Over 12,000 Scientists Sign 'Anti-Lockdown' Petition, Saying Measures Will Cause 'Irreparable Damage'

Over 12,000 scientists have signed the Great Barrington Declaration, a petition suggesting that coronavirus lockdowns will have irreversible consequences.

"Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short- and long-term public health," the petition said. "Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed."

The declaration, which was named after the town in Massachusetts it was signed in, has signatures from 12,070 medical and public health scientists, 34,973 medical practitioners and 634,836 concerned citizens from around the world.

The number of signatures on the petition has increased since October 16, when it had signatures from approximately 10,233 medical and public health scientists, 27,860 medical practitioners and 504,875 members of the public.

The petition was written on October 4 and co-authored by Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard; Sunetra Gupta, a professor at Oxford University; and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford University Medical School.

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A medical operator helps a colleague sanitize hands on November 17 in Sassari, Italy. Over 12,000 scientists worldwide have signed the Great Barrington Declaration, a petition that suggests that coronavirus lockdowns will have irreversible consequences. Photo by Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images/Getty

"Lockdowns have caused enormous collateral damage on public health," Kulldorff told Newsweek in an email. "This is directly observed by medical professionals and scientists in a wide variety of fields, including pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, cardiology, surgery and psychiatry. Hence, it is not surprising that thousands of them have co-signed the Great Barrington Declaration."

Bhattacharya, in an email, said he is "delighted, but not surprised, that so many scientists have signed on."

According to the declaration, lockdowns have caused "lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health," which will lead to greater mortality rates in the near future.

Instead, the petition's authors recommend an approach they call "focused protection."

"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," the petition said. "Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity."

While the petition stated that "adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19," it noted that "those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal."

Despite the petition's suggestion that mortality and social harm should be minimized until herd immunity is reached, Kulldorff told Newsweek in October that the authors "are not advocating a 'herd immunity strategy.'"

"Herd immunity is not a strategy but a scientifically proven phenomena, just like gravity, and you would not say that an airplane pilot is using a 'gravity strategy' to land a plane. No matter what strategy is used, we will reach herd immunity sooner or later, just as an airplane will reach the ground one way or another," Kulldorff said.

In a Newsweek op-ed published on October 30, Kulldorff, along with the other authors, said that the key to minimizing mortality is avoiding the collateral damage from lockdowns while better protecting the old and other high-risk groups.

The petition was drafted by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian organization.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has disagreed with the petition, calling its pathway to herd immunity "unacceptable."

"You know how many deaths you're gonna have before you get there? That's an unacceptable pathway. We get to herd immunity from a vaccine, that's how you get to herd immunity. Not by letting everybody get infected," said Fauci in a video published on October 28.

It's estimated that between 70 and 75 percent of a population would need to get the coronavirus in order for herd immunity to be achieved, Fauci said.

The Great Barrington Declaration's website and Gupta did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment in time for publication.

This story has been updated with a comment from Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.