What Happened: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya on 19 Months of COVID YouTube Oct 21, 2021
Table of contents
- Start of transcript
- Great Barrington Declaration (Oct 2020.0) – lockdowns very hard on some people
- Elderly much more likely to die (pre Delta)
- Impact of closing schools in just Spring of 2020 – 500,000 life years lost
- Herd Immunity
- ”Herd immunity” varies with sezson
- Failed to protect the vulnerable (Elderly)
- A way to isolate the elderly – free grocery delivery
- Another example – free motel room if family member is infected
- Dr.Fauci different opinon than epidemiologists
- 3X higher death rates in LA regions what could not afford to lock down
- 250,000 children died of lockdown economics in SE Asia
- Precautionary principle
- Precautionary principle should account for lockdown harms
- Fauci was not concerned about other harms
- OK to block messages – when the science is known (smoking)
- Not OK to block messages when science is not known (COVID)
- Have effectively shut down all scientific debate (of alternative treatments, preventions)
- 60,000 have signed the Great Barrington Declaration
- Panic, fear
- Unemployment ==> increase alcoholism, etc (ignored during COVID fear)
- Fewer deaths in Florida than Calif. (per age group)
- Kids in Calif have missed many school days
- Kids in Florida have missed hardly any schooldays
- Vaccines good at protecting individuals against sever COVID
- Wrong to force vaccinations independent of previous immunity
- People quiting medicine, military, police etc due to mandate
- ” coercion is a poor tactic in public health”
- ” European CDC says that masking kids under 12 is NOT recommended”
- Wonder why the US CDC has not tested mask effectiveness
- Past epidemics: “protect the vulnerable, disrupt society as little as possible”
- Unfortunately Public Health is a political science
0:00:10.6 Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge. I'm Peter Robinson. Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya arrived at Stanford University as a freshman at 18 years old and never left. In addition to his undergraduate degree, Dr. Bhattacharya earned a doctorate from the Stanford Economics Department and an MD from Stanford Medical School. Dr. Bhattacharya is now a professor of Health Policy at Stanford Medical School, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Jay welcome.
0:00:42.0 Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya: Nice to meet you, Peter.
0:00:44.0 PR: What happened? And what should have happened? What happened? December 31st, 2019. The World Health Organization announces that, it's tracking a cluster of pneumonia cases from an unknown source in Wuhan, China. January 11, 2020. The first novel coronavirus death is reported in China. January 21st, the first American case of COVID is confirmed in Washington state. March on the advice of the White House coronavirus task force, which includes Dr. Anthony Fauci states in this country, began to issue stay-at-home orders. Late March and early April, The entire nation has locked down. Schools are closed, economic activity collapses. March, 24, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya publishes a piece in the Wall Street Journal, "If it's true that the coronavirus would kill millions of people without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines, then the extraordinary measures being carried out in cities and states around the country are surely justified. But there's little evidence to confirm that premise." The whole nation has shut down and Jay Bhattacharya pipes up and says, hey fellas. Explain yourself Jay.
0:02:11.3 DB: Sure, so I'd actually have to go back a few years from that.
0:02:14.6 PR: A few years?
0:02:15.3 DB: Yeah, in 2009. I'd done some research during the H1N1, Flu epidemic.
0:02:22.4 PR: Also, originated in Asia?
0:02:23.9 DB: I mean, it's unclear exactly.
0:02:27.2 PR: Oh, I see.
0:02:27.8 DB: But in any case, it is an epidemic, it's hitting the United States and everyone's worried about how... What the death rate is from it. I did some research on the spread of the disease, but I'd been reading a literature on how deadly it was. So the first reports for H1N1 were really high, 4%, 5% mortality. And I noticed in the literature, there were a whole series of Seroprevalence studies, Studies essentially of antibodies. And what they found was that for every case of H1N1, there were fifty, a hundred people that had it, that they didn't identify. The Public health hadn't identified.
0:03:08.8 PR: Okay. So let's just... You know me, Jay, you know I'm very slow and you have to go through this carefully for me to get it all. For every case, Meaning, every case that turns up at a hospital, every case that's identified and counted because that person gets sick?
0:03:23.5 DB: Right.
0:03:24.1 PR: There are some large number of asymptomatic cases, where people had been infected, produced antibodies, and don't even know it. Is that correct? That's the general idea?
0:03:32.8 DB: That's the general idea, but not necessarily asymptomatic, they might have had symptoms, but they just never showed up. There weren't severe.
0:03:37.9 PR: They never got counted. They don't turn up... They don't turn themselves in at the doctor's office or the hospital.
0:03:41.6 DB: Right. So H1N1 goes from 5% mortality, 4% mortality, which was what the World Health Organization was saying, at the time to 0.01% mortality on that order disease.
0:03:55.0 PR: Once Studies have been done to see the actual number of people who have been infected?
0:03:58.5 DB: Correct.
0:04:00.0 PR: Okay.
0:04:00.3 DB: So it was on the top of my mind when I saw the World Health Organization in 2020 say that we have a 3% mortality rate. There were very cagey about what they meant, but I knew what they meant. They meant that three out of a hundred people that had been identified with covid died from it. They were looking at Chinese data, they were looking at the Italian data. And the first thought I had was well, maybe this is like H1N1. It's a respiratory disease, respiratory virus, it spreads very very easily, obviously. It seems likely that many more people have had it than have been identified. Our testing, resources weren't all that good at the time. So that was what motivated me in that piece was we don't know the mortality rate, 'cause we don't know how many people actually have been infected. I wanted to know the denominator.
0:04:49.5 PR: And then you at some point in these early weeks, you and a couple of colleagues here at Stanford, as I recall, correct me on this because I'm going from memory, conducted what was one of the earliest or perhaps the first Seroprevalence study in this country. Is that correct?
0:05:08.6 DB: Yes, one of the very first, yes.
0:05:10.5 PR: And you learned?
0:05:12.2 DB: So we did two actually, we did one in Los Angeles County and we did one in Santa Clara County, which is where Stanford is. We learned that in both LA county and Santa Clara County, there were 40 or 50 infections per case identified, 40 or 50 per case identified.
0:05:29.8 PR: So it was H1N1 all over again?
0:05:31.5 DB: Yeah, it's more deadly than H1N1, you know, so instead of something like 0.01, 0.02% infection fatality rate. It's the numbers we got were that it was 0.2%. So, two out of a thousand mortality rate.
0:05:49.0 PR: But it was parallel to the H1N1 case in the following sense, the World Health Organization said it was maybe a whole order of magnitude more deadly than your study suggested. Is that correct?
0:06:03.2 DB: That's correct.
0:06:03.9 PR: All right. And your study this... So you first raise your head above the parapet so to speak in that piece in the Wall Street Journal on March 24, and you had done your study by then or you were writing on suspicions?
0:06:15.2 DB: No, it was a hypothesis.
0:06:16.7 PR: All right.
0:06:17.3 DB: That that article was putting forward hypothesis, says, basically, that it might be lower than we're seeing. We need to do the study to check. Actually that piece led to a very large number of people contacting me and my colleagues offering resources to help us do the study.
0:06:33.8 PR: I see. And so the study you conduct, well we will come to this in a moment. But one of the things that just I find baffling about this Jay you're gonna have to help me through this in the whole conversation is that we have this gigantic, Heavily funded billions upon billions of dollars, public health establishment in this country. The Centers for Disease Control, the CDC sits right up at the top of it. And then of course, there's an international organization, World Health Organization. And it's my friend, Jay, and a couple of his buds out here in Stanford, who do what seems the obvious thing to do, which is to ask the question, and then test just how deadly this thing is. So on the basis of your test, again, I'm a layman, correct me. You discover one, it's not nearly as deadly as the public health authorities are at that point letting on; two, it's already everywhere. It's already everywhere.
0:07:34.9 DB: Yeah. Well, it wasn't quite...
0:07:35.3 PR: Go ahead. You can correct me.
0:07:36.1 DB: Yeah. Well, it wasn't quite... So the prevalence then, it was about... In LA County, it was 4%, and in Santa Clara County it was about 3%, 2.8% in Santa Clara County.
0:07:44.4 PR: But still many thousands of people. Way too late for traces and tests.
0:07:47.9 DB: Right. That's the key point.
0:07:50.0 PR: Alright, go ahead.
0:07:50.1 DB: That is exactly the key point. So the mortality rate is important, but the key point is the strategy used to control the disease. Up to that point, the strategy, the idea was that if we could find all the cases of it, test enough, isolate the people that have it so they don't pass the disease on, then we'll suppress the disease down to zero. That worked, I think, with SARS one, it worked with Ebola. It works with... Has worked in the past with other diseases.
0:08:16.6 PR: It's not a crazy idea.
0:08:17.7 DB: No, it's not a crazy idea. The problem is that if you have a situation in mid-April 2020, where 3, 4% of large metro centers have had evidence of the disease already, you know the disease is very, very infectious, that's a strategy that cannot work. At that point what folks should have realized, including folks like Fauci and the CDC should have realized is that a strategy to stop the disease from spreading down to zero was not possible.
0:08:50.2 PR: Over a year ago.
0:08:50.4 DB: Yeah.
0:08:50.7 PR: All right. I continue this timeline, October 4th 2020, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of public Medicine at Stanford, I'm repeating your credential for a reason, joins Dr. Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist at Harvard, and Dr. Sunetra Gupta, an epidemiologist at Oxford in issuing the Great Barrington Declaration, which you named after the town in Massachusetts, in which the three of you drafted the document. It happens to be called Great Barrington. You weren't saying the declaration is great, although there are those who think it probably was. I'm quoting from the declaration. "As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we," that is the three of you, "have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, that is to say, of shutting down our countries," the United States and Sunetra Gupta is in the United Kingdom. "We have grave concerns and recommend an approach we call focused protection." The three of you recommended an alternative you call it focus protection. Explain focus protection.
0:10:03.6 DB: Sure. So the main idea behind it... There's two main ideas. One is that there's a huge gradient in the risk. It's not that everyone is equally at risk from this disease. If you're older, you're much more likely to die upon infection than if you're younger. I mean, thank God, for children are relatively well protected against disease just by the nature of their immune response to it.
0:10:26.5 PR: Do we know why? Is this unusual among such diseases? I mean, among viruses, or was it unique to this virus?
0:10:32.7 DB: They're still working out why, I mean if there's something about...
0:10:34.7 PR: Alright. But we know the fact.
0:10:35.6 DB: Yeah, but we knew that early. So you look at the Chinese data, the Italian data, it was older people that were dying from this disease. And the seroprevalence [0:10:46.1] ? ? .
0:10:46.4 PR: Can you quantify... So how much more likely is a 75 or 85-year-old to die of the disease than a five-year-old?
0:10:56.8 DB: So it's more like a 1000, 2000 fold increase in the risk for the 80-year-old than the five-year-old.
0:11:04.5 PR: Okay, huge, huge, huge, dramatic difference.
0:11:07.7 DB: Its a huge difference. Just to give you some sense of this. There's now a whole bunch of these seroprevalence studies that have been done that replicated from around the world what we found. The typical finding in these seroprevalence studies is that for people that are under the age of 70, there's a 0.05% mortality risk. So 99.95% survival after infection for people under 70. For people over 70, it's 5% mortality, so 95% survival, a huge difference. And that... It essentially changes smoothly with age. So roughly speaking, I'm 53, my infection fatality rate from these studies is something like 0.2%, 99.8% survival if I get infected, well that's before the vaccine. Every seven years of age below and above, you double it.
0:12:04.2 PR: I see. Oh, alright, so the gradient is like this. It's very steep.
0:12:07.9 DB: It's very steep. Yeah, very steep.
0:12:08.9 PR: Alright, so, back to focus protection.
0:12:11.6 DB: Right. So that's one... So the obvious thing is we know who's vulnerable. Older people, people with certain chronic conditions, move heaven and earth to protect them. So we outlined a whole bunch of ideas for this. We can talk about some of these at ease a bit if you want. The other thing is that the lockdown harms are devastating. 100 million people have been thrown into poverty worldwide as a consequence of the economic harms caused by lockdown. People skipped cancer treatments, people skipped heart attack treatments, people skipped diabetes management care. The psychological harm is on a scale... In June of 2020, one in four young adults reported to the CDC that they had seriously considered suicide in the United States. So the harm, the public health harm of these lockdowns, I just can't overstress how harmful these lockdowns were to the... To the population at large from public health point of view, forget about the economics just in terms of health outcomes. There was a study that suggested we close schools down, right?
0:13:16.7 PR: Yes.
0:13:18.6 DB: A study done, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that...
0:13:22.7 PR: JAMA's the Journal of the...
0:13:24.6 DB: American Medical Association.
0:13:26.4 PR: Thank you. One of the three or four most prestigious medical journals in this country, correct?
0:13:30.1 DB: Yeah.
0:13:30.3 PR: All right.
0:13:31.2 DB: For JAMA Pediatrics, that estimated how just closing the schools for a couple of months in April and May, what effect would it have on the lives of these children? Because it turns out that closing schools down, you get learning loss that echoes throughout a kid's entire life. They live shorter, poor, less healthy lives. So the estimate was five and a half million life years lost just from that school, five and a half million...
0:14:02.0 PR: Closed down in the previous spring.
0:14:03.6 DB: Yeah.
0:14:03.8 PR: That had already happened. Alright, so focus protection says, move heaven and earth to protect the older and do what with everybody else?
0:14:10.6 DB: Don't get... End the lockdown, because the lockdown is causing devastating harm for them.
0:14:16.3 PR: Old people should be protected. Everybody else should go about their lives.
0:14:20.5 DB: Yes.
0:14:20.8 PR: All right. You issued the Great Barrington declaration again on October 4th, 2020. October 13th, British Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock speaking the House of Commons. "The Great Barrington declaration is underpinned by two central claims and both are emphatically false. First, it says that if enough people get COVID, we will reach herd immunity. That is not true. Many infectious diseases never reach herd immunity such as measles, malaria, AIDS and flu. And with increasing evidence of reinfection," he's talking about COVID. "We should have no confidence that we would ever reach herd immunity to COVID even if everyone caught it. The second central claim is that we can segregate the old and vulnerable on our way to herd immunity that simply is not possible." Okay, he makes two extremely serious charges against you. And you and your colleagues, Martin Kulldorff of Harvard and Sunetra Gupta of Oxford responded how?
0:15:25.0 DB: Now, first of all, he doesn't understand what herd immunity means, right? So herd immunity is...
0:15:30.1 PR: Actually, take a moment and really lean into herd immunity, because that is a term that even now is getting used again and again and again. And I confess, I don't quite know what... It seems to mean different things as different people use it.
0:15:41.6 DB: Yeah, so I think he's using it as a synonym for zero COVID. COVID's gone away, because enough people are infected. COVID is a Coronavirus, the other coronaviruses that are in common circulation in human populations produce colds. And they're controlled by herd immunity. They're not always increasing exponentially so that everyone gets it, what happens is they rise and fall with the season. Enough people get it. And what herd immunity means is, when one person has the infection, they spread it to one or fewer additional people.
0:16:19.9 PR: So you don't get an exponential growth?
0:16:23.3 DB: Right, you will get used to declining cases, for instance.
0:16:25.7 PR: Alright, so when a population achieves herd immunity, it is not immune, entirely immune to the said, infection. It simply experiences that infection in a relatively minor... I don't wanna say control, but in a relatively minor way there is no exponential growth, that's all it means, is that correct?
0:16:46.3 DB: Yeah, it just means that there's not a growth in the number of cases, a new person gets it and they pass it on to one or fewer additional people. So whenever the case concept coming down, we're in herd immunity in some technical sense. Since this is seasonal, when it's in season, the number of people that need to have immunity to this needs to be very high, because it passes much more easily.
0:17:10.4 PR: Right.
0:17:10.7 DB: When it's out of season, you can have a relatively few people with immunity and you won't see it growing. So herd immunity is not a synonym for zero COVID. I think Hancock... I think that's the mistake he made there. The other thing about herd immunity with these diseases, it was clear in October of that year of 2020. And even more clear now that if you are infected, you actually gain substantial protection against reinfection. So there was a study that was just released actually recently, that verifies a whole long line of studies. At one year... This is out of Italy, at one year after infection, 0.3% are reinfected. So you're infected, you recovered from COVID. And within the context of the full year, three out of 1000 get reinfected and almost always it's less severe than the first time, because your body still remembers how to fight it off.
0:18:10.6 PR: And that's true of viruses in general, isn't it? That subsequent infections tend to be less severe?
0:18:15.7 DB: I mean, it's true of the Coronavirus. I mean, HIV is a different... I mean, there's...
0:18:19.5 PR: Okay. The 1918 flu.
0:18:21.6 DB: Yeah.
0:18:21.9 PR: Each time it returned, it returned with less force, is that roughly correct, or am I...
0:18:25.1 PR: I mean...
0:18:26.0 DB: The flu is a little more complicated cause...
0:18:27.8 PR: Okay. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. That's the layman going off because I don't know enough to stay on the rails here. Okay. So, Matt Hancock, the British Secretary of State for Health, who incidentally was forced to resign because he was caught violating the lockdown rules in Britain. He's now the former Secretary of State for Health. He says, it says that if enough people get COVID, we will reach herd immunity. That many infectious diseases never reach herd immunity. So what's in the back of his mind is, it is our job as the government of Britain to free our country altogether of COVID. And you as a professional medical man, say, "Excuse me, Secretary Hancock, that will never happen."
0:19:15.4 DB: Yeah.
0:19:16.0 PR: Is that correct?
0:19:16.5 DB: That's correct.
0:19:17.2 PR: All right. Now, what about his second claim? I'll read it again. The second central claim of you, of the Great Barrington declaration is that, "We can segregate the old and vulnerable on our way to herd immunity. That is simply not possible." "You can't protect them." He says.
0:19:34.6 DB: So, this is one of those points that I'm still baffled by, that the public health community that I know has all kinds of creative ideas of how to help people in a population be protected against disease. They're very creative generally, in thinking of ways to do focus protection from many, many diseases and conditions. The reaction of Matt Hancock is one example of it... Of that many people in the public health community was to just to throw up their hands and say, "We can't do it". Now, what they're saying and what they had in the back of their heads, and you could see it from the policy was that, "If we lockdown, we will protect the old, we'll protect the vulnerable just by the fact that we've stop the disease from spreading".
0:20:22.9 PR: Right.
0:20:24.0 DB: That's turned out to be catastrophically false. 80% of the deaths in the United States are people over 60. 80% of the deaths are people over 60. We did not protect the vulnerable because we didn't even attempt to protect the vulnerable. That wasn't... Just to give you some sense of how backward it was, we sent people in the early days of the epidemic that were infected with COVID back into nursing homes, who then infected a large number of vulnerable people. Instead of realizing who the vulnerable were and seeking to protect them, that was the scarce resource. We thought hospital beds were the scarce resource. Most parts of the country in March, April 2020 empty hospital beds.
0:21:06.4 PR: Right.
0:21:08.0 DB: There were other strategies we could use. So we could have... We suggested, for instance. One was, we have older people living alone at home, we said, "Okay, you can go to grocery stores, and we'll give you an hour." But then they're now in community with a whole bunch of other people, even though they're older, potentially passing the disease on.
0:21:26.8 PR: Right.
0:21:28.0 DB: We used DoorDash to make sure that people of the laptop class could get food.
0:21:32.8 PR: You mean, under the lockdown?
0:21:34.1 DB: Yeah.
0:21:34.5 PR: Right. Alright.
0:21:35.4 DB: Instead, we could have offered free DoorDash to older people. Now, it would depend on the community and the living circumstances. But it would be a local thing, right?
0:21:46.4 PR: So Matt Hancock says, "Oh, we can't isolate the vulnerable. We really can't isolate the old". And then tell me if this layman's response is correct. I don't know what the lockdown caused in the United Kingdom, but it was even more severe than most places here. And in this country, it cost trillions of dollars. And the government spent tens of billions printing money and sending it to people who... For a fraction of that cost, surely, it would not have been beyond the ken of man to say, "Everybody 75 and older, you should shelter at home. We're going to deliver food to you. We'll airdrop masks or whatever other... " And they never even tried.
0:22:33.7 DB: Yeah. And you could have...
0:22:34.4 PR: Is that correct?
0:22:34.6 DB: That's correct. We could have just offered those kinds of things... So for instance, we used hotel rooms to house young homeless people.
0:22:42.6 PR: Right.
0:22:43.3 DB: We could have offered it to many people in LA County, for instance, that I know about, there's multi-generational homes, Grandma living with grandson.
0:22:51.8 PR: Right.
0:22:52.6 DB: Grandson goes out, says, "Oh I might have been exposed. We'll offer the hotel room temporarily to grandma until... "
0:23:00.0 PR: The federal government could have booked every room in every Marriott hotel...
0:23:04.5 DB: They rented it though.
0:23:04.8 PR: For six months at a fraction of the cost that we imposed on ourselves with this lockdown.
0:23:10.8 DB: Yeah.
0:23:11.1 PR: So the Matt Hancock argument is, We can't lock down the old exposed vulnerable people, but we can lock down the entire society. It makes no sense. Am I missing something?
0:23:21.0 DB: Yeah. No, you're not missing anything. It was a failure of imagination on the part of public health.
0:23:24.6 PR: Okay.
0:23:24.9 DB: And it would be a local thing. Right? Every single local community has different needs for its elderly, so you would have to do different things in different communities.
0:23:32.3 PR: Right.
0:23:32.3 DB: So the local public health have to play a role. Instead, the public health agencies in developed countries, and certainly, the US and the UK said, "Only lockdown will help." it didn't.
0:23:44.1 PR: Okay. Again, You issue the Great Barrington Declaration on October 4th, 2020. Matt Hancock speaks on October 13, on October 15, Dr. Anthony Fauci is asked about the Great Barrington Declaration in a call with reporters, I'm quoting his response, quote Gotta get this one word for word, Dr. Fauci: "I'll tell you exactly how I feel about that. If you let infections rip as it were, and say, let everybody get infected, that's going to be able to get infected, and then we'll have herd immunity, quite frankly, that is nonsense. And anybody who knows anything about epidemiology will tell you that that is nonsense and very dangerous". Close quote. Okay, I will let you address the substance of the argument, but this layman cannot avoid observing that Dr. Fauci gave the back of his hand to the three of you who signed the Great Barrington Declaration. It turns out that your own specialty is not epidemiology, but Martin Kulldorff is an epidemiologist at Harvard, and Sunetra Gupta is an epidemiologist at Oxford. They're both published in journal after... It doesn't even make sense what he is saying.
0:25:02.5 DB: Pete, I've been publishing in epidemiology for 20 years.
0:25:05.1 PR: Oh, you... Okay, okay, okay, okay.
0:25:06.8 DB: Yeah.
0:25:08.4 PR: So alright. So, he gives you the back of his hand, "Ask anybody who knows anything about epidemiology, and he'll say, those three people are crazy". Stanford, Harvard, Oxford. You're not crazy.
0:25:17.8 DB: Yeah, and also tens of thousands of other scientists signed on. Doctors signed on.
0:25:21.1 PR: Yes.
0:25:24.8 DB: The substance of it is a piece of propaganda by Fauci. He said in that quote you read, that we were calling for the virus to rip through society. But we've just been talking about what we actually proposed. We were arguing for focus protection of the vulnerable.
0:25:39.3 PR: Yes.
0:25:42.1 DB: He wanted to... In order to justify the strategy that he's adopted, which is lockdowns...
0:25:48.1 PR: Yes.
0:25:49.7 DB: He wanted to contrast this with something he would call a "Herd immunity strategy", a "Let it rip" strategy. Right? The effect of the lockdowns have been essentially to "Let it drip." We have let the virus drip through all of society, just extended the time, without protecting the vulnerable.
0:26:08.6 PR: Okay, so hold on. Let me grasp this. Let me make sure I've got this right. The difference between the great Barrington Declaration and Fauci's position, aside from the massive cost, that Fauci's position imposed, is simply a matter of speed. That is to say, the virus is going to spread. If we lock down, it'll spread a little bit more slowly, maybe quite a lot more slowly, but it will still spread. Is that correct?
0:26:40.5 DB: Yeah. I don't actually think it spread all that much more slowly. What it did is it protected a certain class of people. The people who could afford to lock down. The people who didn't lose their jobs because they could do their job from home during lockdown. It protected them. So I'll just give you a statistic from LA County. The Age-Adjusted death rate from COVID in LA County for the set of locations that are in the bottom 10% of poverty...
0:27:09.3 PR: I'll use the laymans term. For poor neighborhoods.
0:27:14.0 DB: Well, as for rich neighborhoods, there was one-third the death rate from COVID than in the poor neighborhoods, in LA county. One-third of the death... So essentially, the policy that Dr. Fauci espoused said, "Look, if you're an... " We called it essential workers, it's like a weird Orwellian term. If you're essential and 60, well go out and work, it doesn't matter, you have to go out and earn a living. If you're 25 and non-essential and you're not gonna lose your job 'cause you can do it from home, we're gonna protect you.
0:27:43.7 PR: Hold on. I want... So the effect of the lockdown, again, if I'm being melodramatic, as I try to grab... As I try to understand this in layman's terms, the effect of the lockdown... Here's what we know about Los Angeles. If you lived in Beverly Hills or Bel-Air or up in Pacific Palisades, you were fine.
0:28:02.3 DB: Yeah.
0:28:02.9 PR: But if you lived in Watts or in El Barrio or somewhere, somebody in your family got sick...
0:28:09.6 DB: Yeah, you were exposed.
0:28:10.8 PR: You were exposed, 'cause your Grandmother got sick or you...
0:28:11.7 DB: Yeah, 'cause you were working, 'cause you had to work through the whole epidemic and you are essential.
0:28:16.1 PR: Okay.
0:28:17.3 DB: But, that is the effect of what he proposed. It was almost a reverse focused protection, right? Instead of protecting the vulnerable, the people we know to be vulnerable, older populations, we expose the vulnerable and then... And protected the relatively well-to-do young.
0:28:33.9 PR: Okay. The cost of the lockdown. You've gone into the costs a little bit, you've mentioned the costs. Here, we are taping this program in October, 2021. What do we know? I'd like if I may, to break it down to what we know about the costs that the lockdown has imposed in this country, and then elsewhere in the world. What do we know about the cost of the lockdown in this country? What are the figures that have come in?
0:29:05.5 DB: I mean, I think this is one of those things where it's difficult to say in a short number of words because the scope of it is so devastating. So, we've already talked about children, the lost schooling for children and the lost opportunities for children, that will last... The effects of that will last their life. Their entire life. We'll be counting those costs for a very long time. The psychological cost where I mentioned there have been a vast increase in opioid deaths, a lot... Remember during the 2008 Great Recession...
0:29:36.9 PR: Yes.
0:29:38.0 DB: There was a deaths of despair.
0:29:39.5 PR: Yes.
0:29:39.8 DB: Well, those are back, but magnified. There are...
0:29:45.3 PR: Alcoholism, opioid abuse, domestic violence...
0:29:49.4 DB: Yeah, let me give you a very small one, against... Among children. The reports of child abuse declined during 2020, during the lockdown. It wasn't that children weren't being abused, it's that child abuse tends to get picked up at school. So, what we had was a huge increase un-measured in child abuse that was not dealt with properly by the authorities. Domestic abuse is a very similar kind of thing. I think the scope of the lockdown has touched every single American. Everyone understands, even if they were in favor of it, that something went deeply wrong.
0:30:29.5 PR: The rest of the world. Here's a presentation, I'm going to quote you from a presentation you delivered last spring at an event, sponsored by Hillsdale College. "In the last 20 years", says Dr. Bhattacharya, "we have lifted a billion people worldwide out of poverty, this year, the lockdown year. This year we're reversing that progress, and an estimated 130 million people will starve. Another result of the lockdowns is that people have stopped bringing their children in for immunizations against diseases like Diphtheria, Whooping cough and Polio. 80 million children worldwide are now at risk of these diseases." Close quote. I want you to tell me you were exaggerating for dramatic effect.
0:31:13.7 DB: Unfortunately, I wasn't. 100 million people have been thrown into poverty, tens of millions of people have been thrown into starvation. You know dire food insecurity is a consequence of the lockdowns worldwide, especially in Africa.
0:31:29.2 PR: So, meaning that when the Western World, which is the rich world contracts its economy, when we shut down our economy, you're okay if you live in Pacific Palisades. But if you live in, somewhere in Africa where you're on a subsistent... When the world economy shrinks, the very poor, and the very poor tend to live on other continents, are exposed in the rudest way. Their lives themselves become at risk.
0:31:57.7 DB: I mean, we spent the last two decades or more, developing systems of trade and globalization that effectively were promises to poor countries, that changed their economies to rely on these systems and overnight, we violated those promises. So, it's not surprising that the greatest harms of the lockdowns have happened in poor countries around the world. I'll just give you another statistic about children, it was in March of this past year, the UN estimated that... Put out a report saying that 250... Nearly 250,000 children had died of starvation as a consequence of the economic dislocation from lockdowns in South Asia alone. The harm to children is incalculable from this.
0:32:48.9 PR: Why? Why? Why? Why? Why the public health establishment got it wrong? I will now try to defend them.
0:32:57.1 DB: Good luck.
0:32:57.7 PR: Okay. Well, the precautionary principle, the broad principle, you could almost call it a philosophy, that when we're dealing with uncertainty, as indeed we were, particularly in the first say, six or seven months, we should always err on the side of caution. And public health officials may have gotten it wrong. Perhaps you're right, perhaps we should have pursued focus protection and left the rest of the economy open. But they did so on reasonable and even admirable grounds, locking down was the safest thing to do. Jay?
0:33:36.2 DB: Yeah. So, the thing about the precautionary principle is that when you apply it, you cannot apply it asymmetrically. So let me tell you what I mean by that. If you have a lockdown... If you have a disease and you don't know it's characteristics, you don't know it's death rate, you don't know who it harms. The Precautionary Principle says well, assume the worst about it.
0:33:57.6 PR: Right, right, right.
0:33:58.7 DB: Right? So that you then have a sufficient impetus to take action. But at the same time, the actions you take, the precautionary principle doesn't say, assume the best about them.
0:34:12.9 DB: Assume the worst of the disease and the best of your actions. That is not what the precautionary principle says.
0:34:17.7 PR: Alright.
0:34:18.1 DB: So it was a catastrophic misapplication of the precautionary principle if people are reasoning that way. They were utterly blind. I think Dr. Fauci is like most of all on this, utterly blind to the harms of the lockdown. In fact, I saw that there was a back and forth with Rand Paul and Fauci...
0:34:38.5 PR: Senator Paul and Dr. Fauci, right? Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
0:34:42.6 DB: It was striking to me, it was relatively early in the epidemic and Rand Paul, Senator Paul asked Dr. Fauci about, "Well, what about these other harms?" And he said, "Well, that's not my job, in effect." Well, whose job is it? Right? If you are going to make policy decisions like this, you cannot assume that the things you're doing are automatically effective, just because there's uncertainty about the effectiveness of it. You cannot assume that it has no harm. That's not part of the precautionary principle, that is essentially a public health malpractice to assume that the thing you're doing has no harm. That the thing you're guarding against has enormous harm. You end up in a situation where you take actions that end up with the kinds of consequences we're talking about, without actually stopping the disease you have catastrophic harm to the population at large from the lockdowns.
0:35:37.3 PR: Okay, so let me attempt another defense of the public health officials. And the defense is, science proceeds by dissent and experimentation and argumentation that all should take place openly. But there are moments when public health, in effect shuts down the scientific process, in effect honestly shuts down free speech because lives are at stake. If you have decided, as the public health officials did decide, that a lockdown is necessary to save lives, again, we impute to them the highest motives. Then the only way to effect the lockdown, is to effect it. And that means anybody who disagrees just has to pipe down for a while. And that is why Dr. Fauci felt free, perhaps felt even it was his duty to suggest that you and Martin Cole Dorf and Sunita Gupta were... Just to give you the back of his hand, because you were threatening as he saw it, you were threatening a lockdown, which was intended to protect lives. And for a moment, we not only have to suspend our usual activities, but we have to suspend our usual freedom of speech, we have to suspend our freedom as scientists to dissent, to argue, to suggest alternatives. All that gets locked down too, because we're trying to save lives.
0:37:09.4 DB: Yeah, I mean, I think there's a little bit of force to your argument, but only a little bit. Alright? So in public health, there is a norm of unanimity of messaging, right? So...
0:37:20.0 PR: Right, okay.
0:37:21.1 DB: Right. So if I tell you...
0:37:22.5 PR: So I was on to something, all right.
0:37:24.3 DB: Well, let's not go too far. I mean, if I tell you smoking is good for you... Well, I'm doing you a huge disservice. I'm basically misrepresenting an enormous literature that documents that smoking is terrible for you.
0:37:39.3 PR: Right.
0:37:40.0 DB: And so someone who speaks up in public health and says, oh, smoking is good for you, has violated a real norm in public health. And the unanimity of messaging is important because the message shouldn't be confused. In public health, you actually have limited opportunity to tell the public things.
0:37:58.1 PR: Right.
0:37:58.4 DB: Because the attention of the public naturally isn't on public health people, it shouldn't be, it should on their own lives.
0:38:03.3 PR: Right.
0:38:04.7 DB: And so if I tell you, that smoking is good for you, I've really violated a fundamental norm in public health, that is something very, very irresponsible. That norm was applied to COVID. But the ethical basis for that norm is that the scientific process has worked itself through and reached a mature stage. So that the thing on which the norm is being enforced...
0:38:32.2 PR: There's no serious doubt about it.
0:38:33.9 DB: Exactly. In this case, we had a new virus. We had enormous uncertainty about its... We've talked about it from the beginning, about the death rate, who's most at risk, how it spreads, what interventions work and what don't work. Enormous fights going on within the scientific community or certainly... We had uncertainty within the scientific community around this. And before it was resolved people like Dr. Fauci jumped to this public health norm.
0:39:03.1 PR: All right. All right. That also explains why we see him on the air all the time even now, he feels it's his responsibility to convey this message. But it's all mistaken?
0:39:16.4 DB: Yeah, I mean, I think it's actually had very pernicious effects. So it in effect, shut down the scientific debate.
0:39:23.5 PR: Alright.
0:39:23.7 DB: And so one of the things that happened in with the Great Barrington declaration is that after we released it, I've lost track of how many scientists have written to me saying, they've silenced themselves.
0:39:35.2 PR: I'm with you but don't tell anybody, that kind of thing.
0:39:38.2 DB: And some people actually lost their jobs.
0:39:38.7 PR: By the way we should know, the number of scientists, medical scientists and public health professionals, physicians and nurses who have now signed the Great Barrington Declaration, approaches 60,000.
0:39:52.4 DB: Yes. Alright. And...
0:39:52.9 PR: In addition to which there's some unknown numbers saying, "I'm with you, but I do not dare putting my name forward."
0:40:00.4 DB: I mean People lost their jobs for signing it.
0:40:02.7 PR: Okay. Those are the public health officials. How could the economists have got this all wrong from an article that you co-authored with Mikko Packalen called The Silence of the Economist, quote. I'm quoting you, Jay, "Economists who study and write about these phenomena that is phenomena such as the costs of lockdown, economists had a special responsibility to raise the alarm. Economists had one job. Notice the costs, the profession failed." Why?
0:40:39.5 DB: I think... And you can talk about personal reasons. So most economists including me are part of the laptop class, we don't lose our jobs when the lockdown happens. And we're human, so we might be scared of the disease itself, we think, "Okay, what's good for me is good for everybody else." I think there's some personal... Some aspects of the personal aspects around this that are there. The reasons that some professional economist gave included things like, "Well, because people were so scared, they would have locked down anyway. You don't have to formally say you can't leave home, everyone would just automatically stay at home because they're so scared of getting the disease." So by the reasoning of economists they'd say, "Well, that means the lockdown itself didn't have any effect, because people already would have stayed at home, in any case."
0:41:26.3 PR: The formal legal mandate had no effect because people would have done the same thing on their own.
0:41:30.2 DB: Yeah, to which I say that's insane. I would have sent my kids to school for the last 18 months, happily, because the risk to them from not going to school is so much more than the risk to them from COVID. Many, many people worked during the epidemic, the essential class of workers worked in the epidemic. It's not true that people would have voluntarily stayed at home for 18 months or 19 months or whatever, because of the fear of the virus, that's just false. The formal lockdowns had enormous consequences, and to pretend otherwise is not right. The other thing I'd say is that the fear of the disease itself was part of the public health strategy. It was essentially an inducement of panic, so that if anyone said anything that suggests that, well, for children, maybe the disease is not so harmful you get jumped on. The New York Times spent all of last summer trying to panic parents over sending their children back to school, for instance. The panic was part of the policy...
0:42:38.8 PR: We've all experienced this in our own lives. If your mask slips down, people give you the evil eye or worse. The same kind of, people can only behave that way toward each other because they're scared, right?
0:42:51.1 DB: And the fear is part of the public health... I don't know how else to say it, I might just say polite... I'm trying to think of more polite way to say, but it was essentially a propaganda campaign to induce panic in the population.
0:43:04.2 PR: Okay, now may I offer... A moment ago, I tried to defend public health officials, now I would like to launch an entirely new line of attack on economists, one that has not occurred to you as far as I know. And I'm wondering whether it's because you're naive or whether it's because I'm so cynical. But here it goes, this will take a moment to set it up. March 2020, that's just as the nation is being locked down, it's the same month in which you published your piece. The New Yorker magazine published a review of a new book by two Princeton economists and the book was titled, The Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. The central finding was that unemployment leads to an array of pathologies, just as you talked about drug abuse, depression, alcoholism and so forth, cutting short people's lives. Headline of the review; Why Americans are dying from despair, the sub-head, "The unfairness of our economy can be measured, not only in dollars, but in deaths." Close quote.
0:44:11.2 PR: In other words, as the economy is being locked down, the New Yorker publishes a review of a book that makes it very clear that economists do understand the correlation between... And in fact, even every percentage increase in unemployment suggests an increase in this much alcoholism, this much... It's all really well understood. And then the lockdown comes and the whole argument about deaths of despair among economists just disappears as long as the argument is useful to attack capitalism and free markets, we will trumpet the the argument in the New Yorker. But if the argument could be used to raise questions about the lockdown, down the memory hole. So I am saying that this little layman looks at that and says, "There is something really ideological going on here. The economists didn't count, Because they didn't want to know the numbers. I suspect now, you are entirely free to say that I'm full of low suspicions that I should dismiss immediately, but how do you respond?
0:45:27.6 DB: I don't know in that particular case.
0:45:31.3 PR: That book, those economists. You said that was...
0:45:34.4 DB: I have a lot of respect for those economist, but I will say this, that the professed ideals that many, many people have, concern for the poor, concern for the working class, concern for children, as best I can tell that concern was lip service. As soon as the fear of COVID hit, all of those ideals that we had professed, it's not just economists, I think very, very large numbers of people have essentially forgotten about those ideals. I mean, I don't want... I'm not a cynical kind of person I tend to think...
0:46:12.5 PR: I am. I'll handle that for both of us.
0:46:14.8 DB: I don't want to think that they don't hold those ideals. In my view, much of it is the fear of COVID essentially gripped... I think there is parts of our brain that are almost evolved for this primal panic around infectious disease. We've lived in a society for decades where infectious disease has been conquered, and you have this new...
0:46:36.8 PR: So you're saying we spent the last 18 months living on our reptile brains, and it's time for the frontal cortex to reassert itself.
0:46:42.7 DB: Yeah, I think people really do still have those values, and they just need to recall themselves.
0:46:49.7 PR: That's the last 18 months. Let me ask you now, this is really as a layman, this is me getting to ask a guy who actually knows stuff, questions that I have, and that friends have. Where do we stand now? State by state evidence on whether the lockdowns worked, where they worked, where they didn't work. Florida, broadly speaking, it imposed limited lockdowns and then lifted them as quickly as possible, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, whom you have advised, just did not like lockdowns and was very dubious for... As far as I can tell, he subscribes to the arguments you've made here that they do more harm than good. California, which has imposed some of the... Which imposed and continues in various counties to impose restrictions, mandates, and so forth. Where did more people die? Where was it worst? What do we, What we... Here are two different models. Which one was better?
0:47:46.2 DB: Right. So, Florida is one of the oldest states in the nation, California, one of the youngest. So you can't directly compare deaths because that, as we said...
0:47:56.1 PR: They have more old people in Florida.
0:47:57.0 DB: Yeah, so you would expect that there would be more deaths in Florida, simply because there's more old people. So, but once you adjust for that fact, once you say, "Okay, well, let's look at people that are over 85," for instance, well there's fewer 85-year-olds per capita that died in Florida, than in California. Well, what about 75 to 84? Fewer old people, 75 to 84 per capita that died in Florida, than in California. What about 65 to 74? The same thing. Fewer deaths in Florida than in California. There's a... It's a... For the young people, Florida has been through four different waves and California three but through those waves...
0:48:35.7 PR: Is there a fourth wave coming to California?
0:48:37.5 DB: Probably.
0:48:38.1 PR: Okay.
0:48:38.6 DB: Yeah. So and...
0:48:38.9 PR: In other words, it's purely seasonal.
0:48:41.0 DB: Yeah, it seems seasonal.
0:48:41.9 PR: Alright.
0:48:43.5 DB: So, slightly more young people have died in Florida than in California, but it's almost equal. And so if you do an age-adjusted death rate for Florida using CDC data through September 21, of this year, what I found was that they're almost exactly equal. The outcome as far as COVID goes, Florida and California are almost exactly equal.
0:49:07.0 PR: So the disease had its way in both states, but California tormented its citizens in a way that Florida did not.
0:49:15.0 DB: California is second to last in the number of days of school for kids last year. By the way, I should say that's public school kids. Public school kids were out of school in California, private school kids, many of them actually got to go to school.
0:49:29.4 PR: Right.
0:49:29.7 DB: Florida, 100% opened for kids to go to school in person all of last year.
0:49:36.3 PR: Alright. Vaccinations, you're for them or against them?
0:49:40.8 DB: I think vaccines are probably the most important and effective medical invention ever. I think they're great.
0:49:51.4 PR: So what do you say to people... So this is where there's a kind of... There's a subtext that you're sticking up for Liberty, you trust individuals, but you really don't have any patience, you have no more patience than Anthony Fauci or Joe Biden for unvaccinated Americans, is that correct?
0:50:09.8 DB: You're asking about the COVID vaccines or vaccines in general?
0:50:13.0 PR: No, no, no, the COVID vaccines.
0:50:14.2 DB: Yeah, so COVID vaccines in particular are extremely effective at protecting against severe disease, and I think that if you had a public health that was trustworthy, that the people in the country trusted...
0:50:28.2 PR: Public trusted authority or establishment, right.
0:50:30.1 DB: Exactly. You would have a much broader uptake of the vaccines, than we've seen. We've seen actually pretty broad uptake of the vaccines, especially in the older population, but not universal. And the reason is because significant chunks of the population, African-Americans, some poor white communities, don't trust public health.
0:50:56.0 PR: And for a good reason, Apparently.
0:50:58.3 DB: And for good reason. You could think public health has failed the United States and failed the world.
0:51:02.5 PR: Alright, so briefly, what would you say to someone who's still... Honestly, there may be viewers who won't take it from Anthony Fauci, but might take it from Jay Bhattacharya. What would you say to someone who still hasn't gotten vaccinated?
0:51:14.5 DB: And you'd think that for someone who's older, especially, the vaccine is incredibly important. COVID is a very deadly disease, as we talked about for people who's older and the vaccine, while they're not, we haven't seen... It's only been in human use for 10 months, right. So we don't know all of the side effects... But we've seen enough to know it's pretty safe.
0:51:34.2 PR: And we do know... So it doesn't prevent the disease, you can still get COVID, but you're much less likely to suffer severely or go to the hospital, correct?
0:51:45.4 DB: That's correct.
0:51:45.5 PR: Anybody's experience, in particular, you care to mention?
0:51:48.6 DB: Alright, Peter, I had COVID, I went out...
0:51:51.1 PR: After you got the vaccine?
0:51:52.0 DB: So I had the vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine in April, and I got COVID in August four months later.
0:51:56.4 PR: And you went to bed for a few days.
0:51:58.0 DB: Yeah, it was, I mean...
0:52:00.1 PR: No hospital?
0:52:00.2 DB: No hospital. No...
0:52:00.9 PR: Did you go to the doc?
0:52:01.8 DB: I didn't die. It wasn't Like I needed a doctor.
0:52:03.1 PR: Well, you are a doctor, so maybe you don't need to go to one.
0:52:06.2 DB: But yeah, I think, so the vaccine is quite effective for that. So I would recommend getting it if you're... Especially if you're older. If you're worried about it, I'd say find a doctor you trust and talk to them about it. I think the coercion that we've used to try to get everyone vaccinated is misguided for several reasons, a couple of reasons. One is, as you said Peter, it doesn't stop disease spread, you can still get infected. Well, that means the vaccine, unlike many other vaccines, which do stop disease spread, they protect me, but it doesn't protect you.
0:52:39.5 PR: Right.
0:52:40.3 DB: And so many people who already had the disease, they've recovered from it. Why force them to get it when they're already pretty well protected against the disease.
0:52:46.8 PR: Right.
0:52:48.8 PR: So, here's what Joe Biden said, announcing his mandate. Here's the federal mandate, announced last month. It still hasn't been put into effect as I understand it, but here's the federal mandate announced last month. "The mandate will require all employers with over 100 employees to force employees either to be vaccinated or to show a negative COVID test each week. Vaccines will be mandated for all federal workers and contractors with no testing option." And by the way, that includes every major airline in the country, which is one reason we saw airline disruptions this past week. President Biden addressing Americans, addressing in particular the unvaccinated. "We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. Your refusal has cost all of us." Is that the right way to speak to unvaccinated Americans?
0:53:38.3 DB: It's not the way to speak to Americans at all. He's not... I mean that is terrible public health messaging, right. You do not talk down to people. You treat them like equals, you treat them like intelligent people, and you give them information and you trust them to make good choices. That's how you convince people to do this. This vaccine mandate is... Has already created all kinds of disruptions. We worried about not having enough beds, hospital beds. Well, many, many nurses are essentially quitting work. Yeah, I think it was like 70,000 in New York state alone? We're gonna have shortages of hospital supplies. There's a... And part of the mandate is that every military officer has to... Military member has to get it.
0:54:24.4 PR: Right.
0:54:24.6 PR: Tens of thousands of military officers are gonna quit, or military personnel are gonna quit, rather than get the vaccine, or be fired. We'll have have disruptions on a major scale, and it's a failure of public health messaging. It's not even necessary. The disease is not going to stop spreading if 90% are vaccinated. The vaccine does not stop disease. You've seen in Israel, for instance, a very highly vaccinated population with the COVID vaccine, huge increases in cases. Iceland. The vaccine is not the key to ending this disease. The vaccine is the key to protecting the vulnerable, for sure, but not the key to ending the disease.
0:55:01.9 PR: Let's play a clip. I've quoted doctor... I've quoted President Biden. Let's play a brief clip from Dr. Fauci.
0:55:08.2 Dr. Fauci: Indeed, you do have personal liberties for yourself and you should be in control of that, but you are a member of society and as a member of society, reaping all the benefits of being a member of society, you have a responsibility to society. And I think each of us, particularly in the context of a pandemic that's killing millions of people, you have got to look at it and say, there comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision for the greater good of society.
0:55:51.8 PR: So that's the underlying argument in all of this. Locking down, mandating vaccinations. What do you make of the argument?
0:56:00.7 DB: I think generally, coercion is a poor tactic in public health. It breeds distrust and ultimately undermines itself in terms of effectiveness. I think part of the reason why large chunks of the population, there's some chunks of the population that said, "I'm not gonna get the vaccine," is because they don't trust public health, because the lockdowns were promised to stop the disease from spreading and it didn't work.
0:56:22.5 PR: Right.
0:56:23.4 DB: This kind of coercion is very tempting in public health, and yet, whenever it occurs, you may achieve some short-term goal, you may get vaccination rates up to some... But you end up with harms in the long run, right. I've had people write to me and tell me that they don't trust this vaccine, and now while they used to trust the childhood vaccines, which are really effective, they're gonna start looking into that...
0:56:49.5 PR: Polio, measles and so forth.
0:56:50.2 DB: Yeah, I think the trust in public health is an invaluable resource and it's been squandered by these kinds of attitudes.
0:56:58.1 PR: That's a school mom, not a scientist.
0:57:00.8 DB: Yeah, well, certainly not a public health official.
0:57:01.7 PR: Alright. Schools. In Florida, Governor DeSantis has imposed a ban on mask mandates for school children. Meaning local school boards don't get to require children to wear masks, and Texas Governor Abbott issued an executive order banning mask mandates in schools again, saying schools don't get to require children to wear masks. Now, it turns out that in both of those, there's so many legal challenges that I honestly haven't been able to work out quite what the state of play is now. I think that the ban on mask mandates of Governor DeSantis is in effect in Florida, but for at least the time being, Governor Abbott's has been removed in Texas. Okay. That's the state of play as best I can work it out. From an open letter by Randy Wine Garden, President of the American Federation of Teachers, "Governors trying to score ideological points by banning mask mandates and bullying school leaders for implementing safety protocols are stoking hostile and unsafe climates." Close quote. Jay?
0:58:09.7 DB: Yeah, so I think... Actually just one quick thing. The mask policies are that if you... The counties or schools can adopt them, require them, but then they have to allow parents to opt out.
0:58:24.9 PR: That's in Florida or in both cases?
0:58:26.2 DB: Yeah, it's in Florida. I'm not actually 100% sure about the Texas one.
0:58:29.9 PR: Alright.
0:58:30.2 DB: In any case, the point is that in Florida and many other places, they wanna give parents some say in whether children are masked. So, let me just talk very quickly about what the state of the scientific evidence is, and I just... I'll give you it in a very, very simple way. In Europe, the European CDC says that masking kids under 12 is not recommended. In the United States, the US CDC says that masking kids two and up, toddlers and up, is required.
0:59:01.0 DB: The science is not settled on this. And it's very simple, we don't have good data on it. We do not have a randomized evidence.
0:59:08.2 PR: Why not? It's been 18 months, the CDC is funded to the extent of billions of dollars, why haven't they tested masks?
0:59:14.6 DB: It's a really good question. I wish I knew the answer. We should have had randomized evidence on this already, it's divisive because we don't have good evidence on it.
0:59:24.0 PR: Alright, Jay, last question, last question. I'm going to quote the journalist and author, John Tierney, just to quote, just to indicate that you're not entirely alone. John Tierney writing in the City Journal, "we still have no convincing evidence that the lockdown saved lives, but lots of evidence that they have already cost lives and will prove deadlier in the long run than the virus itself." Close quote. Jay Bhattacharya, how can we ensure that no such thing ever happens again?
1:00:00.6 DB: I think the first thing that has to happen is that public health should apologize. The public health establishment in the United States and the world has failed the public. I think we should acknowledge the incredibly unequal harms of the lockdown and essentially...
1:00:18.5 PR: Rich people did fine and poor people were just tossed to the viruses. Isn't that roughly what happened here?
1:00:26.5 DB: The funny thing about the Great Barrington declaration is that it's not a new idea. This is the same...
1:00:31.3 PR: Focus protection.
1:00:32.3 DB: Yes, the same plan we used for 100 years of epidemics and pandemics. The principles are protect the vulnerable, disrupt society as little as possible. Our public health agencies should make a public commitment to adopt those kinds of principles again. Even in the face of many, many different kinds of challenges those are going to prove, as principles, gonna prove much more effective at protecting the public than the kinds of principles that we've adopted now. Which essentially is, "Let's eradicate the virus at all costs."
1:01:07.2 PR: I said that was the last question. I lied. Here's the last question. You'd like quite a dramatic change in the Public Health establishment. You'd like 'em to change their minds. It wouldn't bother you if there were an apology. How does that kind of change happen in this society? One presidential election? Two presidential elections? Or is it like the old joke about... What was it, John Maynard Keynes said that progress is made in economics one death at a time? You just have to... The Fauci's of this world are so bought into what they have done, that you have to wait for an entire generational turnover. How can what you hope to see happen, happen?
1:01:55.1 DB: I think ultimately, Public Health is a political science in the following sense. No public health measure is taken in and of itself by public health, it's a political decision whether to allow public health to adopt it or not, or implement it or not. What happened during this pandemic is that many, many politicians outsourced their responsibility to the public to public health people.
1:02:22.1 PR: Including Donald Trump.
1:02:23.2 DB: Including Donald Trump. And the consequence of that is that the normal checks that would allow you to say, "Well, the politician made a good choice or not," had have been off-loaded to a set of people who have no checks at all.
1:02:40.1 PR: Politicians are used to balancing competing interests, it's the nature of their work. Public Health officials are not.
1:02:46.6 DB: Right. They're focused on, as you saw with Dr. Fauci, a single thing, which is infection control. But society flourishes when it has many goals, a plural set of goals, not a single goal. And so I think the idea that our entire social life can be upended by essentially a relatively narrow set of scientists and a narrow set of public health people... We have to build protections against that, clearly, in our political systems. How exactly that would work out, I'm not... That's a little bit beyond my expertise, frankly, but it is very clear that we need something like that in place.
1:03:28.7 PR: Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, thank you.
1:03:32.0 DB: Thank you.
1:03:33.2 PR: For Uncommon Knowledge, the Hoover Institution, and Fox nation, I'm Peter Robinson.
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