Focused Protection From the Great Barrington Declaration Never Made Sense

Why Focused Protection was never a real strategy for reducing the impact of Covid-19

Gideon M-K; Health Nerd


Pictured: Focused protection (from the rain). Source: Pexels

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s likely that nothing has been more hotly-debated than government intervention against the disease. Were stay-in-place orders a reasonable response to a novel disease, or a calamity beyond imagining? Did closing schools cause a tremendous amount of harm, or was it a life-saving intervention that prevented a huge swathe of deaths?

To close or not to close — that is the question. Source: Pexels

Into this fray, in 2020, the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) came barreling through. The GBD was a statement signed by a group of leading scientists, most of whom were not involved in epidemiology or the Covid-19 response, that basically said that any measures taken against Covid-19 should be voluntary, and focused only on the highest-risk people.

Underlying this credo was a policy response that the authors called “Focused Protection”. Focused protection was an integral part of the GBD — the idea of the document was that, if we protected the elderly and vulnerable for 3–6 months, and let everyone else in society get infected, the pandemic would shortly be over and we could go back to life as normal. Protection of the elderly was to be achieved through this so-called “focused” strategy, which was laid out in the FAQ of the GBD website itself as well as a couple of media pieces written by the GBD authors.

“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. We call this Focused Protection.”

Description of Focused Protection from the GBD website

Two years on, the idea of Focused Protection is still being relied on by the authors of the GBD and others to argue that the entire pandemic…