November 28, 2023

News Cymru

Two sides to every headline

Barrington Declaration Debunked?

Science Medical Centre has done an article pushing back on the Barrington Declaration. Are their criticisms valid?

In this article I score each critic’s position against Barrington, who will win?

Dr Julian Tang

The interviewer gave a very simple example of a grandparent looking after a school-age child, highlighting one household member (the child) who would not be expected to suffer from COVID-19  much, who would attend a large gathering with other young people on a daily basis, but where the other household member (the grandparent) should be ‘protected’.

“But the reply from Dr. Jay Bhattacharya in the video was not really understandable and had no practical details of how this would be done.

Up until this point there is no concrete evidence suggesting that children are able to pass on the virus even if they are infected so yes, the grandparent should be protected

Verdict – Unlikely claims being stated as likely hurdles

1-0 Barrington

Rupert Beale

suggests we can safely build up ‘herd immunity’ in the rest of the population.  This is wishful thinking. It is not possible to fully identify vulnerable individuals, and it is not possible to fully isolate them.  Furthermore, we know that immunity to coronaviruses wanes over time, and re-infection is possible – so lasting protection of vulnerable individuals by establishing ‘herd immunity’ is very unlikely to be achieved in the absence of a vaccine.

Sure its not possible to identify 100% of vulnerable people but unfortunately enough people have now died that we can probably be 99% accurate with our assessments of who is vulnerable. The data is legion.

It is not possible to fully isolate vulnerable people. This is a major reason for the Barrington Decelaration. The vulnerable who have survived this far can only be protected for so long. The longer there are measures to slow down herd immunity the more chance that a vulnerable person contracts the virus. Faster herd immunity will lead to less deaths among the vulnerable

“Immunity for coronavirus wanes over time”. Maybe for a minority of people. The majority of people appear to have T-Cell immunity to the coronavirus before it was discovered and considering we have never seen it before I would say the immunity is either very long lasting or innate to our immune systems. To say herd immunity without vaccine is unlikely goes against the evidence we are seeing

Verdict – Very negative outlook with no better solution. Making dubious claims about long term immunity

2-0 Barrington

Michael Head

The Barrington Declaration is based upon a false premise – that governments and the scientific community wish for extensive lockdowns to continue until a vaccine is available.  

What has been said, is that life is unlikely to go back to normal or will not go back to normal until vaccine is found

We saw that even with intensive lockdowns in place, there was a huge excess death toll, with the elderly bearing the brunt of that,

Some governments were relieving hospitals of people with coronavirus symptoms and placing them in establishments with high density of vulnerable people ie nursing homes

Around 8% of the UK population has some level of immunity to this novel coronavirus, and that immunity will likely wane over time and be insufficient to prevent a second infection. 

Where did the immunity come from and why will it wane. No evidence given for this assertion.

Verdict – Unfounded pessimism regarding innate immunity and it’s longevity.

3-0 Barrington

Dr Stephen Griffin

Sadly, focusing on the pandemic rather than the cultures and environments in which it arose ignores long-standing issues in society that existed prior to, and likely long after the pandemic has passed.

Barrington Declaration is not attempting to fix the planet only highlight the errors of lockdowns

The signatories propose that members of the population deemed well enough to endure infection should be allowed to operate normally, enjoying full access to work, education, the arts, hospitality etc.  By contrast, those deemed “vulnerable” to severe COVID-19 are to be somehow protected from the infection.  This approach has profound ethical, logistical and scientific flaws:

The “protection” is voluntary. There are no ethical issues. The logistical issues are less with Barrington because considerably less people involved.

Scientifically, no evidence from our current understanding of this virus and how we respond to it in any way suggests that herd immunity would be achievable,

What does a plummeting mortality rate suggest if not herd immunity?

We know that responses to natural infection wane, and that reinfection occurs and can have more severe consequences than the first. 

Sometimes. If this were normal I am sure the human race would be extinct.

 in the US, with its high end (albeit restrictive) healthcare system, over seven million confirmed infections have occurred to date, yet this represents only a small percentage of that population and no evidence of herd immunity is apparent

The author is clearly not monitoring the case numbers in New York and New Jersey.

We are all exhausted by the pandemic and are rightly angry at the notion of potentially enduring a second round of local and national lockdowns or other restrictions. 

Not if they were justified.

Verdict – Attributing things that Barrington is not attempting to fix ie inequalities in society. Highlights non existent issues eg ethical problems with people making personal choices. Ignores current numbers (could be old quote)

4-0 Barrington

Dr Simon Clarke –

Natural, lasting, protective immunity to the disease would be needed and we don’t know how effective or long-lasting people’s post-infection immunity will be. 

We do know that the vast majority of people are only minimally affected. It appears there is some innate immunity built in to us.

 neither do we have the capacity in the UK to test for asymptomatic infections.

How can we not have the resources for testing but have the resources to spend billions of pounds for healthy people to not work

Verdict – Again denying innate immunity. Contradiction re resource availability

5-0 Barrington

Prof James Naismith

The declaration is correct, that once herd immunity is reached in the non-elderly population this will protect the elderly by greatly reducing the general viral spread.

The authors have neglected to point out that our ability to treat covid19 is greatly improving due to scientific and medical breakthroughs, a point that strengthens arguments for their policy by reducing the toll of the virus.

We do not know yet how long immunity will last, so achieving herd immunity may not be simple. 

Again, considering the majority of people had an immune response prior to the virus being identified, immunity could be innate.

The desired range for herd immunity is not stated nor how far away we are from it, 

This article covers herd immunity

Further, the declaration is silent as to what success in shielding looks like?  100 % protection is impossible to achieve.  

The Barrington Decleration does not say current recommendations for the vulernable need to be changed

“I would support the signatories giving their full consideration to all the scientific issues surrounding their prescription so that they might give more actionable policy advice.”

Verdict – In general agreement with Barrington, would like clarification on some numbers. Legitimate criticism

5-1 Barrington

Prof Jeremy Rossman

First, we still do not know if herd immunity is possible to achieve.

See my responses above

Second, the declaration focuses only on the risk of death from COVID-19 but ignores the growing awareness of long-COVID, that many healthy young adults with ‘mild’ COVID-19 infections are experiencing protracted symptoms and long-term disability

Where is the data on long COVID?

Third, countries that have forgone lockdown restrictions in favour of personal responsibility and focused protection of the elderly, such as Sweden, were not able to successfully protect the vulnerable population. 

Countries with stricter lockdowns have also not protected the vulnerable population

Verdict – Long COVID could be an issue but no data provided. Protection of vulnerable noted as ineffective in lockdowns and no lockdowns. No score. Need more info on long COVID.

5-1 Barrington

On the whole the article comes across as more of a hit piece rather than trying to contribute to a solution. I think the main problem being addressed by the Barrington Declaration is that government policy is fundamentally the same as at the start, the way the government is viewing the solution to SARS-COV2 is not changing as we get more and new information.

In short the Barrington Declaration is saying there is a better and more cost effective way of dealing with SARS-COV2 and one which could also lead to less deaths to the vulnerable in the medium and long term.

The critics to the Barrington Declaration seem to be hung up on the long term immunity question when there is plenty of evidence to suggest we have a relatively strong T-Cell immune response built in so there is plenty of evidence to suggest long term immunity is real. To justify lockdowns on this aspect only, shows a lack of depth in the argument for lockdowns. When you take into consideration the collateral damage of lockdowns this attitude seems unwise and illogical.

One other point to make on this “hit” piece are the contributors. All appear to be in education whereas the boots on the ground appear to be the ones voicing disapproval of lockdowns.

While being in education does not instantly make you an idiot it does make you dependent on government money for research which could effect impartiality.

In short, given the date so far, the Barrington Declaration appears to be the best solution

Evidence based medicine


This post on Twitter got some traction

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