The "Great Barrington" plan for re-opening is championed as good for the poor. It's not. - 2020-10-09
In the last few weeks, you may have heard mention of a document called the Great Barrington Declaration, which lays out a plan for a return to normal life amidst the pandemic. Written by three prominent physicians and signed by dozens of doctors, scientists, and researchers, the document seems sensible enough: The authors' strategy, which they call "focused protection," advocates for protecting the elderly and people with conditions that make them more likely to have a severe case of COVID-19—while allowing the young and healthy to return to business as usual, including concerts, sports events, and other large gatherings. The authors make a social justice case for their idea: "Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19," they write.
The declaration has been shared widely in liberal circles: The ultra-left magazine Jacobin, for example, endorsed the idea in a Q&A with one of the authors, Martin Kulldorf. "Poor households have borne a disproportionate share of the pandemic's hardship," Jacobin's introduction says. "We need to urgently fight for a more just society."
Sounds great, right? Just one problem: The vast majority of infectious disease physicians, virologists, and epidemiologists don't support it—and in fact, most of the scientific community believes that this approach will actively hurt vulnerable people rather than protecting them. "The authors are well known people in public health, but they don't represent anything like a consensus view about how to approach COVID," Yale University epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves told me. "The rest of the people in their field are looking at them aghast." Indeed, the public health community has swarmed to point out the many problems with the Great Barrington plan, and many have also called out Jacobin for promoting it.