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Letters to the Editor: How seriously should we take the Great Barrington Declaration?

South Korean students in masks work at their desks.
Students prepare for the first day of class after a COVID-19 closure in Daegu, South Korea, on May 20.
(Woohae Cho)

To the editor: I typically agree with your editorials, so I was shocked by your characterization of the Great Barrington Declaration as a “hoax.” I have read this document, which advocates a “herd immunity” approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I watched a lengthy interview with the three authors, all experts in their fields, and found both them and the document to be very rational.

The Great Barrington Declaration should be characterized as an alternative point of view on how the pandemic should be managed, not a hoax, which unfairly denigrates the experts who authored it. What the authors are proposing, which is similar to what Sweden has done, is not preposterous.

I hope that an ongoing open discussion on this extremely important topic can take place, as opposed to stifling or rejecting out of hand the ideas presented in the document.

Gertrude Barden, Porter Ranch

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To the editor: We need to remember that President Trump’s concept of building up herd immunity without a vaccine has been tested in the past.

When I was young, vaccination against polio disrupted the wonderful herd immunity that had been working so well up to that point. Franklin D. Roosevelt would back me up on this one.

I enjoyed vaccine-free immunity to the measles as a youth, but my children missed out because the MMR vaccine was developed and put to use.

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Christopher Columbus unwittingly conducted a fine experiment in herd immunity with the native people he first encountered in 1492. The smallpox, measles and other viruses he brought were novel to the indigenous populations, killing 90% of them within a few years.

Speaking of smallpox, it just went away like a miracle, as viruses do — didn’t it?

In all seriousness, the whole point of public health is to keep the public from getting sick. Throwing up your hands because things aren’t always easy is not a reasonable policy, it’s mass homicide.

Kevin Wilby, La Crescenta

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To the editor: So, building up herd immunity without a vaccine is the new plan favored by Trump. That’s basically the same plan the medieval world used to fight the plague.

Margaret McCown Liles, Escondido


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