When COVID-19 broke out across the world in 2020, it produced widespread support for expanded public health measures, including “lockdowns,” that are estimated to have saved up to a million lives in the U.S. and millions more worldwide. As tragic as the pandemic has been, as many mistakes were made, we should be grateful to the health care workers, public health officials and vaccine researchers who have prevented it from being far worse. And we should be very concerned at how their work continues to be undermined by the right-wing ideology of “herd immunity,” which claims that the biggest danger comes not from the virus but from these very efforts to stop its spread.

From the start of the pandemic, a vocal minority argued for letting COVID-19 rip through most of the population. These views were most famously put forward in the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), organized by the libertarian free market think tank American Institute for Economic Research and authored by Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff and Sunetra Gupta. The GBD called for a “focused protection” strategy, advocating lifting all pandemic […]

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