Scientific advisory board – panda
Professor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Sucharit Bhakdi is a Thai-born physician and specialist in the fields of Microbiology and Immunology. He was Head of the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene at the Mainz University from 1990 until his retirement in 2012. He has published over 300 scientific articles on immunology, bacteriology, virology and cardiovascular disease for which he received numerous prestigious awards.
Sucharit Bhakdi co-authored the bestseller Corona: False Alarm? with his wife Dr. Karina Reiss. The German version was published in June and the English version in October 2020. Eight further translations are pending. (Photo credit: Peter Pulkowski)
Professor of Medicine, Stanford University
Jay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research. He directs Stanford’s Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging.
Dr. Bhattacharya’s research focuses on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, with a particular emphasis on the role of government programs, biomedical innovation, and economics. Dr. Bhattacharya’s recent research focuses on the epidemiology of COVID-19 as well as an evaluation of policy responses to the epidemic.
Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, Oxford University
Sunetra Gupta is an Indian infectious disease epidemiologist and a Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, England, having graduated from Princeton University and received her PhD from the University of London. She has performed research on the transmission dynamics of various infectious diseases, including malaria, influenza and COVID-19.
Dr Gupta is also an acclaimed novelist and essayist.
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Martin Kulldorff, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a biostatistician in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Dr Kulldorff’s current research centers on developing new statistical methods for post-market drug and vaccine safety surveillance.
Professor of Biophysics, Stanford University
Michael Levitt is a South African-born biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University. He runs the University’s Levitt Lab.
In 2013, Dr Levitt received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, together with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel, for “the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems”. In 2014 he was awarded the DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences. Michael was elected an ISCB Fellow by the International Society for Computational Biology in 2015.
The Great Barrington Declaration
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.
On October 4, 2020, this declaration was authored and signed in Great Barrington, United States, by:
Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring of infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations.
Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations.
Dr. Michael Levitt, PhD is a biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University. Prof. Levitt received the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.