us at this time]

(GINA ) #10

I think you hit the nail on the head about virologists not being in charge of caring for society as a whole. They see a virus, think of how to control the virus, and don’t concern themselves with the consequences those controls cause down the line. That is true of pretty many specialists IME.

I work at a school and we are distance learning. Everyone is concerned about children’s emotional health. At our big back to school training for teachers one of the first people to talk to us were counselors- counselors that were convinced school children would be ashamed of their homes, their clothes, anything and everything. So we were told to never require children to turn on their cameras and always give them option of writing responses rather than have to speak online. How long do you think it took kids over 8 years old to figure out they could log in, turn off their mics and sound, and go off to do whatever they felt like?

Teachers knew from the beginning this policy was going to cause problems, but the counselors convinced the school board and even the media that it is too distressing to have your classmates look at you. I has been an uphill battle since.

Mental health professionals are concerned about one thing- mental health. They don’t concern themselves over whether or not a 4th grader is paying attention in math class, or is sitting there with a cell phone watching TikTok.


A great many more US citizens have died from this virus that would have happened if some middle ground could have been found. It’s not a choice between ‘locking down completely and forever’ and ‘letting the virus run rampant’. There could have been fewer deaths AND disruptions had it not been so grossly mishandled.


I happen to largely agree with you, but what you’ve said above is speculation. There’s no way to know what would have happened with different policies. And unfortunately one of the reasons that we have had so many deaths in the US is that our metabolic health - even compared to health in other industrialized nations - is atrocious.

Also complicating our situation is the fact that states have a fair amount of autonomy on policy, and there have been radically different policies in different states. I’m not sure exactly where you live, but many of the states have had response in that middle ground. Where I live we’ve had it for going on 8 months now (maybe not exactly middle ground, actually: virtually no schools, no camps - definitely not for poor children - mandatory masks, no gatherings).


Herd immunity (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity. Immune individuals are unlikely to contribute to disease transmission, disrupting chains of infection, which stops or slows the spread of disease. The greater the proportion of immune individuals in a community, the smaller the probability that non-immune individuals will come into contact with an infectious individual.

I don’t know here cause I think that the ‘herd immunity’ is a real deal but now apply that to humans working, socializing, flying in planes to other countries and more. Does it truly apply to, say, a few vast herds of caribou out on the tundra? Yes it would apply in very tight scenarios and it has thru eons of nature, but humans are not natural at all…we defy the natural life and have ‘spanned’ WAY out and about and out of control in our contacts and more.

So yea it is real but it is also not something that is gonna be ‘real’ in dealing with humans.

So it is one hand a real thing and real nature but I don’t think it will ever be ‘some big deal’ in human civilization as a ‘focused protection’ at all.


Herd immunity is real in humans. We have it with most of the diseases for which children are vaccinated, and it wasn’t questioned until COVID hit and the phrase became controversial.

Herd immunity is not focused protection. Focused protection refers to the attempts to protect the most vulnerable segments of society from a pathogen. It’s an inexact science to be sure - as Bob points out in the first post - but in any case it’s not the same as herd immunity.

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #15

“Herd immunity” is real, and it is a phenomenon first observed by epidemiologists studying human populations. The term “herd” was originally intended to be a bit humorous when it was coined.

It also is why health officials want people who can safely do so to be vaccinated. The problem with a new disease is how to get to herd immunity without experiencing disaster first. We need to remember that the point of the anti-covid measures is merely to slow the rate of spread to something that the hospital system can accommodate. At some point, however, we need a large enough immune population to keep the rate of spread slow, or we’ll still be in trouble. Remember all those pictures of refrigerator trucks stationed outside the morgues in certain large cities when the virus first arrived?


yea I said exactly that but maybe I worded it wrong and ya quite didn’t get what I was saying LOL


I know, I said that LOL

I think I didn’t write my point clear enough, I do that sometimes :slight_smile:


Sorry - I didn’t understand! It seemed like you were saying it could be a theoretical concept but not actually applicable to humans. All good - thanks for correction.


Yes, that was definitely the original point of the anti-covid measures but I think most folks have forgotten.
@PaulL do you think that’s still the point? And what is our current metric for knowing when we’ve flattened the curve enough to not burden hospitals? (this isn’t a rhetorical question. I’m wondering if anyone actually knows the answer…)

(I admin it, that’s a terrible pun.) #20

It’s okay @Fangs, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been confused by something you said. :grin:

Actually, I think what’s happening is your brain is working on such a higher level, being ZC and carnivore, that your hands can’t keep up with your thoughts, and sometimes it just gets lost in the translation. :wink: