07 October 2020 20:32

Great Barrington Declaration

Coronavirus: Top scientists call for herd immunity approach - as government's 'soft touch' criticised

Top scientists are calling for a herd immunity approach to the coronavirus pandemic by allowing people who are less vulnerable to the effects of the disease to return to normal life. The so-called Great Barrington declaration, signed by leading experts from the universities of Oxford, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Cambridge, Sussex and York, suggests herd immunity as a way forward. The declaration states: "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 coronavirus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. The negative impact of lockdowns listed include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health - which the declaration claims will lead to greater excess mortality in years to come, hitting working class people and young people the most. He said: "This declaration prioritises just one aspect of a sensible strategy - protecting the vulnerable - and suggests we can safely build up 'herd immunity' in the rest of the population.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News that the government didn't want to "have to go back to a national lockdown, where we effectively end up closing down the economy as well as severely restricting people's lives". The Great Barrington Declaration,1 published on Monday 5 October, was drawn up by three epidemiologists and public health experts from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford universities, who describe their approach as "focused protection" of the people most at risk. Kulldorff said that, with focused protection, low risk people could remain active and that this would help communities reach herd immunity sooner, which could shorten the duration and harms of lockdowns.4 Herd immunity, he said at a meeting in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, "is not a strategy—but a biological reality that will arrive sooner or later, either naturally or through a vaccine, or both." The controversial Great Barrington Declaration, which has been signed by more than 7,000 scientists and medics worldwide, calls for a new strategy of allowing younger people to go about their lives as normal while offering "focused protection" to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions who are most at risk from coronavirus. The organisation is displaying the portrait as part of a plan to feature works of overlooked black figures connected with its sites English Heritage/PA UK news in pictures 6 October 2020 Two swimmers run into the sea as the sun rises over Boscombe beach in Dorset PA UK news in pictures 5 October 2020 Veteran fundraiser Lloyd Scott, who is attempting to climb the Three Peaks whilst wearing a deep sea diving suit, is followed by members of his support team during his challenge on Ben Nevis in Scotland PA UK news in pictures 4 October 2020 Liverpool players look dejected after their Premier League match against Aston Villa ended 7-2 at Villa Park stadium in Birmingham AP UK news in pictures 3 October 2020 People on a Northern Line train in London, after the 10pm curfew pubs and restaurants are subject to in order to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England PA UK news in pictures 2 October 2020 England's Charlotte Banfield takes part in a practice session ahead of the 2020 Korev Lager English Adaptive Surfing Open at The Wave in Bristol which takes place tomorrow PA UK news in pictures 1 October 2020 A worker spray cleans the Beatles statue in Liverpool PA UK news in pictures 30 September 2020 An actor dressed as pantomime dame waves a flag at the entrance of a theatre before marching on Parliament to demand more support for the theatre sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in London AP UK news in pictures 29 September 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts whilst talking with students during his visit to Exeter College in southwest England AFP via Getty UK news in pictures 28 September 2020 A student gestures at the window of the Birley Halls student accommodation, for students at Manchester Metropolitan University, as many students live in a temporary lock-down in a bid to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 on the campus. The artwork was commissioned as part of Bournemouth's Arts by the Sea festival Getty UK news in pictures 26 September 2020 Police move in to disperse protesters in Trafalgar Square in London, at a 'We Do Not Consent!' mass rally against vaccination and government restrictions designed to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the wearing of masks and taking tests for the virus AFP via Getty UK news in pictures 25 September 2020 Flowers are laid down outside the custody centre where a police officer was shot dead in Croydon, south London Reuters UK news in pictures 24 September 2020 A member of the Jewish community inspects an Lulav, which makes up one of the 'Four Species', or Arba Minim in Hebrew, before purchasing in London, England.

According to the declaration, a "focused protection" approach is the most compassionate way to minimise deaths and social harm until we reach herd immunity – a situation where enough people are resistant to the virus that the pandemic shrinks. "We know that immunity to coronaviruses wanes over time and reinfection is possible, so lasting protection of vulnerable individuals by establishing herd immunity is very unlikely to be achieved in the absence of a vaccine," said Rupert Beale, a group leader at the Francis Crick Institute in London. A group of leading international scientists is calling on governments across the world to move away from lockdowns as part of their Covid strategies, and to allow young and healthy people to return to a normal life, while protecting the most vulnerable. The proposal, called the Great Barrington Declaration, calls for a herd immunity approach, which it says would allow the virus to spread in low risk groups and would help to quell the pandemic.