the appeal of a group of scientists

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the appeal of a group of scientists


No to the lockdown, yes to a “targeted protection” of vulnerable individuals to let the young and healthier people develop herd immunity. This was suggested by a large group of scientists, doctors and university professors who signed an online petition and a document called The Great Barrington Declaration which is already arousing debate and raising doubts within the international scientific community and from the authorities.

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we are very concerned about the harmful effects on physical and mental health caused by the policies adopted by governments on Covid-19, and we recommend an approach we call” Focused Protection ” (Focused Protection) “. Thus begins the declaration, drawn up and signed in Great Barrington, in the United States of America on October 4, 2020, by Dr. Martin Kulldorff (professor of medicine at Harvard University, biostatistician and epidemiologist), of Dr. Sunetra Gupta (professor epidemiologist at the University of Oxford) and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (professor at Stanford University Medical School, physician, epidemiologist, health economist). The petition has already obtained the support of about 6 thousand scientists and over 58 thousand people not belonging to the health sector.

The letter, therefore, suggests letting the virus run its course among young people and people in good health by aiming to protect and isolate those who are most vulnerable (by age and clinical condition). The ultimate goal is herd immunity, which occurs when a sufficient portion of the population becomes immune to a disease, either because they have been vaccinated or because they have contracted the virus, are cured and developed antibodies.

“The current lockdown policies – reads the statement – are producing devastating effects on public health, in the short and long term. Findings (just to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, less cancer screening and deterioration in mental health – resulting in increased mortality in the years to come, with the working class and the younger members of society who will suffer the brunt of it ”.

The solution proposed by the scientists is that of a “focused protection”: “The most humane approach, which balances the risks and benefits in achieving herd immunity, is to allow those at minimal risk of death to live. normally their lives to build immunity to the virus through natural infection, better protecting those at highest risk ”.

Speaking of herd immunity during the first months of the health emergency, the virologist Roberto Burioni he had explained the mechanism with one metaphor.

Lightning strikes a tree that ignites: the forest is dry, the plants covered with resin, the fire spreads. A tree can set two trees on fire, those two trees will set fire to four, then eight, sixteen and so on. The same thing happens with viruses. Now let’s imagine the same forest as before and that someone passed by cutting down most of the plants. In that case, even if lightning falls and sets a tree on fire, the flames do not spread, because the plant to which the fire should be spread is too far away. It doesn’t need to rain, and all the lightning bolts in the world can fall. In this very sparse forest, a few single trees may catch fire, but the flames will not spread. How do we cut plants in real life to make life difficult for viruses? Quite simply: with vaccines. As far as the virus is concerned, vaccinated people practically no longer exist, like plants that have been cut down and can no longer catch fire. Vaccinated individuals are no longer infectable, and don’t count for the virus. This is the condition that is called “herd immunity”.

Meanwhile, the proposal contained in the Great Barrington Declaration it is already provoking criticism from the international scientific community and the authorities. Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leed, told the Bbc: “Vulnerable people come from all sectors of society and deserve to be treated like others. In addition, even people with moderate infections can have long-term effects, lasting up to months. Finally, it is not yet clear whether the infection leaves a long-term immunity or not ”.

Skepticism also on the part of the authorities. In the UK, as reported by HuffPost Uk, a government spokesman said that, while considering the full range of scientific opinions over the course of the pandemic, “it is not possible to rely on an unproven assumption that people at lower risk, should they contract the virus, would avoid to pass it on to those who are most vulnerable. The danger, for the weakest subjects, is that of ending up in hospital or, worse, in an intensive care unit ”.

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