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The White House is embracing a ‘herd immunity’ strategy that would allow COVID-19 to spread freely and is widely disputed by scientists



Steven Mnuchin wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump at a briefing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas in August. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images


© BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump at a briefing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas in August. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

  • White House officials say the administration is warming to a controversial herd-immunity strategy advocated in a document called the Great Barrington Declaration. 
  • Under the strategy, those not particularly vulnerable to serious infections are allowed to live normally while the vulnerable are shielded.
  • The document is widely criticized by scientists and emphatically rejected by the World Health Organization, the UK government, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House is embracing a controversial “herd immunity” strategy in response to the coronavirus, according to a briefing given by anonymous senior officials.

The strategy would allow the virus to spread freely with the belief that most of the population would develop a degree of immunity. It advocates shielding the more vulnerable to limit loss of life.

Two administration officials, who were not authorized to give their names, gave the briefing to media organizations including Business Insider.

They cited a controversial document, the Great Barrington Declaration, which was drawn up last week by Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

It has been signed by scientists and health experts across the world, but it has also drawn widespread criticism from public-health officials.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, takes an opposite view of the virus, urging drastic action to limit its spread.

The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Tuesday that a herd-immunity approach was “scientifically and ethically problematic.”

The UK’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, attacked the Great Barrington Declaration by name in Parliament on Tuesday

White House officials promote herd immunity declaration signed by fake names: report

White House officials have promoted a declaration supporting herd immunity that has reportedly been signed by fake names, The New York Times reported Tuesday.



a man wearing a suit and tie: White House officials promote herd immunity declaration signed by fake names: report


© Getty Images
White House officials promote herd immunity declaration signed by fake names: report

In a Monday phone call, White House officials cited the Great Barrington Declaration, which argues that the government should push for herd immunity with more infections among the healthy population, according to two senior administration officials.

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Supporters of the declaration use it to argue against lockdowns and more reopenings during the pandemic.

“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration states.

“The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is 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.”

The declaration has been signed by 445,902 concerned citizens, 9,510 medical and public health scientists and 25,049 medical practitioners, according to its website. But Sky News found last week that dozens of fake names had signed the document, including Dr. I.P. Freely, Dr. Person Fakename and Dr. Johnny Bananas.

Another signatory called himself Dr. Harold Shipman, a general practitioner in the United Kingdom. In 1998, a man named Harold Shipman was arrested after killing more than 200 of his patients.

The declaration was also signed by at least 18 self-declared homeopaths who signed as medical practitioners and 100 therapists, including massage therapists, hypnotherapists and psychotherapists.

Several health experts expressed concerns that the declaration is misrepresenting the size of the medical community’s support for the herd immunity approach, according to Sky News.

Experts predict that 85 to 90 percent of the U.S.

Donald Trump has turned the White House into a bribe factory

For years now it has been clear that Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in American history. No previous president has continued to operate a vast personal business empire while in office — creating more than 3,000 identifiable conflicts of interest. As I predicted three days before he was inaugurated, he has constantly jammed taxpayer money into his own pockets, corruptly bullied foreign powers into doing him political favors, and turned the Department of Justice into an arm of his campaign.

Now that The New York Times has gotten access to many years of Trump’s tax returns, we have new confirmed details about one particular aspect of his corruption — getting paid for political favors. In essence, he has turned the American executive branch into a giant bribery scheme. Wealthy people with business before the state stuff money into Trump’s pockets through his many properties, and in return he gives them the contracts or policy concessions they want.

Here’s how the bribery machine works: an interested party spends tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at one of Trump’s hotels, or golf resorts, or at Mar-a-Lago. That gets them in front of Trump — as he has spent nearly 400 days as president at those locations — and in his good graces, because he is exceptionally greedy. Then he is easily convinced to help them on some matter of policy.

Just 60 customers with interests at stake before the Trump administration brought his family business nearly $12 million during the first two years of his presidency, The Times found. Almost all saw their interests advanced, in some fashion, by Mr. Trump or his government. [New York Times]

AAR Corp., a government contractor fighting off a rival in court, held two retreats at the Trump National Doral resort,

Exclusive: White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday that it will seek to sell Taipei MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, sources familiar with the situation said.

The possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire as the United States prepares for its Nov. 3 election.

One of the eight sources said that in total the sales were valued at around $5 billion. Very often figures for U.S. foreign military sales include costs for training, spares and fees making the values difficult to pinpoint.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the U.S. export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the General Atomics-made MQ-9 drones is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing Co BA.N, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles. One of the sources said the approximately 100 cruise missiles that were notified to Capitol Hill would have a cost of about $2 billion.

Representatives for the U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Taiwan government source acknowledged that “Taiwan has five weapon systems that are moving through the process.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative

White House embraces a declaration from scientists that opposes lockdowns and relies on ‘herd immunity.’

The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing that authorities should allow the coronavirus to spread among young healthy people while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable — an approach that would rely on arriving at “herd immunity” through infections rather than a vaccine.

Many experts say “herd immunity” — the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it — is still very far-off. Leading experts have concluded, using different scientific methods, that about 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to the coronavirus.

On a call convened Monday by the White House, two senior administration officials, both speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to give their names, cited an October 4 petition titled The Great Barrington Declaration, which argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of businesses and schools.

“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration states, adding, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is 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.”

The declaration has more than 9,000 signatories from all over the world, its website says, though most of the names are not public. The document grew out of a meeting hosted by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian-leaning research organization.

Its lead authors include Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at Stanford University, the academic home of Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s science adviser. Dr. Atlas has also espoused herd immunity.

The declaration’s architects