A proposal to defeat the coronavirus by cloistering the most vulnerable and allowing the illness to spread and burn out among the rest of the population has garnered a swift and harsh backlash from the scientific community.
The controversy emerged after a small group of scientists argued the United States should pursue herd immunity as a policy — that is, let most people go back to normal and ride out the pandemic until enough people have had the virus and are immune to it that the spread naturally stops.
Scientists in favor of the theory have signed the "Great Barrington Declaration," written during a think-tank meeting in the western Massachusetts town of the same name. The Trump administration seems to have endorsed it.
Critics argue that this herd immunity approach is well outside the mainstream of science and would have a catastrophic death toll.
This confrontation comes as 220,000 Americans have already died from the pandemic, and cases are surging again across the country.
Radio Boston spoke with one of the co-authors of the "Great Barrington Declaration": Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
We also hear from a co-author of the "John Snow Memorandum," condemning it: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a practicing infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.
This article was originally published on October 20, 2020.
This segment aired on October 20, 2020.