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The The Great Barrington Declaration and it's FAQ make several claims that fly in the face of our approach to this pandemic. The declaration, when read in it's entirety, states lockdowns are not a part of focused protection, and focused protection has been the standard approach for past epidemics, which explicitly implies the lockdown methods used in response to COVID-19 are unprecedented.

Some notable quotes that emphasize the claim made by the declaration (emphasis mine):

Isn’t Focused Protection too risky an experiment?

No. Focused protection is based on the risk-based strategies outlined in the many pandemic preparedness plans that different countries had developed during the past decades. Surprisingly, except for Sweden, all countries threw their pandemic plans out the window when this pandemic started.

How were prior pandemics dealt with?

The focused protection strategy proposed by the Great Barrington declaration is indeed the standard way that societies have dealt with prior epidemics. Letting people who face very little risk from viral infection (but would suffer from the lockdowns) live their lives normally while taking precautions when they interact with more vulnerable people makes intuitive sense – they are harmed by the lockdowns and lifting the restrictions helps them.  At the same time, better focused protection for the vulnerable is a moral necessity.  Over time, population immunity will build up among the non-vulnerable until the vulnerable will no longer be at high risk of COVID-19 when engaging in normal activities.

To define lockdown, I'll again reference the FAQ:

How do you define lockdowns?

Lockdowns consist of a variety of measures, such as schools and universities that are closed for in-person teaching, hybrid schools, closed or partially closed restaurants and other businesses, restrictions on sports and cultural events, extraordinary travel restrictions, work-from-home orders, cancelled medical and dental visits, curfews, quarantine regulations, etc.

This quote drives home the clear statement that lockdowns are not any part of focused protection described by the document:

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

To further clarify, focused protection as described by the declaration excludes lockdowns as described above, basically stating the cost is higher than the cost of increased infection (without any quantification, not the claim here though). To implement a lockdown is therefore not a part of focused protection in this context. With that in mind, the declaration as a whole clearly claims there is no precedent for the lockdown methods used this year. Is this claim true?

Original title: Is the outlined method of managing COVID-19 in The Great Barrington Declaration the "standard" approach?

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    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 0:12

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