21 October 2020
What is Talking Point?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: Should the ideas set out in the Great Barrington Declaration have greater prominence in public debate? Or should we disregard the declaration and continue on our current trajectory?
Lockdown has been hard. I’ve followed the COVID guidelines because I know my 72-year-old immune system is not so effective. Some of my friends are terrified to go out at all. I have severely missed my grandchildren.
I understand the appeal of the Barrington Declaration for some. However, I (and the Green Party as a whole) reject it. It divides communities up into the well and the vulnerable, but we older people are not separate from the rest of society. Many of us live in multigenerational households. Lots of young people obey the COVID rules to protect their grandparents. It is not even straightforward to predict who is ‘vulnerable’, with young people being infected in increasing numbers and ‘long COVID’ striking indiscriminately.
The Barrington Declaration is not supported by the majority of scientists or doctors. 70 - 80% of the population must be immune for ‘herd immunity’ but so far only an estimated 8% of us have had COVID. After a low-level infection, the antibody response appears to be weak and short lived. An effective vaccine will take time and may not give total protection.
There was no lockdown in Sweden, resulting in high disease rates but reduced social and economic impacts. However, the Swedes largely followed government advice. In England, we have an expensive track and trace system that doesn’t work, while advice has been unclear and repeatedly ignored by high-profile public figures. No wonder we’re seeing rising non-compliance with rules.
The Barrington Declaration is scientifically and morally flawed. Let’s stop giving airtime to this toxic document and focus on what we need: a vaccine, a track and trace system that works and a government that inspires confidence. And, crucially, communities that support each other and don’t leave anyone – including the elderly and vulnerable – to face this alone.
Our response was written by Elizabeth May. Elizabeth is Co-Chair and Secretary of Cambridge Green Party, a former Biology & Environment Lecturer and University Environment Manager, and an active grandmother as much as the Covid rules allow!