Great Barrington Declaration legends Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya have written an op-ed in the New York Post calling for a U.S. ‘Covid commission’ to help the country come to terms with the debacle of the last three years and learn from it. Here’s an excerpt.
When America faced the national tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in 1986, Congress created a commission with independent outside experts, including the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. His iconic demonstration of a faulty O-ring made brittle in the cold as the cause of the Challenger disaster led to fundamental reforms at NASA.
The American people deserve a similar bipartisan, scientifically minded COVID-19 commission so the public-health disaster of the past three years is not repeated.
Due to insufficient protection of older people — whose Covid-mortality risk is more than 1,000-fold higher than that of the young — official counts attribute more than one million deaths to Covid in the United States and almost seven million worldwide. Though people vehemently disagreed about the wisdom of lockdowns, school closures, vaccine mandates and discrimination, masks and so much else, there is near-universal agreement that what we did failed.
By early 2022, about 95% of Americans had contracted Covid despite the harsh countermeasures. A John Hopkins University meta-analysis concluded that lockdowns failed to contain the spread of Covid. At best, they temporarily protected the laptop class, who could work from home while being served by the working class.
The pandemic response itself has wrought tremendous collateral harm. There is now broad agreement that the school closures — in some states running a year or more — have set kids behind in ways that will lead them to worse outcomes as adults, including shorter, poorer lives.
One peer-reviewed paper estimated the spring 2020 closures alone may have cost American children millions of years in life expectancy. The damages are unequally distributed, with poor and minority children suffering the worst learning losses. Hundreds of thousands of kids never returned when schools finally opened.
So the American people deserve answers to fundamental questions about the pandemic. On what empirical basis were schools closed? Did public-health decision-makers consider the harms of their policies? Why do American public-health authorities insist on masking children as young as two years old when mask wearing “makes little or no difference” for Covid’s spread?
Perhaps the most perplexing sin of the public-health establishment is that it abandoned an essential commitment to science. For instance, why did public-health authorities ignore clear scientific data that Covid infection-acquired immunity is stronger than vaccine-acquired immunity? Vaccine mandates forced many frontline workers — heroes who contracted Covid early in the pandemic while doing essential work — to choose between their careers and a vaccine that provides less protection than the natural immunity they already had. University presidents forced young male students, including those with excellent immunity from a prior Covid infection, to accept an elevated risk of myocarditis as the price of a college education.
Kulldorff and Bhattacharya draw attention to the Norfolk Group document they have produced with six colleagues, which they describe as a “blueprint with 80 pages of questions that such a commission should ask”.
Worth reading in full.