An idea from 3 professors

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical, and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed. Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza. As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity. The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. 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. Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 4th October 2020 To sign the declaration, follow this link (will be live later today):

Why the contribution is important

It is not strictly speaking my idea. My idea is that it should be adopted in Scotland. Now. These are professors at the very top of their field - virology and epidemiology.

by alanmacrae41 on October 05, 2020 at 06:28PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.2
Based on: 64 votes


  • Posted by GSS October 05, 2020 at 18:41

    Are you "retired people living at home"??? They are not necessarily more vulnerable than some younger people. Do not destroy someone's mental and emotional health because they are a certain age. A lot of 'experts' are great at protecting physical health but at the cost of mental health.
  • Posted by MG64 October 05, 2020 at 19:30

    This is a very dangerous call for herd immunity, which scientific evidence and most scientists including the field of epidemiology do not support. Rather making bold unsubstantiated statements the above authors need to provide scientific evidence to support their frivolous and dangerous argument. The world health organisation does not to my knowledge support herd immunity without a vaccine. Worldwide Immunisation using vaccines have in many cases practically eliminated dangerous diseases including Polio, TB and so on.
  • Posted by RTD October 05, 2020 at 20:41

    Nope. I think you would find it impossible to shield the vulnerable while letting Covid work it's way through the rest of the population. Aside from not just the elderly being vulnerable, what about the parent of teenagers and young adults living at home? The parents are often in their 50's so at increased risk from Covid. How do you prevent hospital acquired infections if the is high level of circulating virus? How to you staff hospitals and schools, when there is unchecked spread? The only way for society to be able to function normally is if there is low community transmission.
  • Posted by jakkyb7 October 05, 2020 at 21:20

    It’s time to learn to live with this. The virus is showing that it’s not going away but we cannot hide away for ever either.
  • Posted by DawnC1234 October 05, 2020 at 22:58

    Can we have more transparency and evidence on herd immunity? Has this been shown to have been effective in Sweden?
  • Posted by drkatiebrooks October 06, 2020 at 00:21

    Although risk factors are understood at a broad level (eg, older people are mpre at risk than younger people), we still can't predict how an individual will fare if they get Covid-19. Many lives will be lost or blighted by long-term effects of the illness if this approach is taken.
  • Posted by Angelac October 06, 2020 at 07:08

    Is there proof that you definately cannot catch Covid 19 more than once?
  • Posted by mstirner October 06, 2020 at 07:36

    These recommendations are in line with the 2019 WHO pandemic guidelines (lockdowns aren’t), and should be self evident. The virus isn’t going to go away, and there’s no sense in the fit and healthy being sequestered when they could be contributing to the health and safety of the vulnerable
  • Posted by mac1991 October 06, 2020 at 07:45

    Please remove comments advocating for young people being as at risk as the older population. It is in fact completely untrue, and at this point is causing measurable harm to the lives of young people. Report these comments, and remove them. Here's the data:
  • Posted by RobynG October 06, 2020 at 14:17

    If you can be reinfected herd immunity can no longer be a reasonable approach?!?
  • Posted by PoppyG October 06, 2020 at 22:16

    This is terrible idea. Have not seen any evidence that would support herd immunity as a viable solution. Younger people may not be as vulnerable to dying from Covid-19 but there is the reported long term health conditions some younger people are left with. Why would you risk the health of a nation? Secondly, we are all interconnected and cannot just shield/lock away "the vulnerable" (even if you knew everyone who falls into this category which you can't). What about the rights of those people?.
  • Posted by TJT October 07, 2020 at 10:09

    Thank you for sharing this (My post was closed because you got there first - so will share out this one). This is the idea of 3 highly educated and experienced doctors (oxford, harvard, stanford professors in the field of public health. If they believe herd immunity is real and applicable througheducation and science and years of experience and it being their job to know these sorts of things, then I beleive them! "As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection." basically: let the healthy people move freely protect the vulnerable look at ALL public health - so that mental health, suicides and cancer are not being ignored and not just one illness! The Great Barrington Declaration (as above) This looks at public health as a whole and is based on scientific knowledge from people that really know what they are talking about. "herd immunity is not a strategy, it is a biological fact" by TJT on October 07, 2020 at 08:38AM
  • Posted by SchoolTeacher October 11, 2020 at 14:23

    Not going to be enough teachers to sustain education if this happened. Or health workers in NHS
  • Posted by Smithsky October 11, 2020 at 15:59

    This is such a discriminatory idea and relies on the unproven detail that any immunity is permanent. Lock up the old and vulnerable then continue to party ? A Lancet article about herd immunity questions that it is possible without a vaccine and that it is also unethical.
  • Posted by radiofan October 11, 2020 at 21:17

    I agree with the basic premise. There are two harms being caused just now - 1) the damage from the pandemic and 2) the damage to society from the restrictions (damage to business and employment, damage to personal wellbeing and increasing damage to routine health services). Our problem is that getting a good balance seems impossible with us locked into seemingly never-ending cycles of strict lockdowns followed by the virus raging again when we drop our guard. It might surprise you know that my wife and I are not young, so we are potentially at risk from this virus. However, we are lucky to be retired and we have learned to live with the situation by keeping our heads down. So, regardless of what restrictions are proposed, they are not really affecting us, because we are bunkered down. Yes, we miss the grandkids, but Zoom will have to do for now. I am swayed by what I've seen in some other countries, notably Sweden. I accept that it's really difficult to compare two societies but my view is that the Scottish Government should put all it's efforts into protecting those that really are vulnerable, and free up the less vulnerable do as they please. Re-open all businesses, open call centres - by now the public knows how deadly this virus is and I believe that individuals should be left to assess their own risks.
  • Posted by Nm October 11, 2020 at 21:29

    This is just bad science.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas

Idea topics