Scientists accuse the government and media of 'smear campaign'

Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, and Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University, have accused the UK Government and media of having 'demonised' people who questioned the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Dominic Cummings, who was Boris Johnson’s most senior advisor until his departure from Downing Street in November 2020 (Pic credit: Getty)
Dominic Cummings, who was Boris Johnson’s most senior advisor until his departure from Downing Street in November 2020 (Pic credit: Getty)

Public health scientists Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya are, along with Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration.

This advocates an approach of “focused protection” rather than lockdowns, “to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk”.

In a post on the political website Spiked on Monday, Kulldorff and Bhattacharya said: “We did not expect a multi-pronged propaganda campaign that gravely distorted our arguments and smeared us.”

They claimed that lockdowns have failed to control the spread of COVID-19 and “resulted in devastating collateral harms, especially to children, the working class in rich nations and the very poorest people in the developing world”.

In their view, there was “an aggressive media campaign against the Great Barrington Declaration. The propaganda campaign included multiple distortions, misinformation, ad hominem attacks and outright slander.”

They claim that “prominent politicians like Matt Hancock, the media and health officials in the WHO and the UK government rebranded focused protection – policies designed to protect the most vulnerable from Covid infection – as a ‘let-it-rip strategy’ that would ‘let the virus continue unchecked’.”

A “properly implemented focused-protection strategy could have saved thousands of lives in the UK”, according to the scientists.

They accused Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, and Dominic Cummings, during his time at Number 10, of having “demonised” people who disagreed with them.

“And so Boris Johnson’s government ignored the focused-protection measures that we proposed for the elderly,” they said.

In response to the claims, a Government spokesperson said: "Throughout the pandemic our approach has been guided by data and the advice of scientific and medical experts.

“As new evidence emerged, we acted quickly and decisively to implement life-saving measures and have done whatever it takes to protect the NHS and save lives and livelihoods.”

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