So trust me when I say my decision to sign the Great Barrington Declaration was personally significant.
You have most likely not heard all that much about this great document, created by three of the world’s leading infectious disease epidemiologists and signed by more than 12,000 public health scientists.
That’s because it goes against the prevailing liberal narrative that the only way to tackle the Covid pandemic is to lock down the country again, slash our dwindling civil liberties further and make life a misery for months — or even years — into the future as we hopelessly wait for a vaccine that may never come.
Big tech companies such as Google and the vast majority of the mainstream media are colluding to make sure the document gets as little attention as possible.
Sky News seemed to think it was a big scoop that a minuscule number of troublemakers signed it using fake names, just like every other petition circulated since the beginning of time.
But in the future, when experts calculate the true economic and personal devastation of locking down most of the Western world for a year, denying life-saving cancer treatment and creating a tidal wave of unnecessary poverty and mental health issues, the Great Barrington Declaration and everyone who signed it will be on the right side of history.
The thesis is a simple one and shouldn’t be considered all that controversial: Our policy approach to cope long-term with Covid needs to move towards “focused protection” of the most vulnerable to avoid “devastating effects on short and long-term public health”, especially for the working class and younger members of society.
The scientists state those at a low risk of being killed by Covid should “live their lives normally to build up herd immunity to the virus through natural infection”, while governments redirect resources into protecting folk in high-risk categories.
Those measures would need to include a steel ring of protection around care homes and providing deliveries of food and other essentials to all retired people.
Schools and universities would operate as normal. The hospitality industry, arts, music and sports would return.
So, too, would office working, with simple measures such as handwashing and a pledge to stay at home when sick. There is nothing political about this position, despite the loony Left in this country embracing damaging lockdowns with the same zealous fervour with which they tried to stop Brexit.
In all the weirdness of 2020, eminent epidemiologists have become more famous and idolised than many pop stars or TV actors.
Step forward Jay Bhattacharya, the Professor of Medicine at Stanford University in the US, who has become a hero to me as one of three creators of the Great Barrington Declaration.
In a compelling interview on my talkRADIO Drivetime show this week, he branded the UK’s current coronavirus policy as “immoral and inhumane”, insisting the lockdown strategy “has created enormous death and suffering” and “extends the epidemic into the indefinite future”. Herd immunity, he insists, has “controlled” the four other coronaviruses in common circulation and will mean “less death and less suffering” in the long term.
He also attacked the likes of Google and YouTube trying to censor the petition online, suggesting “tech companies that have been suppressing it are engaging in anti-science behaviour”.
“If they care about science, if they care about the truth, they will stop doing that,” he warned.
Boris Johnson took the first tentative steps this week towards a sensible long-term coronavirus policy, rejecting a national lockdown proposed by Doctor Doom Chris Whitty and his scare-merchant sidekick Patrick Vallance.
But the pressure is going to become intense in the days and weeks to come.
It may well become necessary for the Prime Minister to replace both Whitty and Vallance, and his lockdown-zealot Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who this week launched a scathing attack on the Great Barrington Declaration in Parliament, making it clear he is not open to another approach, even one based on science.
Our current coronavirus cure has become far worse than the disease itself.
We must never shut down the country again — the cost to health, wellbeing and our economy is too great. Besides, experts agree it only temporarily delays a rise in Covid infection rates anyway.
Even the liberal World Health Organisation now concedes there is only one long-term consequence of lockdowns: Poverty.
A different path will be needed over the next year. I’m convinced the Great Barrington Declaration provides a roadmap to get us there.
Ri sees bigger picture
FOR the past couple of years there has been a much-needed push in the fashion industry to start using plus-sized models.
But, until now, that innovation was limited to women.
Step forward Rihanna, who has launched a campaign featuring a big-boned male model called Steven G for her Savage X Fenty underwear range.
As he put it: “I can literally count on one hand the stores that offer ‘big and tall’ selections. I’ve yet to see one in major retailers, especially a fashionable brand.”
As one of those larger blokes who has found shopping on the high street a relentlessly depressing experience for years, I’m hopeful Rihanna’s big move will spark a revolution.
Tom has what it takes
I GOT to know Tom Parker well when he was a member of chart-topping hitmakers The Wanted and I was editing The Sun’s Bizarre column.
Unlike so many boyband stars at the height of their fame, Tom adored every minute of his time as a bona fide teen idol.
In all my encounters with him, it was obvious he was living out a dream – wide-eyed with wonder about all he was experiencing.
And Tom is such a gentleman, too. Always impeccably polite and down to earth, he was adored by all who worked with him.
I’ve been delighted over the past couple of years as he made the often difficult transition from pop star to family man with aplomb, marrying his gorgeous wife and becoming a dad.
So Tom’s brave revelation this week that he is battling a life-threatening brain tumour came as a hammer blow.
The outpouring of love from across the industry was immediate and genuine. I echo his bandmate and close pal Max George in saying that if there’s anyone with the verve for life to battle this damn thing, it’s Tom.
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