We mentioned the Great Barrington Declaration in yesterday’s and this morning’s ‘Daily Betrayal’ columns, with the appeal to sign it. Signatures by the general public – us – have gone up since then from about 66,000 to 106,200 as of now – not least thanks to all of you who have signed and shared the link.
Now imagine my surprise when I saw the Editorial in this morning’s Times. Its title is “The Times view on the Great Barrington challenge to lockdowns: Bold Thinking” (link, paywalled). Note that ‘The Times View’ means this is the view of the chief editors. The subtitle shows which way their thoughts are leaning: “A formidable scientific case points to the social and health damage caused by lockdowns. The government would do well to treat it seriously.” The veiled critique of the government is not unexpected, but basing this by referring to the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) certainly is.
Leaving aside the now well-known ‘global pandemic’ Covid summary (ahem: do they not know that a pandemic is always global?), let’s start with their brief description of the background and content of that GBD:
“A formidable challenge to the policies of lockdown that are being imposed across the globe has been issued by scientists and medical experts in a statement called the Great Barrington Declaration. This was initiated in America, with the involvement of Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, and has so far attracted the signatures of nearly 6,000 experts worldwide, including dozens in Britain. It points to the immense collateral damage to social relations, the economy and physical and mental health from restrictive policies.
They warn that maintaining these pending a vaccine may cause “irreparable damage”, especially to the underprivileged. Thus the scientists urge a more targeted approach. They note that the risk from the coronavirus to the elderly and infirm is about a thousand times greater than for the young. The principle they favour is to protect the vulnerable while allowing something closer to normal activity among young and working-age people, thereby enabling immunity to build up in the population.” (link, paywalled)
Astoundingly, The Times appears to accept the reasoning of those scientists, many of whom have been labelled for months as ‘conspiracists’ and worse, their social media accounts having been censored if not deleted. Overlook the ‘praise’ for ‘Our National Covid Service’ – it seems such statements are a requirement:
“Their supporting arguments are in many respects unassailable. The world economy has tipped into the steepest recession since the 1930s. Livelihoods and businesses have been wiped out. Despite the heroic efforts of medical staff, care for non-Covid medical conditions, such as cancer and heart conditions, has suffered from overburdened health services. Childhood vaccination rates have fallen, storing up future problems. It makes total sense to shield those most at risk from the coronavirus while encouraging continued vigorous hygiene measures for all.” (link, paywalled)
The next quote demonstrates to me that, even in the august chambers where the chief editors of the Times reside, there’s a split between ‘Covidians’ and Anti-Lockdownians. It’s as if some insisted the following ‘had to be said’, to keep the fear & hysteria going. One can see the raised eyebrows and hear the supercilious sniffs around that editorial table when ‘herd immunity’ had to be mentioned. However, they do appear to support the demand for a new debate even while carefully criticising some of the GBD’s statements:
“The debate has become all the more urgent as a second wave of the virus is forcing tighter restrictions in the north of England and in Scotland. It seems only a matter of time before the economy is harmed further and individuals with other diseases suffer more. Yet the commendable aims of the declaration rely on a range of policy assumptions that are as yet unknowable, alongside some likely risks of easing. The danger is that while Covid spreads among the wider population it will inevitably hit the more vulnerable, even though they may be taking precautions, and the death toll will rise significantly. There are also the long-term effects of coronavirus on health which in some cases appear to involve protracted symptoms even among younger people. Furthermore, scientists still do not know if herd immunity is achievable; it may not be.” (link, paywalled)
In the concluding paragraph they give with one hand while taking away with the other, by criticising government while acknowledging they must look at the GBD:
“The government would be wise to consider the issues raised in the declaration and should in any case be constantly seeking opportunities to ease restrictions. Certainly its proposals are attractive to young and middle-aged people and it would help the economy to recover much more rapidly. The dilemma for No 10 is the constant tension between keeping the death toll down and getting the economy moving. It is a brave politician who is willing to risk the lives of tens of thousands more citizens when lockdowns may save them. But if there is no vaccine relatively soon, the government may find itself in a position where it has no choice but to ease restrictions in order to save the lives of many thousands of others suffering from non-Covid diseases.” (link, paywalled)
It seems the very first rays of a more realistic take on Covid has penetrated the minds, at least of the editors of The Times. Yes, they are still clinging to the old, ‘secure’ Lockdown slogans about ‘saving lives’. The ‘2nd wave’ still lingers in their collective minds, as does that ‘covid vaccine. There’s no mention of tests though which is also interesting.
However, to propose that the government they’ve criticised for not doing something soon enough, for doing too much, for not knowing what they’re doing, now ought to consider their Covid policies in view of The Great Barrington Declaration – a view the editors appear to support cautiously – that is not something I expected to see in The Times!