On October 4, 2020, when COVID-19 was raging, American schools were mostly shuttered, and vaccines were believed to be years away, a team of top researchers at the world’s most prestigious universities—including Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, and Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta—published the Great Barrington DeclarationA controversial open letter disputing the U.S. official response to lockdowns, government control over ever-larger portions of the economy and daily life.
They recognized that COVID was largely affecting elderly Americans as well as those with certain, identifiable medical conditions. Therefore, they advocated for “focused protection,” which would ensure the safety of the most vulnerable while allowing the rest, particularly children, to continue their lives.
It was swiftly and inexplicably met by the most powerful levels of government. Francis Collins, at the time, was the Director of the National Institutes of Health. wroteA private email addressed to Anthony Fauci, the presidential chief medical advisor, was obtained later through a Freedom of Information Act Request. It denounced Bhattacharya and Kulldorff as “fringe Epidemiologists”, who were worthy of being subject to a media “takedown.”
Big tech companies like Google and Facebook followed our lead, suppressing ideas, and falsely declaring them misinformation. BhattacharyaProfessor of Medicine at Stanford, who is also a Ph.D. candidate in Economics. I started receiving calls asking me why I would want to let the virus rip when reporters didn’t know what I meant. My target for racist abuses and threats of death was me.”
Bhattacharya was kind enough to sit down with me to discuss what it was like being at the heart of an official effort against heterodox thinking regarding the pandemic. I also asked him why he feels he and his Great Barrington Declaration authors have been vindicated. Finally, he said whether the public healthcare establishment is capable of recovering from continuing revelations of incompetence as well as malfeasance and political-motivated decision-making. The centralization in science funding can encourage dangerous groupthink. Bhattacharya discusses his belief in mRNA vaccins and remains staunchly opposed to mandate. And why he gave up wearing masks many years ago.
Narrated and edited by Nick Gillespie; intro by John Osterhoudt. Graphics by Lex Villena, Isaac Reese.
Photo: CNP/AdMedia/Newscom; gbdeclaration.org; Stefani Reynolds – Pool via CNP/MEGA/Newscom; CNP/AdMedia/SIPA/Newscom