A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Behind the Controversial Great Barrington Declaration Calling for COVID-19 Herd Immunity - 2020-10-26
An open letter that emerged earlier this month opposing COVID-19 shutdowns and calling for a "herd immunity" approach to addressing the coronavirus — which already has claimed over 220,000 American lives — is one of the latest examples of how right-wing ideology and think tanks that have long cultivated climate science denial are now engaging in COVID disinformation and promoting messaging dangerous to public health.
Known as the Great Barrington Declaration, this statement advocating for herd immunity was introduced in early October at an event hosted by the American Institute for Economic Research, a conservative free-market think tank located in the western Massachusetts town of Great Barrington. This think tank, funded in part through a corporate investment firm with holdings in major oil and petrochemical companies, operates a network for the international business community that partners with other institutions backed by Koch and fossil fuel cash.
The herd immunity strategy, which the open letter describes as a "focused protection" approach, basically calls for allowing this highly infectious virus to spread throughout the population, in theory infecting enough individuals while somehow protecting the most vulnerable such as the elderly from getting sick in order to allow a resumption of daily life. Such a strategy would inevitably result in more deaths — by some estimates the American death toll would likely rise to between 1 million and 2.5 million — and is far from guaranteed from even reaching the intended goal of broad immunity.