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The Great Barrington Declaration: COVID-19, “magnified minority,” and eugenics

Apparently signed by thousands of scientists, the Great Barrington Declaration argues that lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic do more harm than good and that society should use “Focused Protection” for the elderly and those at high risk for severe disease and death from COVID-19 while letting the young go about their business normally. A closer look reveals that COVID-19 deniers are taking a page from a very old denialist propaganda playbook.

When you’ve been examining pseudoscientific and quack claims for over two decades, you start to recognize patterns in the strategies and technique used by those denying science to promote their pseudoscience or quackery. Those who don’t pay attention to these sorts of issues might have been surprised by or unfamiliar with these techniques, but many skeptics were not. I was thinking about this sort of thing when I came across the latest propaganda from COVID-19 deniers, conspiracy theorists, and grifters known as the Great Barrington Declaration.

While I had heard rumblings of this “declaration” a couple of weeks ago, what really tweaked me to write about the Great Barrington Declaration in particular (and the history of such documents in general) was this Tweet from Herman Cain’s Twitter account a week ago:

The thing about this Tweet that is simultaneously amusing and horrifying is that it comes from the Twitter account of a man who died of COVID-19 and whose account is being maintained by…whoever. To see such an account Tweeting a link that makes unscientific claims about COVID-19 under the slogan “Listen to the science” on Herman Cain’s actual website is horrifying:

“Listen to the science.”

That’s been the rallying cry of the left on a myriad of issues over the past several years: abortion, sex and gender, climate change and, most recently, the coronavirus.

Never mind the fact that objective science often disagrees with the left’s contentions. So, they should be happy to reopen the country now that over 6,500 scientists and medical professionals have signed an anti-lockdown petition, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.

The petition, written by Dr. Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, calls for the United States and the United Kingdom to end their lockdowns and promotes allowing the virus to spread among young people in order to build herd immunity.

The Great Barrington Declaration itself bemoans “lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health,” claiming that these issues will lead to “greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden,” the declaration advocates protecting the vulnerable (which the writers call “Focused Protection”) while basically letting COVID-19 race through the population in order to reach herd immunity:

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

On the surface, this sounds oh-so-reasonable. However, saying that we should aim for “herd immunity” is a common trope of COVID-19 deniers. While there are certainly valid concerns about potential negative effects of lockdowns and business closures on various health and economic measures and how society should balance the positive effects of preventing death from coronavirus infection versus the negative effects of restrictive measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the statement above recommends a dangerous course not advocated by the vast majority of public health officials and infectious disease epidemiologists.

I’ll discuss why that’s the case in a moment, but first I’d like to take a trip down memory lane to revisit various examples of science denialists using similar “declarations,” “petitions,” and “open letters” to give the false appearance of strong scientific support for their positions. Why? Because declarations like this, although they can be used for good (such as when US climate scientists recently signed an open letter to Congress reaffirming the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is the primary driver of climate change and the overall warming of the climate), more frequently such letters are propaganda for pseudoscience. Indeed, such “declarations,” “open letters,” and “petitions” signed by physicians and scientists represent a technique that goes back at least to the tobacco companies lining up lists of doctors to testify to the safety of cigarettes. (One particularly ludicrous example from R.J. Reynolds in the 1940s claimed that 113,597 doctors preferred their cigarettes.) The idea was (and is) to give the false impression of a scientific controversy where none exists and to appeal to the authority of scientists and doctors to support their claims. It’s a technique that John Cook has referred to as the “magnified minority”:

In this, the Great Barrington Declaration is only a little different, but at its heart it’s the same technique from the same old playbook, with that “little difference” being that COVID-19 is a new disease and the scientific consensus regarding it isn’t as solid as the consensus is in the case of, for example, evolution, climate science, and vaccines. However, I’m quick to point out that that doesn’t mean that there aren’t wrong answers. The answers just have to be farther afield to be clearly outside of the wider range of scientific consensus, and that’s the case with the Great Barrington Declaration, as I’ll discuss. First, let’s start with my very first exposure to such propaganda, an example that I encountered around 14 years ago.

Creationists against evolution

The first example of these “declarations,” “petitions,” or “open letters” (or whatever you want to call them) that I personally remember consisted of two such letters. The first was “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” a statement against evolution (which creationists love to refer to as “Darwinism,” as though evolution science hasn’t advanced since the 19th century when Darwin lived) by “scientists,” and “Physicians and Surgeons Who Dissent From Darwinism,” signed by, of course, physicians and surgeons going under the moniker of “Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity.” Of course, one thing that I noted right away about the latter letter is that physicians and surgeons are not experts in evolution and, alas, receive far less training in evolution than I personally think they should get, even though the importance of evolution in medicine is becoming more apparent.

What we see in letters like this can be demonstrated by quoting “Physicians and Surgeons Who Dissent From Darwinism,” discussed in more detail here:

As medical doctors we are skeptical of the claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the origination and complexity of life and we therefore dissent from Darwinian macroevolution as a viable theory. This does not imply the endorsement of any alternative theory.

Obviously, one difference here between this “dissent” and that of the Great Barrington Declaration is that this “dissent” doesn’t endorse any “alternative theory”, unlike the Barrington signatories, who endorse a specific different approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, in the case of this “dissent from Darwin,” the preferred alternative was implied, not explicitly stated. The group that promoted this list was the Discovery Institute, which has long promoted “intelligent design” creationism over evolution as the explanation for the diversity of life. This approach is rooted in the same sort of doubt and uncertainty being sowed about our current understanding of what the sciences of epidemiology and public health tell us about how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, if you look at the most recent actual list of signatories that I could find using the almighty Wayback Machine at Archive.org, you’ll soon see that none of these physicians show any evidence that they have any special expertise in evolutionary biology. Indeed, I always find it most telling that only five medical oncologists in the whole world signed on to the list. After all, if there’s any specialty that recognizes the primacy of evolution, it’s oncology, where physicians are always dealing with the evolution of resistance to therapy by tumors under the selective pressure of chemotherapy and other treatments. Of course, overall, only a few hundred physicians, at most, signed this statement; so even that’s not an impressive number.

Amusingly and unsurprisingly, one of them was Dr. Michael Egnor, a creationist neurosurgeon whose nonsense about evolution I cut my skeptical teeth refuting even as I joked about putting a paper bag over my head in shame over how one of my “own,” a surgeon, could say such ridiculous things. None of this kept “intelligent design” creationism supporter Bill Dembski from touting the doctors’ statement, even as these physicians bemoaned their “persecution” at the hands of those evil Darwinists:

Sadly, academic freedom is no longer assured in America and other countries. This is especially true when it involves espousing views contrary to the theory of Darwinian macroevolution. Numerous instances have been documented where scientists and teachers have been censored and even removed from their positions for facilitating open discussion of the empirical problems of the dominant theory. In fact, one scientist who simply followed procedures in allowing a controversial article to be peer-reviewed and then published in the journal he edited, was publicly vilified and relentlessly persecuted.[1]

As academia has suppressed freedom of speech in this area, another avenue needs to be available to promote accurate knowledge and the free exchange of ideas concerning the debate over Darwinism and alternative theories on origins. To accomplish that goal, Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity (PSSI) has been established. PSSI is a means for physicians and surgeons to be counted among those skeptical of nature-driven Darwinian macroevolution.

Because cranks always portray criticism of their pseudoscience as “persecution”.

The “scientific dissent from Darwinism” (which was a project of the Discovery Institute and, as hard as it is to believe, can still be found on the web here, rather than requiring me to go to Archive.org) states:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

That’s nice.

This statement and list are even more ridiculous. After all, one can understand that most physicians are not scientists, but rather highly trained and skilled practitioners who apply science to treat patients, but this second list is supposed to be made up of real scientists. Hilariously, Dr. Egnor makes another appearance on the list, and if you peruse the list you’ll find that the vast majority of the scientists on the list are not evolutionary biologists or even biologists. There are a number of physicists, chemists, engineers, physicians, and the like, but a marked paucity of actual evolutionary biologists.

Amusingly, so ridiculous was this list, that the National Center for Science Education started a parody list called “Project Steve” that consisted of scientists named Steve who accept the science supporting evolution (in fairness, NCSE also accepted Stephens, Stevens, Stephanies, Stefans, and so forth and noted that Etiennes and Estebans would have also been welcome):

Creationists draw up these lists to try to convince the public that evolution is somehow being rejected by scientists, that it is a “theory in crisis.” Not everyone realizes that this claim is unfounded. NCSE has been asked numerous times to compile a list of thousands of scientists affirming the validity of the theory of evolution. Although we easily could have done so, we have resisted. We did not wish to mislead the public into thinking that scientific issues are decided by who has the longer list of scientists!

Project Steve pokes fun at this practice and, because “Steves” are only about 1% of scientists, it also makes the point that tens of thousands of scientists support evolution. And it honors the late Stephen Jay Gould, evolutionary biologist, NCSE supporter, and friend.

The current count of Steves who’ve signed the list is 1,470 as of August 12. NCSE also noted that it was not going to do similar lists for “Janes, Johns, and so on” because “it’s only funny once.”

“Reassessing” HIV as the cause of AIDS

This technique of compiling lists of scientists in order to give the appearance that the science being attacked is “in crisis” and the alternative denialists propose is scientifically legitimate is much older than 15 years. Indeed, the oldest one I paid attention to was first published a group called “The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis,” whose most prominent member was Peter Duesberg:

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group of diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

Of course, HIV was identified and isolated as the causative virus for AIDS in 1984, and by 1991 the evidence in support of this hypothesis was overwhelming. This group tried to get the statement published in a number of scientific journals, but failed; that is, until 1995, when, inexplicably, Science published a version of it:

In 1991, we, the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, became dissatisfied with the state of the evidence that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) did, in fact, cause AIDS.

Specifically, we have proposed that researchers independent of the HIV establishment should audit the Centers for Disease Control’s records of AIDS cases, bearing in mind that the correlation of HIV with AIDS, upon which the case for HIV causation rests, is itself an artefact of the definition of AIDS. Since 1985, exactly the same diseases or conditions have been defined as “AIDS” when antibodies are present, and as “non-AIDS” when HIV and antibodies are absent. Independent professional groups such as the Society of Actuaries should be invited to nominate members for an independent commission to investigate the following question: How frequently do AIDS-defining diseases (or low T cell counts) occur in the absence of HIV? Until we have a definition of AIDS that is independent of HIV, the supposed correlation of HIV and AIDS is mere tautology.

Other independent researchers should examine the validity of the so-called “AIDS tests,” especially when these tests are used in Africa and Southern Asia, to see if they reliably record the presence of antibodies, let alone live and replicating virus.

The bottom line is this: the skeptics are eager to see the results of independent scientific testing. Those who uphold the HIV “party line” have so far refused. We object.

Of course, since even 1995, the evidence linking HIV to AIDS has become even stronger, particularly, as Dr. Novella noted, given how anti-retroviral drug cocktails targeting HIV have resulted in the conversion of HIV infection from a virtual death sentence to making it a chronic, manageable disease whose sufferers can, with treatment, live almost a normal lifespan. Unfortunately, as with forms of denial such as antivaccine misinformation, HIV/AIDS denial has real-world consequences in the form of the unnecessary deaths of people infected with the retrovirus, people such as Christine Maggiore and her daughter.

And all the rest

There are a number of other examples of similar statements/petitions/declarations signed by scientists designed to give the impression that the pseudoscientific or quack viewpoint in question has major scientific support. Unsurprisingly, climate science denialists have made use of this particular propaganda technique; for example, an open letter to the United Nations by the Netherlands-based Climate Intelligence Foundation (Clintel) and promoted by “Friends of Science,” a Canada-based “non-profit organization run by dedicated volunteers comprised mainly of active and retired earth and atmospheric scientists, engineers, and other professionals, claiming that there is “no climate emergency“. This “no climate emergency” is a line that Clintel in particular has been promoting. Unsurprisingly, it has been widely reported that the Friends of Science is a front group funded by Calgary’s fossil fuel industry, while, as is the usual case in these letters, very few the 500 or so signatories to the “no climate emergency” statement have any actual background in climate science, as noted by Desmogblog, while many of the signatories are well-known climate science deniers. Several years earlier, climate science denialists sent a similar letter, signed by 125 scientist to the UN Secretary-General peddling the same discredited tropes. Again, few of the signatories had any background in climate science, with most of them being engineers, physicists, geologists, and the like and one being a professor of marketing (appropriate, given that this letter was propaganda).

There are multiple other such “petitions” and “open letters” by climate science deniers, including the Oregon Petition, the International Conference on Climate Change, and the Cornwall Alliance, among others.

Perhaps my favorite such letter is the AE911Truth Petition. Yes, it’s a petition by a group adhering to the “9/11 truth” conspiracy theory that claims that the World Trade Center towers could not have been brought down by jet liners crashing into them and that the “conventional” narrative is wrong. They generally also claim that, because the crashes alone supposedly couldn’t have brought down the towers, there must have been explosives planted to result in a “controlled demolition”, perhaps as part of an “inside job”, and that’s what the petition states:

On Behalf of the People of the United States of America, the undersigned Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and affiliates hereby petition for, and demand, a truly independent investigation with subpoena power in order to uncover the full truth surrounding the events of 9/11/01 — specifically the collapses of the World Trade Center Towers and Building 7. We believe there is sufficient doubt about the official story and therefore the 9/11 investigation must be re-opened and must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that might have been the actual cause of the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7.

Sadly, it’s signed by over 3,000 architects and engineers. AE911Truth contends that these are, unlike the case for letters “dissenting from Darwin” or “doubting climate science,” supposedly actual experts who could make such a conclusion; other engineers point out a number of problems, for example:

Only a handful of architects and engineers question the NIST Report, but they have never come up with an alternative. Although at first blush it may seem impressive that these people don’t believe the NIST Report, remember that there are 123,000 members of ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) who do not question the NIST Report. There are also 80,000 members of AIA (American Institute of Architects) who do not question the NIST Report.

Although their field of expertise is not related to the construction of buildings – they don’t seem to have a problem with that over at AE911truth – there are also 120,000 members of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) who do not question the NIST report. There are also 370,000 members of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) who do not question the NIST report. There are also 40,000 members of AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) who do not question the NIST Report. There are also 35,000 members of AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) who do not question the NIST report. So who would you rather believe?

It’s also noted that, although this group “questions” the “official 9/11 narrative”, they don’t present “any calculations that show how the NIST Report is wrong.”

But where are the antivaxxers?

One of the odd things that I realized as I was researching and writing this post was that I didn’t remember any such declarations or petitions with lists of doctors and/or scientists like this promoted by the antivaccine movement, and I’ve been paying attention to the movement since at least 2000. This troubled me, because if there’s a form of quackery and pseudoscience that I’d have thought would use the false authority of a list of scientists and doctors, it would be the antivaccine movement. There have been many “open letters” from “health freedom” and “medical freedom” organizations, for example this letter from the European Forum for Vaccine Vigilance to the World Health Organization. Yet the list of signatories appears not to include a single doctor or scientist, but does include Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and a lot of antivaccine and “health freedom” organizations. There have also been such “open letters” by lawyers on the constitutionality of school vaccine mandates, but I was unable to find anything like the letters by creationists, HIV/AIDS deniers, 9/11 Truthers, and the like.

I can only speculate, but I suspect it’s probably one or the other (or a combination of two) reasons. First, I suspect that the number of scientists and doctors who are antivaccine enough to be willing to sign their names to such a document is so small that it would not be very impressive or convincing. Second, many antivaccine doctors are into “autism biomed” quackery and grift. It’s possible that they are reluctant to “go public” and draw the attention of the FDA or state medical boards to their activities. These reasons could be wrong, but they are all I could come up with.

This brings me back to the Great Barrington Declaration.

Herd immunity against COVID-19 is likely not achievable without a vaccine

The Great Barrington Declaration basically argues these points:

  • Lockdowns are seriously impacting public health (arguable); and
  • The SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is not as dangerous to the young as it is to the old (true but deceptive); therefore,
  • We should protect the vulnerable, such as the elderly (which means basically those over 50 or 60 years old—which could include me) and those with comorbidities known to increase the risk of life-threatening disease from COVID-19, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension (not as easily done as implied); and
  • The young should be allowed to go about business normally, with “simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick” being “practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold,” as high-risk vulnerable groups are protected.

On the surface, it all sounds so reasonable, but there are a lot of issues with this proposed solution, as a number of epidemiologists have pointed out. Also, as is the case with most such letters, while a handful of the signatories are actual experts, the vast majority are not. Worse, those promoting the Declaration haven’t been too careful about vetting their “expert” signatories:

The statement claims to have been signed by more than 6,000 medical scientists, but anyone can sign up claiming to be one (there are a number of fake medical signatories on the list, including a Dr Harold Shipman). When Sky News pressed one of the co-authors on this, he said: “We do not have the resources to audit each signature.” Consider what this approach would mean for scientific endeavour were it applied more broadly. And what are scientists doing fronting a campaign whose back office is run by a thinktank that flirts with climate change denial?

Examples include:

https://twitter.com/DrDomPimenta/status/1314569202267762695

Hilariously, the admins for the Declaration claim that only 0.1% of its signatories aren’t real:

As amusing as it is to laugh at those behind the Declaration and their foolishness, basically allowing anybody to sign it claiming to be a scientists (indeed, apparently the website’s admins have removed the search function from their website, so embarrassed are the scientists behind the Declaration over the fake signatures), let’s look at the claims in the Barrington Declaration itself. I like to start out with this rebuttal by The Real Truther to the claim that lockdowns are causing missed vaccine appointments, cancer screenings, surgeries, and deteriorating mental health when ALL are actually consequences of the pandemic:

While the US and UK issued guidance to urge parents not to miss appointments for vaccines:

The Real Truther also notes that mental health issues derive more from the pandemic itself than from lockdowns. For instance, in Sweden, where the government instituted policies more in line with what the Great Barrington Declaration wants, people weren’t spared the mental health effects, and calls for depression increased 125%, while it was estimated that around one in eight cancer cases might have gone undetected. (The same thing happened in Japan, which didn’t lock down either, with suicides increasing and screenings for cancer halted.)

Meanwhile, in the US:

A conservative in the UK named David Gauke actually summed it up pretty well:

But there are a couple of problems with this argument. First, if the virus takes hold, it will not matter whether pubs have to close at 10pm, 11pm or 12pm. People will not want to go to the pub or restaurant, cinema, shop or office. Most of the economic damage caused by a virus is driven by people voluntarily changing their behaviour.

Precisely. To get the economy to rebound, we have to have the virus under control.

As for herd immunity, listen to this epidemiologist explain why, without a vaccine, trying to reach herd immunity is unlikely to be successful without massive death:

The main problem is something very basic — herd immunity requires IMMUNITY to the disease. When people are proposing herd immunity as an exit strategy for COVID-19, what they are implicitly arguing is that, once infected, you cannot get the disease again — you are immune.

Unfortunately, we know that this simply isn’t the case. There are already widespread reports of people getting reinfected with COVID-19, and worryingly some of these people are having MORE severe infections the second time around. This makes herd immunity in the traditional sense largely unreachable, because some people can clearly get infected and transmit the virus on to others over and over again.

We also don’t know how long the immunity will last even in people who get infected and are then immune. Some people may be immune for months, some for years, some for their entire lives — we simply have very little idea and won’t know for sure for a while yet. If large swathes of the population are infected this year but do not develop long-lasting immunity, chances are we’ll have epidemics in the future as well.

He also notes that this pretty much demolishes the Great Barrington Declaration’s suggestion to have nursing homes staffed only with people who’ve recovered from COVID-19. Why? Because it’s unknown how long their immunity will last, and that immunity might be very transient! He also notes what it would take to protect the “vulnerable”:

This makes plans to protect the more vulnerable populations even more problematic —even if you staffed an aged care centre only with people who’d had COVID-19 before, you would expect some proportion of them to get sick the next time an epidemic broke out anyway, potentially infecting the vulnerable older people you set out to protect.

Yale epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves has been particularly brutal in his assessment of “Focused Protection”, noting:

Let’s put this into some real-world context. In the United States, only a small proportion of older Americans live in nursing or care homes, where we have shown little ability to keep our elders safe over the past eight months. The bulk of older Americans are integrated into our communities, living alone or with their spouses or their families. Even if we could make nursing homes into impenetrable fortresses impervious to viral entry, it’s not at all clear how we’d keep the millions of elderly “safe” as they live around, among, and with us. In fact, data from CDC suggests that we haven’t done a good job at all on this, and when virus cases surge in young people, the elderly are next in line for transmission.

Another group of people to whom these three august academics give short shrift are the chronically ill in America. The CDC estimates that nearly half of all Americans (47.5 percent) have underlying conditions that predispose them to severe Covid-19 outcomes. If it is a challenge to think of sequestering the elderly, what do we do with almost half of our fellow Americans who may be at similar enhanced risk of complications and death from Covid-19?

I’m over 50 and have hypertension. That puts me in at least an intermediate risk, if not high risk, group for severe disease and death from COVID-19. Many of the readers of this blog fall into the second group, as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are very common in our population. Gonsalves also notes that the young are not entirely safe either, particularly that for those hospitalized with COVID-19: 21% required intensive care, 10% required mechanical ventilation, and 2.7% died, while half of the young people hospitalized in this cohort were black or Latino. Also, the Great Barrington Declaration is based on a false premise, given that few, if any, epidemiologists are advocating lockdowns any more; instead, they are advocating more limited restrictions, social distancing, contact tracing, extensive testing, and the use of masks. Indeed, we aren’t in “lockdown” any more and haven’t been for some time, while even our “lockdowns” in the US have been nowhere near as drastic as they were in, for example, China early in the pandemic.

Interestingly, I noticed that, for all the recommendations to protect the vulnerable in the Great Barrington Declaration, nowhere does it mention the widespread use of masks, testing (other than for nursing home staffs), or contact tracing. I wonder why, given that masks work and are a relatively easy measure for people to use—or would be, if they hadn’t been politicized to the point where wearing or not wearing a mask is considered a signifier of one’s political “tribe,” and testing and tracing, although not adequate in and of themselves, are widely agreed to be an important part of any COVID-19 public health mitigation strategy.

To boil it all down, if you listen to epidemiologists and public health scientists, you’ll soon realize that it’s impossible to protect the vulnerable from a virus that’s rapidly spreading among the entire population, even if the risk of death or severe disease is much lower in the young. Thus, protecting the vulnerable is only part of a science-based approach to controlling the pandemic that won’t be enough on its own. Those behind the Barrington Declaration claim that they’re not advocating “locking up the elderly,” but in practice that’s exactly what they’re doing, and their plan borders on eugenics:

We’re close to a turning point in the virus: Vaccines will arrive sometime in the next year, and when they do, they’ll put us on a much safer course toward ending the pandemic. “We’ll get herd immunity, but let’s do that with a vaccine, not by sacrificing people,” said Halkitis. “It’s not 1918, for God’s sake.” In the meantime, both Halkitis and Gonsalves agreed that it would be dangerously unwise to follow the Great Barrington Declaration’s advice. “The idea that you can keep outbreaks among the young away from the elderly is ridiculous,” says Gonsalves. “They can spin it however they like, but they don’t really have a plan—it’s grotesque, and it borders on eugenics.”

I would disagree with Gonsalves in that I wouldn’t have used the word “borders.” It is eugenics. Moreover, the Great Barrington Declaration is more about conservative economics than it is about epidemiology and public health. Even the town of Great Barrington rejects this “declaration”!

The final wrinkle: Climate science denial meets COVID-19 denial in the Great Barrington Declaration

An interesting final wrinkle emerged a week ago, one that should surprise no one. That’s when it was reported that the “think tank” behind the Great Barrington Declaration is a climate science denialist organization funded in part by the Koch brothers:

On 3 October 2020, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a libertarian free-market think-tank in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, hosted a private gathering of scientists, economists and journalists to discuss responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them was the distinguished Oxford University epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta, among the most vocal proponents of a ‘herd immunity’ strategy.

The Great Barrington Declaration, after the town in which it was created, was drafted by Gupta with two other top US scientists, Professor Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University and Stanford Fellow Jay Bhattacharya. The Declaration itself – which calls for only the elderly and vulnerable to be quarantined while encouraging young people to contract the virus – was signed by an initial batch of some 35 scientists.

There’s big money behind it too:

Indeed the AIER is not just a free-market think-tank. It receives a large bulk of its funding from its own investment activities, not least in fossil fuels, energy utilities, tobacco, technology and consumer goods. AIER owns a major investment firm, American Investment Services Inc., which harnesses the think-tank’s research to help inform investment advice. Security Exchange Commission filings seen by Byline Times confirm that AIER’s American Investment Services Inc. runs a private fund valued at $284,492,000.

One notes that the scientists behind this Oxford professor Sunetra Gupta, Stanford physician Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (whose research interest is the economics of health care, not epidemiology), and Harvard professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff (who is a biostatistician, not an epidemiologist) stated in an accompanying video that their declaration should “sit outside politics.” I had to laugh at that given that they were supported by AIER and launched their Declaration at an event hosted by the group, given that AIER is anything but apolitical.

The Great Barrington Trio
Martin Kulldorff of Harvard Medical School, Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University at the American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington.

One possible interpretation is that Drs. Gupta, Bhattacharya, and Kulldorff are politically very naïve (or, as I’d call them, useful idiots for AIER), which, I suppose, is possible. Many scientists are pretty clueless about the political ramifications of what they do and can be duped by ideological groups. However, I tend to doubt that they’re that naïve. Instead, I believe that these scientists are likely being disingenuous and know exactly what they are doing. They almost certainly believe that they are doing good, but they are also very likely ideologically aligned with AIER, leading them to genuinely believe that the FP approach is the best balance between harm due to public health interventions and harm and death due to COVID-19. My interpretation is that, whether they realize it or not, this trio is providing “scientific cover” and a “scientists divided” narrative to cast doubt on the science they don’t accept beloved of science denialists since tobacco companies first started casting doubt on science showing the harmful health effects of smoking in the service of a free market fundamentalist “solution” to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the fact that the trio behind the document have met with White House coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, all of whom advocate for immediate “reopening” of business and against maintaining strong public health interventions against COVID-19. Not coincidentally, their preferred approach is much more in line with the approach advocated in the Great Barrington Declaration, strongly suggesting that these scientists are likely to be motivated as much by ideology as their interpretation of COVID-19 public health science. So does Dr. Bhattacharya’s recent claims that he’s being “censored” and “silenced.” (As an aside, that first link was an interview with ZDoggMD, which disappoints me.)

Whether you want to call it the “magnified minority,” as John Cook does, or something else, to me the Great Barrington Declaration represents a variation on decades-old astroturf techniques. Just as those behind astroturf campaigns seek to disguise their campaigns as organically arising from grassroots efforts and activism, this form of astroturf seeks to cloak the agenda of business or ideological groups in the disguise of science by portraying their agenda as organically arising from the science, using scientists ideologically sympathetic or aligned with them to spearhead their message and then gathering as many signatures as they can from scientists and doctors, regardless of whether they have actual expertise in the relevant sciences. It’s something that’s been going on for decades, which makes it unsurprising that it’s found its way into COVID-19 denial and provided fodder for Fox News and others to argue against various COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

126 replies on “The Great Barrington Declaration: COVID-19, “magnified minority,” and eugenics”

One possible interpretation is that Drs. Gupta, Bhattacharya, and Kulldorff are politically very naïve

Bhattacharya had already shown himself to be incompetent or ideologically driven with that execrable Seropositivity survey. They used tests known to give false positives, and recruited “random subjects” by advertising participation as an opportunity to have a free COVID test (IOW their sample was skewed towards people who had reason to worry that they’d been exposed), and applied stats that couldn’t have been more abysmal if they’d tried.

Serendipitous that you mention 9/11 Truther nutbags, as some of us regulars have been having a fight with Aelxa on that very topic.
On a side note, I saw a familiar name on the list of signatories shown in those tweets.
Christopher Shaw.
We have seen what happened with “herd immunity” already. The countries that went to strict lockdown are now opening up again, while those that took less determined steps hadtheir economies damaged by the deaths. It is astonishing that anyone would press for loosening restrictions to save the economy.

Julian

Really Julian, you are having a fight with me about 9/11? Gee, I have not seen a single post show up in my email on the subject. But there is engineering proof that building 7 coming down is very hinky…….

http://ine.uaf.edu/wtc7

Try looking at the above link. Notice the engineering proofs.

The idea that no one has done engineering calculations is completely false. And lots of real engineers and architects say NIST is full of brown stuff.

And I always love how people like you throw around such personally derogatory remarks like “nutbag”, calling other people nasty names. How playground nasty of you, do you throw dirt in the eyes of your opponent when fighting hand to hand, too? Why don’t I just call you a potty-mouth in that case.

Aelxa, I read that link. All it said was that fire was not responsible for the collapse of WTC 7. That’s not hinky. The collapse of the two towers caused such massive vibrations that the columns in WTC 7 collapsed.

…do you throw dirt in the eyes of your opponent when fighting hand to hand, too?

No. I use pepper spray.
The “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” has been explained to you. The fire didn’t need to melt the beams. It just needed ot heat them to a collapse point. If you still view 9/11 as a conspiracy, then “nutbag” fits.

Julian

NIST claims that fires caused ONE support beam to fail and that single support beam failure caused the entire building to pancake.

If this were possible, demolition specialists would not take weeks rigging a building to fall in it’s own footprint by setting explosives on multiple support beams on the different floors from top to bottom.

A single beam failure would cause a partial side collapse of perhaps a few floors.

There has never been a building pancake from fires before or after 9/11.

The miracle event only occurred at WTC on 9/11 to not one but THREE buildings all on the WTC property only.

None of the surrounding buildings which were much older than the WTC buildings pancaked. If vibrations could do that to Building 7, then the surrounding high rises should all be taken down as they are in jeopardy of suddenly falling down one day unexpectedly.

And there were fires in other buildings, some not on the WTC property, none of them pancakes.

So if you want to sling names around, I can do it too. But I prefer not to call people names, is I refrain from such childish behavior.

You are like the Loyal Lemmings, if NIST says it is so, then it must be true, though I have seen enough to say it is BS.

WTC Building 5 completely burned multiple floors, and had only a partial collapse to one side of four floors.

Which is exactly what you expect in a building engineered to survive a fire.

Julian

NIST claims that failure of columns 76 thru 81 finished off Building 7 causing the pancaking of the building.

Well, the U of A engineering dept did a computer run of that, and if you watched it on the page I linked to, you would have seen the building falling sideways.

What the NIST says caused the pancake collapse does not work, the building falls over into the street and other buildings.

But you will continue to believe the NIST report, and I will believe the computer simulations of the NIST report which shows their explanation is made up of thin air.

A while back I was reading “Save Me the Plums” by Ruth Reichl about her time as the head of Gourmet magazine. It was delightful reading (she’s a great writer) and then, bam, it was time for the fall issue of Gourmet in 2001 and I knew where it was going. Like most magazines, Gourmet was in Manhattan.

She talked about her husband evacuating her son (and some of his school friends who’s parents couldn’t be contacted). She talked about getting to New Hampshire to be with them.

She talked about coming back to the city to open the magazine’s kitchens to cook for all the rescue and clean up workers.

She talked about the only staff member of Windows on the World to survive work that day.

I sobbed. I wept for their pain and their fear and their loss and their compassion and their resilience.

So when someone like you, Alexa, uses 9/11 as a game, as a toy, as a way of drawing attention to yourself, it sickens me. You don’t care about the people who suffered there. My cousin, terrified on a tiny boat in the harbor. My husband’s classmate, on one of the planes. My father’s colleagues of decades, lost.

You see their pain and suffering and loss as a way of getting attention for yourself. It is disgusting. It is cruel beyond words. You are a ghoul.

@Aelxa NIST report is here
https://www.nist.gov/publications/final-report-collapse-world-trade-center-building-7-federal-building-and-fire-safety-0
Cause of collapse was buckling, not melting. This means that thermal expansion caused stresses, which caused collapse of rooms. This weakened the structurre more, and caused final collapse.
Do you really think that a structural engineer does not understand that melting of one pillar would cause a lopsided collapse ? Thus “wingnut”.

TBruce

If you noticed at all, the buildings which collapsed at WTC were not fully engulfed in flames to the point there was nothing left of the building standing there but hot metal girders as in Brazil.

The WTC buildings had a little smoke and no obvious flames at all. There was no external loss of the structure, it looked like a minimal fire was burning and suddenly the buildings all collapse.

The Brazil fire was a total gutting of the internal and external framework in about 3 1/2 hours, there was nothing left to hold it up, there were only glowing metal girders and then it comes down.

Comparing the two is like comparing apples and a brick.

But it does show that it takes almost a complete gutting of a highrise to nothing but bare glowing girders before it will pancake.

Thanks for the great example. It shows that there was not enough damage to the WTC to cause them to pancake.

Gee, so why did the WTC buildings fall down?

JustaTech

You know you are a nasty bit of work.

I had friends who died in those buildings, my best childhood friend just missed dying in the Towers because she was late to work.

Go stuff your writing about the WTC and 9/11 where the sun does not shine, you have no idea what trauma is until you try to get in contact with friends and find most of them died. Then crying together with my best friend a week later when I was finally able to contact her.

Then dealing with her anxiety that caused her to leave NYC, going to hide in her family summer home in NJ, unable to return to NYC for over ten years before she was able to go back to her apartment in the city and resume her life.

Screw your magazine reminisces, I lost real people.

You have some nerve to call me a ghoul, keep you f-ING name calling to people you know and stop assuming crap.

The quote by Gegg Gonsalves, who posted this on my Facebook, is spot on. But the piece as a whole is a missed opportunity to take the “Great Barrington Declaration” apart forensically. It takes ages to get going, and is then unselective of its criticism of the Declaration. Needs a good edit.

We don’t need to know at such length the history of such ‘open letters’. Just mentioning how creationists and AIDS denialists have used them would have been enough.
It’s funded by right wing libertarians? No shit.
While I accept that reinfection happens, and can be nasry, I still don’t think there’s any evidence that it’s anything but rare.

There are basically three or four criticisms of the Declaration. Which is enough, and all you needed to say. The endless Twitter quotes just weaken your point.

There’s no evidence from anywhere, except for rare focal hotspots, that anything more than 10% of any local population have had COVID-19. Speeding up the process by which another 70-80% get it would involve, in the US, at the widely accepted mortality rate of 1% of cases, 2 million deaths in a short time. In the UK that would be about 550,000 cases. That is ten times the number who died in the six weeks of the peak between April 1 and May 15. If they think that’s a price worth paying, and one the health and political systems could stand, they should say so.
As you say, we don’t have a correlate of herd immunity. We don’t know if a positive antibody test means you’re immune; and we don’t know if absence of antibodies means you’re not.
Gregg’s point, and the strongest of all: most of the vulnerable are not segregated from us, but are mixed in with everyone else (hey, I’m 64 and HIV+; this means me.) How they propose to shield us without measures even more oppressive to our civil liberties and mental health, while the rest go about their business, is not something they explain.
Their failure to support the simplest measures that do work – masks and physical social distancing – speaks volumes for their ideological direction.

So, some good points, but badly made, I feel.

I suspect that any number of bloggers have written critiques of the Declaration. Some succinct, some not so succinct. Whatever one’s preferred style of discourse, there will be a critique available.

I also suspect that any criticism of Orac’s way of structuring an argument and prioritizing his points (however constructively intended) will make little difference to future posts…

There has been some libertairian-bshing going on all up inside here.,

I don’t fuck dolphins often, but when I do I rub moth-wing-scales all along the inner lip of the blow hole.

It’s an example of a person with a short attention span when someone else is talking and quite a long attention span when they’re the one talking. So they prefer talking to listening. Listening also risks learning and they may have a learning allergy, and will get inflamed when they listen for long stretches.

“So, some good points, but badly made, I feel.”

That’s a very clumsy and ungrammatical sentence. It ruins your whole post. 🙁

If Orac wants an editor, he’ll get one. A lot of the boiler plate is there for those who aren’t regular readers.

Orac does this in his spare time–whilst he’s not doing research or operating on women with breast cancer or fostering abandoned puppies, so who asked you? Use your scroll bar if you fine some bits a bit much.

A week ago, some people, who wrote an opinionpiece in the newspaper I read, came with the idea, to divide the population in 4 agegroups.
Children up to 15 year, who could go as they please all day long, because they don’t get ill and don’t spread the disease.
Young people from 15 to 30, who can be around people with the same age-group, because the disease hasn’t a great effect on most of them. They wouldn’t mind not to be around elderly people who are over 60. They can have the evening and the night from 5 PM. In that time, they can go shopping, go to pubs and whatever.
Grown-ups from 30 to 60, they will have to do everything outdoors between 12 till 5 PM.
Elderly people, from over 60, who are early risers, can have the morning till 12 o’clock. After that they don’t have to stop their live, but they better stay at home.

Now, that really sounds like an awsome (or rather awfull) idea.
I wonder how to do this. How do you seperate age-groups and how to avoid they meet eachother? Young people have parents, don’t they? They will mostly be in a different agegroup. Grown-ups and young people might be involved in caring for elderly or vunerable people.

Sometimes I get the impression Covid-19 messes with peoples brains. I can’t think of a reason, why people start getting these weird ideas.

Honestly, that just sounds like a staffing and logistics nightmare. Or are we going to bring back child labor, and have the under 15 segment work the businesses that these people will be using? Of course, the real truth is that the people suggesting this don’t think workers count as people.

I suppose the shift in the morning is for people over 60 and the shift in the afternoon is for people under 60. Besides, people can work from home. The night-shift is for people under 30.

But I suppose these people just don’t really think about the practical concequences of their ideas.
One of the authors is a publisher (I suppose he can work at home) and the other is a journalist (who probably can work at home as well). They mention the ages of their children, but not their own age.

It’s the same blindness, which I think is due to a desire for order, that leads to designs for new city-based buildings, transit, etc. being illustrated with virtually no people around. It’s just so much easier to deal with very few people, and people you move like toy soldiers, than with actual real populations.

Children up to 15 year, who could go as they please all day long, because they don’t get ill and don’t spread the disease

Apart from the minor detail of children getting ill and spreading the virus.

People are confused because in the beginning there were reports saying kids do not get ill and do not spread the disease.

Of course as the months went on we learned that yes, kids do get ill but 99.5% of them will be asymptomatic. That only means the kids have no symptoms of being ill, but like Thypoid Mary the kids can spread it just fine. And some kids do die from COVID-19 just like adults do.

Meanwhile, trumps Loyal Lemmings keep spreading the old incorrect information, as if it was the gospel truth, and all that came afterwards is completely false information.

As if we could possible know what a new novel virus would do to human beings with any confidence. It can take years until we find out what all the ramifications of getting COVID-19 will be.

That is where “pre-existing conditions” will cost people big time if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. And the military does not even want you if you had COVID-19…….

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/05/06/coronavirus-survivors-banned-from-joining-the-military/

And I love the BS that people do not die from COVID-19, they die of pneumonia….like they had pneumonia and were dying of it before they were positive for COVID-19. Or they died of blood clots, yet blood clotting is what COVID-19 does like gang-busters.

And the other minor detail of they’re children ie, people who still need at least limited supervision to make sure they don’t get hurt.

Not that I think that the people who came up with this “idea” thought that far ahead.

Perhaps the existence of the anti-vax physician groups AAPS (the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, aka Worshippers of Wakefield) and PIC (Physicians for Informed Consent (where Bob Sears and Paul Thomas add to their grift)) are why there haven’t been any “great declaration” petitions in anti-vax land (but who knows what else 2020 might bring, oh joy).

And here’s a good example why trying for “natural herd immunity” won’t work (from The History of Vaccines web site) regarding the US rubella outbreak of 1964 (pre-vaccine era):

A massive rubella outbreak in the United States initially failed to draw serious attention. A Time magazine article encouraged rubella parties, even recommending strategies so that “especially all the little girls get the infection.”

Unfortunately, despite warnings about keeping infected children away from pregnant women, nearly 50,000 women in vulnerable stages of their pregnancies were infected with rubella during the outbreak, leading to thousands of miscarriages and even more children being born with severe damage. At least 8,000 were born deaf, 3,500 deaf and blind; the total number of congenital rubella syndrome cases reached 20,000.

Over the course of the outbreak the country tallied approximately 12.5 million cases of rubella and more than 2,000 deaths. Resulting medical costs reached the billions.

More than a decade ago, I looked carefully into the list of hiv/aids deniers who signed the declaration Orac mentions above and discovered that it was NOT purely a list of scientists but included well known contrarians/ journalists and non-medical academics ( the link cited here shows only the first few and includes one of each, Farber and Bialy, respectively: I can assure you that that sample is quite representative of the entire list). Over the years, many of aids denialism’s well publicised poster girls and boys who discussed their drug free “recoveries” somehow mysteriously died but not of aids, supporters insisted.. Since then, the popularity of aids denialism in pseudoscience has declined precipitously as survival rates with HAART have increased. Aids denialists try to repair their damaged reputations by dancing around their former statements but never, ever admitting that the hiv virus causes the disease without any assistance from unhealthy terrain and shriek when Wikipedia rightly labels them ( see PRN who continue support for this scam as well as for Great Barrington- an example of crank magnetism, I’d say)..

So what happens following COVID shutdowns? I follow local/ nearby numbers since March: here, we went from a 5.39 Rt to 1.15 today ( with dips as low as 0.60) as we are slowly reopening businesses, restaurants and schools. Unemployment greatly decreased in conjunction with the improved situation. “Next door”, with a lower overall Rt BUT foci of higher rates in specific locales, targeted closings are happening ( red/ orange/ yellow zones). I observe that other places that were not as cautious as we were, keeping businesses open and disregarding mask orders on a significant scale, are now worsening. You need only look at a map. .

I included material on hiv/aids denialism to illustrate that things change and reality intervenes even amongst the most reality challenged because average people can eventually evaluate how liars with loudspeakers present dangerous nonsense in order to boost their own brand or sell products and media. Unfortunately, in the current climate that decries expertise or fact based authority in any field – including SBM- and actively avoids realistic media investigation, myths about COVID flourish alongside QAnon fiction,911 Truth, Natural Health misinformation and anti-vax mythology. Being a denialist doesn’t mean that you have to ‘check all boxes’ but usually, it will be more than one., .. .

The “They didn’t die of HIV/AIDS, they died of pneumonia (or whatever)” from HIV denialists sounds very much like “They didn’t die from COVID, they died from pneumonia.” The more things change…

What you say is true although they also used twisted explanations of causes of death. Unbelievable stuff!

To add to my above comment, before I go;
Newsweek today:
places with high positivity rates/ “uncontrolled spread” – AS MUCH AS 29 AND 36%!
IN ORDER worst:
Texas, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi,, South Carolina, North Carolina, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, ND, SD, MN, NE, Iowa, WI NV, UT, CO, Kansas, MO, WV, KY, NM, Alaska,

NY has 1.2%; NJ 2-3% when I last looked

Notice any trends?

Denice

Notice any trends? Yeah where COVID-19 was in the beginning and people died like flies, people are now wiser and taking real precautions….dropping rates into single digits.

Where people did not suffer and now think the worst is over…..the party is just getting starting for COVID-19.

Think it will be over 500,000 dead by New Years Day? The numbers all go up after a holiday….we have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanaka, Kwanza, and Christmas coming up…..and New Years to cap it oflate a great new start to COVID-19 a la 2021.🎉🎊

One word: myopia/privilege..

Orac, you do realize millions of poor brown ppl will die in the hunger pandemic- u happen to be a white, middle-class doctor? Yes you wont go hungry in the pandemic.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-09/pandemic-threatens-to-kill-more-from-hunger-than-infection
https://www.news.com.au/world/coronavirus/global/coronavirus-who-backflips-on-virus-stance-by-condemning-lockdowns/news-story/f2188f2aebff1b7b291b297731c3da74
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/no-meat-no-milk-no-bread-hunger-crisis-rocks-latin-america/ar-BB19uHPS

Hmm, Orac, you dont seem to give a rodents posterior about the lives of millions of brown ppl…., are you (gasp) a “word that starts with an R”?

food prices of staples like wheat, corn, soybeans have alrdy risen 20% in the past months, and El Nina has not yet even arrived. This could be a perfect storm for the biggest hunger pandemic ever. But I guess you have the privilege to not worry about your next meal.

P.S. Wheres the high-N RCT proving lockdowns work? Isnt this a science blog where you support with scientific studies??? And shouldnt a scientist look at all the important variables? Lives of millions of brown ppl not important? Good to know…

Tim

But DJT is orange not brown…… and orange goes so well in the Autumn, he would blend right in with the falling leaves.

If only Humpty Donty would only take a big fall now, that would make my year.

And you are mixing genders (not that there is anything wrong with that; could be la/el nina/nino+), it is La Niña. La Niña winters can be unusually mild — just watch out for the waning tail which sometimes brings outbreaks of spotty but destructive tornados in the U.S.

Uh, Q-ball, what about the fact that the death toll from COVID is much higher in communities of color than among white people?

That’s why the Native American reservations in my area shut down before anyone else, even closing their main sources of income, the fisheries and the casinos.

And the Latino workers in the agricultural sector out here have also suffered disproportionally, mostly due to the lousy housing conditions during the working season (when they live at the orchard and vineyards). The agricultural sector didn’t close down (essential business), but the workers still suffered from COVID.

So why should people of color, who are more likely to die of the disease, be forced out into the workforce, when you’ve said that the most likely cause of food shortages is climatic and nothing that anyone can do anything about?

Cognitive Dissonance Runs Strong on this Site, you claim money is driving the Barrington Declaration but how much money is being spent on and by the pharmaceutical, PPC, mask, companies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/09/health/research/09sick.html?_r=0

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/economic-downturn-excess-cancer-deaths-atun/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S027795361400269X

https://time.com/5864803/oxfam-hunger-covid-19/

https://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20121119/unemployment-toll-heart

We are going to kill more people from the lock down or what ever you want to call it, than are going to die from Covid.

Guest speaker Peckerwood: I swooned over your talk at university. I never told my (ex) girlfriend. You woo me, Mr. Peckerwood; wanna take a ride??

p.s. I have UV lighting

There is money in mask making and production of coal. Astroturfing is a separate thing. This is supposed scientific research that does not hold water. Koch brothers on climate change or public health is as believable as tobacco companies on smoking cessation.
That said, you should check arguments. Spin and cause of it is usually obvious.

Here’s a prediction, backed by good evidence, of the devastation that would result from a “herd immunity” policy. It also takes a dim view of the economic benefits of such a policy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/19/opinion/coronavirus-herd-immunity.html

On a side note, I saw a familiar name on the list of signatories shown in those tweets.
Christopher Shaw.

Of course. We could now consider Dr Shaw the Viruses’ Best Friend.
Personally, I pay no attention to an online petition unless it’s signed by Weedlord Bonerhitler.

Meanwhile, JAMA has just published a well-reasoned article by Omer et al (doi:10.1001/jama.2020.20892) on herd immunity, arguing that without an effective vaccine, it won’t work.

David

Yup, “herd immunity” does not work because there is no such thing as “herd immunity”.

The is only immunity acquired via either getting the disease and making sufficient antibodies, or immunity thru vaccination.

And even at 95% immunization rates there are still disease outbreaks. “Herd immunity” is non-existent.

I don’t have time to refute this astronomically dumb comment at the moment so I’ll allow Wikipedia to do the work: “Some individuals cannot become immune because of medical conditions, such as an immunodeficiency or immunosuppression, and for this group herd immunity is a crucial method of protection.[4][5] Once the herd immunity threshold has been reached, disease gradually disappears from a population.”

As I said before, try to refute this scenario:
A disease victim will infect certain number of people. If some people he or she are meet are immune (either because of previous disease or vaccination) they would not get disease. If, on average, less than one people get the disease, disease does not spread.
If you do not comment, you are obviously wrong.
Amount of vaccination depends on how infectious the disease is. 94 % applies to measles. There are, in addition, disease hot spots caused by antivaxxers.

I can’t work out if Aelxa is disputing the entire concept of herd immunity, which is wilfull ignorance, or if she is disputing the possibility of ever achieving herd immunity required levels in the real world.

MedicalYeti

Gezee Louise, like we do not know there are people who are immune compromised.

And Wikipedia??!!!???

Please find a real medical link.

Gee, what disease have you seen disappear. ..none. I see the cold and flu every year, it never goes away.

Herd Immunity does not exist, believe in it all you want………. but if 95% immunization rates for Measles does not result in herd immunity, then herd immunity just does not exist.

Maybe you believe in the Tooth Fairy, too.

NumberWang

The theory of “herd immunity” was developed at John Hopkins in the 1930s, and it stated that when about 60% of the local population caught and had the disease, the disease would then die-out due to sufficient numbers of the population having antibodies.

Well, the government thought if 60% of the population had antibodies via immunizations, then that would work to achieve “herd immunity”. Well, that did not work so they increased it to 70% , then 80% , then 90% …….

Do you finally get the picture?

I have posted the link previously from John Hopkins that says even at 93-95% there will be no “herd immunity” because the stupid theory does not work

That people keep blabbing about “herd immunity” is just unbelieveable. The hospital where the theory was developed says it is a bust, but the wining about “herd immunity” will not stop.

Grow up, you can achieve full 100% vaccination and still not have “herd immunity”, all you have is 100% of the population immunized.

Which is NOT “herd immunity”.

@Aelxa, I suggest watching this short video from Johns Hopkins for starters.

Obviously the people at JHU still think herd immunity is real. It’s a mathematical effect that when enough of the population is immune to a disease, the number infected in each successive replication cycle goes down and down and down until it reaches zero.

If herd immunity is non-existent, what is your explanation for why measles is not still circulating in the U.S. from the outbreak last year?

I presume you are referring to Hedrick’s seminal 1933 paper, although the term herd immunity was coined in 1923. It was a way of explaining and understanding the already observed cyclical nature of measles infections. That they underestimated how infectious measles was and is, or overestimated the protection provided by measles vaccination does not invalidate the underlying concept.

We have a lot to learn about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and Covid-19, but that does not make it a good idea just to let the virus circulate and infect people.

squirrelelite

And I suggest you read this article Tim John Hopkins that is titled “The Myth About Herd Immunity” which I have posted before…….

https://www.globalhealthnow.org/2019-12/myth-about-herd-immunity

Go down to the fourth paragraph….it says even having 93% immunization will not achieve “herd immunity” if the composition of the “herd” changes. Just taking a vacation, or getting a new circle of friends in the same area eliminates “herd immunity”.

Change the herd in any way, and it all falls apart. In other words, if any changes are made, you risk bringing in disease and your 93% immunization rate is worthless. All those immunizations will not prevent any disease and it’s spread in the community.

The measles outbreaks in the US always come from overseas, because there is no natural reservoir of the measles in North America.

You want to stop the measles from getting here? Institute quarantine of all individuals coming into the US from overseas. Or institute a mandatory blood test to prove the person coming from overseas is not carrying measles.

But immunizations will never achieve “herd immunity”, it only exists in isolated communities with no human interaction with people from outside the community who could bring in infection.

This next John Hopkins article calls “herd immunity” to be “a dangerous misconception”…….

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/from-our-experts/early-herd-immunity-against-covid-19-a-dangerous-misconception

I read the original theory, it says the same thing, change can eliminate “herd immunity” by destabilizing the herd composition. Try understanding the theory as it was written.

@Aelxa Anybody blabbing that vaccine coverage rate for herd immunity is 60%, or 90%, or something else does not know what she is speaking about. Required vaccination rate depends on how infectious pathogen is. If infected person infects on average 20 persons, it is 95%, if on average two persons, it is 50%.
An estimate of measles vaccine failure rate is here:
Dai B, Chen ZH, Liu QC, et al. Duration of immunity following immunization with live measles vaccine: 15 years of observation in Zhejiang Province, China. Bull World Health Organ. 1991;69(4):415-423.
It is under 2%, as very mild clinical measles.

I just read the article. Some comments you missed.

Paragraph 5:

Such a scenario unfolded in December 2015, when several thousand visitors to a California amusement park were exposed to measles. In total, 147 people were infected—most of whom were unvaccinated.

Paragraph 7:

This “immune amnesia” underscores the critical importance of measles vaccinations, which from 2000 to 2017 prevented more than 21 million deaths worldwide from measles alone.

The entire article argues for vaccination.

As for your comment on the fact that Measles outbreaks in the U.S. are due to people coming back from overseas and infectiing others, every time this happened, the patient zero was un- or under-vaccinated. You are not making the point you think you are.

@Aelxa Somebody speaking about herd immunity needed to stop a disease does not know what she is speaking about. Procents depends on how infectious the disease is. As a toy model, it would 95%. if an infected person infects, on average, 20 persons, and 50% if 2 persons. You should name the disease you are speaking about.
An estimation of measles vaccination failure rate is here:
Dai B, Chen ZH, Liu QC, et al. Duration of immunity following immunization with live measles vaccine: 15 years of observation in Zhejiang Province, China. Bull World Health Organ. 1991;69(4):415-423.
It is under 2%, failures being very mild clinical measles.
Your first link mentions correctly that if population of New York is replaced with non immune people, there would be no herd immunity in New York. How big you think this effect is in real world ?
Your second link is about natural herd immunity and COVID. It argues, rightly, that too many people would die before natural immunity has been achieved.
In all, I remember classical Bible citation: “There is no God”, Psalms 14:1.

Aarno

I am writing about the theory of “herd immunity” as it was originally conceived, not as you want it to be.

“Herd immunity” did not specify a particular disease, and has nothing to do with the deathrate of a disease, or the replication rate of a disease,etc.

Herd immunity POSTULATED that if a certain percentage of the population had antibodies against the disease, then the rest of the population who had not contracted the disease would be protected from contracting the disease by the physical presence of the 60% who had antibodies.

The original theory said if 60% of the population had antibodies, then those people were enough to prevent further spread of the disease, by forming a living barrier to further spread of the disease…and the outbreak of the disease would end. Period.

In real life it does not matter how high the percentage of people who have antibodies against a particular disease gets, they do not form a barrier to disease that protects those without antibodies.

The rest of the population who do not have antibodies to the disease will NOT be protected from getting the disease, and can easily get sick with the illness.

This mean result means “herd immunity” does not exist.

The only immunity is to have antibodies, either by getting the disease and recovering, or through having a vaccination.

Please look at the articles again, I know you are not a native English speaker, so try understanding the concept by repetition, read the articles a few more times as they are written.

I do not understand why so many people have a hard time understanding theory AS IT WAS WRITTEN.

So much nonsense has been written about “herd immunity” that has nothing to do with the real theory.

It is like seeing your mother’s recipe for chocolate cake being warped into a chocolate-based meat stew. And then have people say to you that they know what chocolate cake tastes like from eating the stew.

Squirrelelite

The cyclical nature came from almost all people getting the measles as children, and thus being completely immune as adults. No one catches the Measles twice.

When the adults then had children many years later, then another wave of measles would happen that would infect the children.The infection always came from someone traveling from far away, usually an immigrant to the US.

All the immune adults around the children did not protect them. If “herd immunity” existed, then all those immune adults would have prevented the kids from contracting the measles. Instead there was no protection.

Julian

I did not miss anything in those two articles, including the fact that MOST of those who got infected were unvaccinated.

It is well known that not 100% of those who are vaccinated are total immune, due to poor antibody development in some individuals.

And for the last time I am not against vaccinations. I am against poorly made and now radical experimental vaccines with completely inadequate testing.

Do you really think I would have posted that second link if I were against all vaccines?

And the topic was “herd immunity” and how it was a postulated theory that does not work in real life, making “herd immunity” nonexistent.

From second link:
“Higher unemployment due to economic crisis and austerity measures is associated with higher number of cancer deaths. Universal health coverage protects against these deaths. That there are needless deaths is a major societal concern”
Do you support universal health coverage ? Health care of unemployed people is always an issue.
From third link:
“Oxfam says Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Haiti are “extreme hunger hotspots” that are likely to be severely affected by the pandemic.”
All these countries have other problems than COVID

Aarno, So lets just sacrifice millions of these people in ‘Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Haiti” ’cause you know they are going to die anyway” besides, they ain’t white.
To the people who responded to my previous post, you are so erudite in you comments, yours’ are a sad commentary on our modern educational system. The internet is the new school yard and you are the new bullies.

@ scott

So lets just sacrifice millions of these people

You know, I hope you never wrote that we should just isolate the vulnerables and let the virus run around among the healthy population…

Aarno’s point was that these people’s troubles are likely more COVID-related (as in, the current sanitary situation made already-existing situations worse, because resources disappeared or were redistributed) than lockdown-related.

Now, if you have a solution, we are all ears.

@ Scott,
The problem is with the pandemic and not with what we do against it. Lockdowns are bad, but letting the virus run its course is also bad.
Poor countries, don’t have the luxury to get into lockdown, because people need to do some job, to earn money for the day. People who are ill, are not able to work are are also not able to produce, or buy food, so the hunger will come, whatever a government will do.
It’s the same with economics. With a lockdown, shops will be closed and it will have a negative effect on the economy. Without a lockdown, more people will get ill, causing problems in healthcare, which costs a lot of money, which is also bad for the economy. Besides, if it is not save to go outside, because one might pick-up the virus and people will have less money, this is bad for the economy as well.

Just speak for yourself. You actually would sacrifice old people, would you ? I of course did not mean that people in mentioned countries should be sacrificed, but that cause of hunger is something else than COVID (war, socialism, kleptocracy and drought).

Julian Frost

Obvious you still do not understand the theory of “herd immunity”.

If you looked closely at all my links, one of them shows you infected people surrounded by immune people (immune by either getting the disease and recovering or by immunization), and the immune people are forming a barrier, keeping the infected away from the susceptible individuals.

Now that is how “herd immunity” in theory is supposed to work.

But since there is no “herd” due to constant moving away beyond the home turf….. and Disneyland is definitely no one’s home turf and brings people even from different lands together. Measles always comes from overseas since there is no measles reservoir in North America.

Hence “herd immunity” is a complete bust as a theory, which is what the article is pointing out. The only protection from a disease is to stay in your herd where you have the immune surrounding you, or to get an immunization before you leave your “herd” area.

As to vaccinations, I take those vaccinations I determine are safe and worth taking. I have had many vaccinations…polio, smallpox, tetnus every ten years, etc. That people like you continue to call me an “antivaxxer” is completely stupid. You have rocks in your head if you call someone who questions poorly made or experimental vaccines, an “antivaxxer”. I call people like you “Loyal Lemmings” because you think all immunizations are good.

If I do not take a immunization and then get a disease that is my choice and is not endangering anyone but me. Each person who refuses a vaccine makes the same choice.

Stupidity is taking a vaccine known to have serious problems, or taking one like the flu vaccine which protects you from a disease that mutates each year, making the vaccine worthless in my opinion so I do not take it. That is my choice, I select the ones I want to take.

Now read the article again and try to understand that there is no “herd immunity” in a mobile community. “Herd immunity” was a theory that did not pan out in real life, and to keep talking as if it was real, is sheer stupidity.

There is an actual paper about herd immunity and COVID.
Fontanet, A., Cauchemez, S. COVID-19 herd immunity: where are we?. Nat Rev Immunol 20, 583–584 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-020-00451-5
Paper estimates that herd immunity rate for COVID 19 is 62.8%. Note that measles is exceptionally contagious.
Basic herd immunity model actually supposes total mixing of population (lots of travelling around). It is definitely not “barrier around you”, It is about probability you infecting people people you meet.
Where you get your data about serious side effects. From antivax sites, obviously. You still believe that vaccines cause autism, do you not. It is actually genetic condition, you know.
If you get sick, you would infect other people. This is not their choice.

Aarno, you have a lack of understanding regarding covid.

First of all it is a disease where some ppl dont spread at all and some are superspreaders
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/09/k-overlooked-variable-driving-pandemic/616548/

Second. Herd immunity threshold is much lower in reality, its around 15-20%
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.27.20081893v2
https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2020/06/30/is_coronavirus_burning_out_after_20_of_a_population_is_infected_111446.html
.

Aarno

I have to laugh at that paper, the “herd immunity” theory does not suppose a through mixing of society at all. The immune are supposed to protect the not immune by being a literal physical barrier. To say otherwise is to spread false information.

Do you really think the virus is going to say “Well, 62.8% of the people got COVID-19 so we can stop now.” ?????

They thought the same thing about the Measles, and the Measles is not more contagious than COVID-19 is. The only difference is that everyone who got the Measles had obvious symptoms, like the spots all over the body. With COVID-19 there are tons of asymptomatic people running around spreading it like crazy.

I have not read a single anti-vax site, and if they associate with QAnon I do not want to read them.

Where do I get my data about serious side-effects? Well, if you notice I use links to medical sites, like John Hopkins. I do not use Wikipedia,etc as links. Some links might be news sites but the links to the medical studies are in those news links.

There is a form of Autism that is genetic, Autism existed before vaccines and the chemicals we pollute our environment with, but it was extremely rare, only one in over 2000 persons.

Now we have Autism in one in less than 50 people. If you think vaccines are not in someway involved, you are blind.

The actual process going on is, I believe, a combination of certain genes involved in detoxification, because 98% of people with Autism have either MTHFR genes C677T and or A1298C while only about 60% of people normally have these genes. Combined with fortification of foods with Folic Acid, these MTHFR genes make turning folic acid into usable folate hard if you have one copy to almost impossible if you have two copies.

A lack of usable folate affects the development of the fetuses brain and nervous system. Some children are born obviously already Autistic due to this process.

Other children seem to be fine, and react normally, then suddenly change within days of getting a vaccine. My son reacted from the first day of getting his six month shots. His legs started turning blue, then he started having periods of blank staring the next three days, and then I found in cold, blue, and no heartbeat or breathing on the fourth night.

So I believe it was the high folic acid dose the doctors had me on of 1,500mg a day, plus the one copy of C677T my son has, plus the vaccine he got.

I have two copies of C677T, so I was not converting much of the folic acid I was taking orally at all. This meant my son was getting high doses of folic acid from me because he was breast-feeding exclusively.

He was exposed to high doses of folic acid in the womb because they had me taking 1,500mg of folic acid prenatally but was born fine, had a perfect APGAR score, and at six months was a very alert and interactive child even with strangers.

The human body can take a certain amount of insults and stresses to it, but there can come a point were the balance is tipped, and brain damage can occur.

If I get sick I would not infect other people, because I do not leave my house except to go to the doctors who need to see me in their office. Someone else shops for me, and I rarely see anyone in person. When I go out, I wear a facemask plus a clear face shield.

I take a medicine that makes me susceptible to infection, so I avoid people during a pandemic or any season where things like the flu are going around.

People who do not take certain vaccines are not stupid you know, we take necessary precautions, and are aware of the possible repercussions of getting a certain illness. We have no desire to catch or spread a disease, but if we feel a certain vaccine is questionable we do not take that vaccine.

You can get the vaccine and be “safe” if you want, that is your choice, no one is stopping you.

Aarno, look at the link you posted about italy. Look at the two peaks of daily new cases and the two peaks of daily new deaths.

Notice something? Looks like CFR rate dropped? Maybe its not strictly herd immunity, but what is your explanation for why covid became less deadly in a mere 6 months?
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/compare-flu-pandemic-1918-and-covid-19-caution-180975040/ cant be mutations. Coronaviruses dont mutate per se.

Why arent all maskless Trump supporters who go to his rallies dead yet?

You do not understand herd immunity. Perhaps that barrier thing comes from the fact that you just think yourself. If you consider possibility that you can infect others, it is would be easier to understand. Virus does know if 62.8 % is immune, Number comes from possible infections minus infections prevented by immunity
“They said same thing about measles.” I think a citation is needed here. Find that infamous 1930 paper from Johns Hopkins.
Actually, measles is contagious before rash. Contagiousness depends how effective pathogen spreading is. Measles is very effective here.
You cite two known autism genes. There are many others. There is a meta analysis :
https://acamh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpp.12499
Genetic autism is.
Of course, there are many studies about autism and vaccines. Like, in Japan, they stopped vaccinations and autism rate went up. (I am sure that Johns Hopkins does not say that vaccines cause autism).
Btw, MHTFR and folic acid are not involved in detoxification. (what toxin you think is involved ?)
You could infect people before you know you are sick. It is shocking that a supposed
medical professional does not know that. That is why we have quarantine for some diseases.

Aarno

Here is a link to the original “herd immunity ” paper written by A.W. Hedrick ……

https://www.deepdyve.com/lp/ou_press/monthly-estimates-of-the-child-population-susceptible-to-measles-1900-cRtiLHH41a

They have a 2 week free access option, so you can read it without paying.

Everyone knows Measles is contagious before the spots show up, it is how the disease can easily spread far before anyone knows they are infected.

If you read the two John Hopkins articles, the first shows “herd immunity” is still not occurring in the US at 93% immunization rates, and that anyone without antibodies is not protected by those with antibodies, and only full immunization of the population will stop outbreaks from occurring. The second article says basicly the same thing, only immunization will prevent catching Measles.

The problem is that with an air borne disease, body contact with the infected person is not required, thus having a barrier of people with antibodies will not prevent infection. The infectious virus just passes in the air over the immune people to the person who has no antibodies. Hedrick did not know Measles was an air borne infection when making up the theory of “herd immunity”.

The MTHFR genes are not “Autism genes”, they are methylation genes. Methylation is involved in every important function of the human body. Those functions are converting hormones into the various forms needed, converting vitamins into various forms, detoxifying metals and chemicals, even expression of other genes. I do not usually use a non-medical link, but this article has a simple explanation of what methylation is involved in……

https://www.bioceuticals.com.au/mobile/article/all/all-about-methylation-and-what-you-can-do-to-keep-yours-healthy

There are tons of medical articles on methylation out there to read but each focuses on methylation of a single process.

I have two copies of C677T, if it caused Autism I would be Autistic, and I am not. It is merely associated with Autism, because 98% of people with Autism have either C677T and/or A1298C.

Autism is like Heart Disease, there is not a single factor by itself which causes it. In Heart Disease it is a combination of diet, exercise, air quality, smoking and certain genes which can cause you to develop Heart Disease. In Autism it is the same, there is not a single factor by itself that causes Autism, except for about 2% of Autistic persons who have two copies of the gene ACTL6B…….

https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/study-links-gene-to-inherited-form-of-autism/

Please note that other de novo genes are only implicated, which means they do not cause autism, but are found more often in Autistic people.

By the way, folic acid is involved in detoxification, because it is folic acid which is converted into methylfolate , with methylfolate circulating throughout the body which is usually contributing the methyl molecule to run the detoxification process. And the hormone process, etc, etc.

Q-Ball

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is mutating, that have recorded over 725 versions of the virus. However, the new versions are getting more infectious, and some versions are less deadly……

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7375973/

Since no one is keeping track of the people who go to Trumpf rallies, who knows how many have died, or how many people they infect who have died. No tracking is done, Trumpf does not want it done. Guess why. It might show they are a big help in keeping this Pandemic rolling along.

That is what happens when you make a public health need to wear a mask, into a political symbol.

@Aelxa This was the famous paper saying that 60% is enough for herd immunity to any disease ? So it was actually about measles, and saying 93 % is not enough for herd immunity ? Are you reading Robert Kennedy Jr ?
There is other experiment. Measles was almost eradicated before Mr Wakefield got greedy. It did not require 100% herd immunity.
If you think that there are no immunity against airborne diseases, you are a total ignoramus. IgA is secreted.
MTHFR is one of autism genes, not the autism gene. You perhaps still not understand the difference.
You should post a paper about MTHFR detoxifying a specific toxin. Liver N acetyltransferases do this. They add an acetyl group to xenobiotic compounds, making them easier to remove.
Genes have different types of mutations. Not all of them have same effect. Second thing is called penetration. Not all people having mutation have the expected effect.

@Q Ball (layman) I did check the death rate. It has started to raise very recently. One cannot say anything about mortality rate, yet.

“these people’s troubles are likely more COVID-related (as in, the current sanitary situation made already-existing situations worse, because resources disappeared or were redistributed) than lockdown-related”
If people are starving, Covid is worse, wealthier countries could out bid the poor countries for the medical supplies needed. Lockdown contributed to the shortages of all kinds of products (remember toilet paper). The food chain in 3rd world countries is a very fragile (if a farmer in the midwest can’t get his grain to market and the shipper can’t load it on a ship to get it to the poorer countries , because of the lockdown) people in those countries are, and will continue to die, more and more of them are starving making it easier for Covid to finish the job our lockdown started. Our lock down response to Covid has contributed (and will continue to contribute) to a large loss of lives in poor nations who just happened to be of a different race.

On a lighter note, to paraphrase Forest Gump, “and just like that we eliminated the flu from the the world”
No flu cases since April, per the WHO

https://apps.who.int/flumart/Default?ReportNo=6

Midwest farmer is not main source of developing countries’ food. No rice, no white maize (yellow maize is for animals), no cassava .. You get the point. Another thing is that importing food damages local agriculture, and so food aid from USA is actually counterproductive.

Economics applies here. I used corn as an example, the price of corn has gone up about .80 (cents) from 1 year ago, corn and rice are major farm products that govern the price of food stuffs all around the world (corn and rice influence the price of sorgum, soy beans, etc.), fed stock animals diets can be shifted to cheaper products, humans have a harder time adjusting their consuming diets and can’t process some of the food stocks grown.
Africa accounts for over 10% of exports of corn grown in the US and rice sold to African countries accounts for 12% of US exports of rice. (From the USDA for 2019)
If you live in a country with a average daily income that is below 10 dollars a day the 80 cents in increase cost due to the Covid can mean the difference of just enough food or starvation.
To people living in wealthier nations, that measure their daily income in 80 to 100 dollars a day, 80 cents is not a big deal but if you daily income in under 10 dollars a day it is a very large hit to not only their immediate needs but to their long term health.
We locked down to save people’s lives in wealthy countries, only to have people in poorer countries die, to save the wealthy, it is a sad economic reality.

If you don’t like that example try the price of PPE, which have tripled since Covid hit. The wealthy countries had the money to out bid the poorer countries (which just happen to be people of color) and thus save the wealthy and condemned the poor people.

Since i didn’t post about damaging the local agriculture aspect nor did Orac address that in this blog, that is for another discussion.

US agricultural exports to Africa go mainly to Arab countries. Developing countries for sure, but not ones in Oxfam list.
Sub-Saharan African staple is white maize, not yellow maize from US (or from anywhere else). White maize is imported, if exporter is not an African country, from Mexico.
West Africa imports lots of rice, but not from US. Asia is the source. Recently Nigeria has instituted import tax on rice

Aaron

American farmers raise both yellow corn and white corn, and both yellow corn and white corn are sold in our grocery stores as human food.

We have raw white or yellow corn to cook and eat. We have yellow or white corn meal to bake with. We have yellow or white grits to make porridge with.

The idea that yellow corn is only for animals, is only a European prejudice against yellow corn. In fact, cooked yellow sweet corn on the cob is much tastier than white corn. But Europeans do not eat it, so do not know what they are missing out on tasting.

American farmers also grow rice, mostly long grain rice, but some grow Basmati and other more exotic rice varieties popular overseas, so less of these rice varieties are being imported to the US.

Even cassava grows here, in California, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Florida…. however the US is the largest consumer of cassava and import huge amounts of it from South America and Africa, as it requires 8-11 months of hot weather to grow.

Right now 25% of our pork production is going to China. China even bought Smithfield Foods, the biggest meat processor in the US.

China has been buying pig farms in countries like Poland, and where it is cheaper to raise pigs.

China buys US wheat, rice, etc because they can not feed their own growing population. The US used to have enough food grown here to feed the US for a year. Now we are buying cheap cassava to put in our foods, and selling more of the wheat, soy and rice overseas to China.

https://www.heritage.org/asia/commentary/why-chinas-food-crisis-could-get-worse-amid-pests-pestilence

People are not paying attention to the ingredients in the foods they purchase in the US, but I am seeing more and more products using cassava in the form of “tapioca starch” or “tapioca flour”.

Poor countries are using more of their farming land to grow food for China, and with China’s increase in importing food from North & South America and Africa, people living where the food is being imported from will start to see the shortage of food in their stores and on their tables, as has been happening in Africa for over a decade.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/606601/

Aarno

The problem is not US Food Aid, the problem is African governments removing small farmers from fertile land they farmed for untold generations, and moving them to new villages where the land is poor……..

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN1DS1FK

Why are they doing this? So the government can then lease the land to foreign companies, or foreign governments like China, for large fees, to grow biofuels. Or in exchange for infrastructure building like in Brazil which grows soybeans for China’s pigs.

The damages to local food growing is due to African governments policy, not imported food.

And African fishermen are being pushed out by Chinese trawlers…….

https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/environment-sustainability/third-west-african-country-this-year-decries-arrival-of-chinese-trawlers

Africa is in the midst of a new kind of colonialism, one where the local African national government is allowing foreign countries to take over the land and the sea for money.

The way things are going, you can expect the US to start decreasing the food aid given to the UN for distribution to needy areas around the World. That food aid was excess production that our government bought to support American farmers by keeping prices profitable, and distributed the food elsewhere.

Right now there are more and more Americans without jobs and going hungry. So we need that “excess” food right here in the USA.

@Aelxa China may import US pork, but there is no famine there. MIT has OEC, which maps international trade. China import data is here:
https://oec.world/en/profile/country/chn/
Go to import data and double click pork meat. US indeed imports pork to China, but ir has competitors.
There is an article about Kenya’s yellow maize import:
https://nation.africa/kenya/business/yellow-maize-imports-hitch-hits-feed-firms-204408
a) it is definitely for animals
b) it is difficult to export maize top an African country
c) the source was Ukraine
There is OEC data for Kenya
https://oec.world/en/profile/country/ken/
Now check corn. It comes from Africa. Rice comes from Asia

@Aelxa Food aid from USA does not help either. Better way is to buy food from African farmers, as far it is possible. World Food Program is actually doing this. It would help developing African agriculture.

Aarno

I have no idea what you are trying to say about corn. What am I supposed to see? The USA is the largest grower of corn in the World…….

https://www.statista.com/statistics/254292/global-corn-production-by-country/

Of course in the US alot of that corn goes to making alcohol to put in gasoline, to extend the gas..

An African country, Nigeria, does not get on the list of corn growers until #13

And I wrote that China was buying up pig farms in other countries like Poland, you do not need to write the US has compitition, I already wrote about it.

Regarding rice, of course Asia grows the most with China in first place, then India,etc. They eat the most rice in Asia, they should be growing the most. The US is not on the list. No African country is on the list….

https://www.statista.com/statistics/255945/top-countries-of-destination-for-us-rice-exports-2011/

However, when it comes to exporting rice, the US is #5 on the list…..

https://www.statista.com/statistics/255947/top-rice-exporting-countries-worldwide-2011/

@Aelxa What I am trying to say is that US grows lots of yellow corn. Africa consumes lots of white corn. And of course, US corn is mainly used for animal fodder.

@Aelxa There is usage statistics of corn:
https://www.iowacorn.org/corn-uses/
Actually exported corn is probably used for animal feed, too. Use for ethanol is actually 27%, so it is not true that most corn is used for ethanol production.
US corn export data is found here:
https://oec.world/en/profile/country/usa/
Go to product export and double click rectangle tagged corn. You would notice that most exports to Africa goes to Arab states, though South Africa, Nigeria and Guinea Bissau imported some.
Remember that this thread was originally about US corn and African hunger.

If people are starving, Covid is worse, wealthier countries could out bid the poor countries for the medical supplies needed. Lockdown contributed to the shortages of all kinds of products (remember toilet paper).

And this will be different without lockdowns how?
Toilet paper (1), I’ll grant you, but medical supplies? We would still be rushing to buy them.

(1) in many poor countries, the lack of toilet paper is not the most pressing issue, as they are lacking in water, and food. And actual toilets.

Again, I was attempting to use an example that people who could read this blog could relate to. and you did make my point about food
You might want to do some research on the subject but about 80% of this earths’ population doesn’t use toilet paper, so their would not be a real shortage in those countries.
With lockdowns we were at a 4 day supply of fresh meat, large baking companies were down to 1/3 production, milk and dairy industry were stressed to the breaking point, the manufacturing of PPE was curtailed, it was only because of the DPA that we were able to avert disaster.

None of foods you mentioned are relevant to Africa. It is more like maize porridge and live chicken from a local hawker. The porridge could be made from other starchy staple.

Aarno

Scott was saying the US was down to 4 days worth of food.

American farmers were pouring out milk onto the ground, there was no way to get it to the factories, etc.

There was little bread in the stores, meat display cases were empty here in the US.

Try reading what he wrote in the context of where he is from.

The DPA is the clue, Defense Production Act…..

https://www.fema.gov/disasters/defense-production-act

Aarno

Smithfield, JBS and Tyson had to close 20 meatpacking plants due to COVID-19 outbreaks, closings ordered by the local health departments……

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idINKBN26K334

The plants only re-opened in April after trump ordered them open, because there was little meat in many stores all over the USA. Lockdown had nothing to do with the lack of meat, it was because the plants were shutdown due to workers being infected with a very contagious disease.

And you have to wonder if the meat is safe, the infection rate in the US is so much higher than it should be. Yet I can never find any testing being done on meat for the SARS- CoV-2 virus.

However, the worst part is that hundreds of meatpacking workers have died and their families are being denied death benefits.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/opinion/white-house/519645-trump-ordered-meatpacking-plants-open-now-workers-are-left-holding-the%3famp

And meatpacking plants are still COVID-19 hotspots, with outbreaks in meatpacking plants all over the country. But people do not care because most of these workers are not even US citizens.

Well, I missed a new paper that found frozen fish can transmit COVID-19…..

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.06.284695v1

Seems SARS- CoV-2 virus can live for a week at 4°C on fish.

And in this article shrimp for Ecuador was found to be positive for COVID-19….

http://www.news-medical.net/amp/news/20200819/Fresh-and-frozen-food-can-harbor-SARS-CoV-2-for-at-least-21-days.aspx

More concerning is they found the virus alive after 21 days, and there was no decrease in the viral count.

I have told friends to clean the outside of meat packaging since March, as we know the virus can live in the outside of the plastic package for days. Now we have to be very concerned about what is inside the package.

And in August the Chinese said that chicken from Brazil that they tested was contaminated with COVID-19.

Be very careful people, handle your protein as if it can infect you……it likely can.

Aelxa, those are facts but you are not close to the truth, me thinks. Yes, covid is found on food packaging. But what are the viral loads? And what percentage of food tests are positive? For example, China may test imported food over a million times on covid, then publicizes the few positive samples and ignores the 999.999 negative ones? Dont be scared by fake news. Its should not be a major source of transmission.

But you seem to be going in the right direction with autism. Definately something environmental is causing the increase. Me thinks its EMFs or GMOs, because those are persistent environmental effects, and vaccines may just be a minor contributor. You dont get the same vaccine twice, right? But that MTHFR hypothesis is interesting. I wonder…

@Aelxa What you are arguing about ? COVID 19 caused problems in the meatpacking plants. Trump ordered them to open, with provision that owners are not responsible, if workers go COVID. (No lockdowns here.)

Aarno

I am not arguing, I am trying to get to understand what is going on.

First, you said that the lack of meat could not be due to lockdown. And I explained the plants were closed for disease by the health departments, not lockdown. Thus causing a lack of meat in the supermarkets.

The workers who got sick and died with COVID-19 should get Workman’s Compensation, which is a insurance program, not a payment from the factory owners.

If your job makes you sick, or injures you, or kills you, then the INSURANCE is supposed the pay medical bills, and monetary compensation. If you read the articles more carefully it would have explained that to you.

The factory owners have zero to do with it, other than having to pay the premiums for the insurance.

@Aelxa Factory owners are supposed to buy protective equipment to prevent diseases, including COVID 19. I very much doubt meat packer´s insurance contributions, probably Medicaid pays.

I have a question for those far more knowledgable than me. Do we have any idea of how many diseases in the past have disappeared because of herd immunity without a vaccine? Vaccines have been developed because simply letting people get ill hasn’t worked so why would it work now?

@ Sophy:

According to Wikipedia, ( elimination of infectious diseases) only small pox has been eliminated ( another illness only affects cattle)
but a few others are on their way out, including polio.( other diseases caused by parasites are also disappearing)
Notice that vaccines played the most important role. Polio only occurs in extremely reduced numbers from a mutation of a virus in oral vaccines in areas with poor sanitation and poor vaccine coverage.
Other articles if you google disease that are eliminated or similar ( World Economics, Encyclopaeias))

Taking the ‘without a vaccine’ part…

Sadly, the way your question is framed, I think the answer to your first question is pretty much impossible to know. There are lots of diseases that have disappeared without a vaccine (see the first SARS in 2003, for example) but that hit ‘herd immunity’ only in the loosest possible definition in that we isolated the part of the herd that had it and let it run its course until it ran out.

Honestly, I suspect every case of ‘herd immunity’ pre-vaccine is either a case of:
– the disease killed off people without resistance and we’re all descended from the survivors, or
– the disease is so prevalent and minor that everybody gets a subclinical infection when young and nobody really cares except for those with severely depressed immune systems.

So the answer to the second question is pretty much ‘general herd immunity without a vaccine only historically worked under certain circumstances that are already demonstrably not true for CoViD-19, and at least some of those circumstances wiped out large numbers of people first anyway’.

Diseases spread by Europeans, especially in Australia and the Americas, to populations without previous contact to those diseases resulted in massive mortality rates. The populations must have stabilised at some point, although sometimes that involved the entire population being dead. All in all, not a good model – unless you’re a narcissistic sociopath with a side-interest in eugenics perhaps.

@ Jenora

– the disease killed off people […]

Yeah, it was pretty much my initial thoughts on the question.
A disease will keep being around as long as there is a reservoir and susceptible people in the population.
It’s not impossible historically that in places, a pathogen lacking an outside reservoir died off (at least locally) either after having infected everybody, and pretty much everybody was immune. Or after killing off everybody. Or a mix of the two.
But it’s a bit difficult to figure out if any of that happened, historical chronicles are not always giving enough clues to identify a specific pathogen.
It would be especially fuzzy in the “all died” scenario. No direct witness left.

Eh, scenario for an adventure/catastrophe fictional story: the heroes find a forgotten city where everybody died of some plague. And then catch and spread the millenia-old pathogen.
I am sure there is already a few movies on this topic.
But I have no idea if we know of such abandoned/forgotten cities IRL.

– the disease is so prevalent and minor […]

Ah, I haven’t considered that one. Not an eradication per se, but indeed a case of achieving herd immunity. Or adaptation?

if you eliminated everyone from the Great Barrington list who wasn’t trained and experienced in a relevant field (such as infectious diseases, epidemiology and public health), how many signees would be left?

I’ve heard this document being discussed in glowing terms amongst the loons I survey… which leads me to despair :
whether it’s purely health oriented like anti-vax/ alt med OR more politically inclined hogwash like Q now receiving widespread consideration, I ask:
:
How can adults with relationships, children, careers and assets who are supposedly educated to some extent ( secondary school or beyond) and function in the real world, day to day, fall for this crap?

I think that they fail in three ways, by being unable to ascertain that:
— the science ( or data) is suspect: studies are poorly done, not part of consensus or related to general data in the area of investigation, stories are unrealistic, etc
— the sources are unreliable such as alt med aggregators, conspiracy sites, tabloids, word of mouth, FaceBook,, reddit, 4chan, 8kun etc
.– they don’t discern that people ( including themselves) who present or believe in
outlandish scenarios/ “science” may be motivated by profit, fame, self-promotion, emotional responses, contrarian tendencies, arrogance- that is, reasons not entirely based in a realistic appraisal of the world.
. ,
i despair. Even if their partisans only number 5, 10 or 20%. ,

If you don’t know the temperature that Listerine (Covid killing mouth wash) needs to reach to produce the maximum of ethyl alcohol (high school chemistry lab class) you should not be posting here.

You just need to git good. Listerine?? You have not got good.. Yes, setting ppl on fire might curtail the spread. I know yer views are not popular but that is because you are a fukkin loony.

didn’t know science was a popularity contest.
I guess all the jocks that were voted most popular were the smartest kids in your college

In the goofy spirit of the “The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis,” I hereby call for a suitable independent group to investigate whether COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus.

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