Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

People were out shopping on Newbury Street in Boston on Sept. 24, 2020. (Photo: Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Public Health Experts Raise Alarm as Trump White House Embraces 'Fringe' Declaration Pushing Herd Immunity

"It's being presented as if it's a major alternative view that's held by large numbers of experts in the scientific community. That is not true."

Julia Conley

Public health experts on Tuesday evening into Wednesday raised alarm over reports that the White House has embraced a declaration calling for a "herd immunity" approach to managing the coronavirus pandemic, put forward by scientists whose views have been denounced as "fringe" by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.

"This is a fringe component of epidemiology. This is not mainstream science. It's dangerous. It fits into the political views of certain parts of our confused political establishment."
—Dr. Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health

Reporters spoke on Monday with an anonymous senior administration official about the "Great Barrington Declaration," a document unveiled on Oct. 4 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts at the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank.

The declaration promotes a strategy called "Focused Protection"—what one professor at the University of New South Wales called a rebranding of "herd immunity," in which Covid-19 would be permitted to spread through the young and relatively healthy population while the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions would follow public health guidance to prevent them from contracting the disease. The document calls for a return to schools, workplaces, and normal pre-pandemic routines as a means of allowing the virus to spread at "natural" rates. 

Three epidemiologists in particular—Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, Sunetra Gupta of University of Oxford, and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford Medical School—were signatories of the document and have been mentioned by name in recent press briefings by Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and senior fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institution who has become one of President Donald Trump's top coronavirus advisers in recent months despite his lack of public health expertise.

The scientists met with Atlas and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar last week, according to the Washington Post. 

The senior administration official told the Post that the Great Barrington Declaration—which proponents claim has been signed by thousands of doctors and scientists but whose signatories include "transparently fake" names including "Dr. Johnny Bananas" and "Dr. Person Fakename," according to Sky News—simply promotes the approach pushed by Trump for months. 

The president began harshly criticizing lockdown measures almost as soon as they began in March and has pushed for a full reopening of schools and businesses while he and other Republicans have scoffed at the notion of providing robust, long-term economic aid to people and small businesses as other wealthy countries did months ago. 

By forcing much of the population to return to their normal routines amid the pandemic, adherence to the Great Barrington Declaration would keep the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate from having to consider how to provide aid to businesses that are forced to close and people who have to stay at home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. 

Rather than ignoring public health guidance, tweeted Yale epidemiologist and public health activist Gregg Gonsalves, the federal government must focus on making it economically viable for families and small businesses to keep their communities safe. 

The declaration does not include any mention of members of the public wearing face coverings or adhering to social distancing guidelines, nor does it outline how specifically society would segregate elderly and medically vulnerable people from young and relatively healthy people who are urged to go about their regular routines. 

Collins told the Post that the document will likely be embraced as "an idea that someone can wrap themselves in as a justification for skipping wearing masks or social distancing and just doing whatever they damn well please."

"What I worry about with this is it's being presented as if it's a major alternative view that's held by large numbers of experts in the scientific community. That is not true," Collins told the Post. "This is a fringe component of epidemiology. This is not mainstream science. It's dangerous. It fits into the political views of certain parts of our confused political establishment."

Other public health experts on social media, both in the United Kingdom and the U.S., expressed alarm over the White House's decision to embrace the proposal. 

Gonsalves called into question the primary idea being put forth by the Great Barrington Declaration—that public health experts are calling for a "full-scale" lockdown in which people would be unable to leave their homes for long periods of time.

"We need a vaccine to get to herd immunity without putting millions of lives in jeopardy," Gonsalves tweeted. "Full stop. Stop the bullshit."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·


After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo