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Stanford scientist: Lockdowns were 'harmful,' 'no good evidence' they stopped COVID - Jay Bhattacharya

Kitco News

(Kitco News) - Monkeypox is not a major concern, and COVID lockdowns were a mistake. That"s according to Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.

Bhattacharya spoke with David Lin, Anchor and Producer at Kitco News.


The recent monkeypox outbreak is not a major cause for concern, according to Bhattacharya. "COVID seems to spread by aerosol, it spreads very easily from person to person, and it"s very hard to just stop that spread of it," he explained. "Whereas monkeypox seems to require more… close physical contact, especially with people with symptoms of it… So because it doesn"t spread the same way, I"m not nearly worried about monkeypox spreading the same way as COVID. I suspect this… mini-epidemic will die out fairly quickly."

There are 257 reported cases of monkeypox across 23 countries, according to the World Health Organization. A U.S. monkeypox outbreak occurred in 2003, with 79 cases and zero deaths.

The Lockdown Mistake?

Bhattacharya is an epidemiologist and has weighed in on COVID-19. In 2020, he authored the Great Barrington Declaration, along with Professor Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Martin Kulldorff, who was then a professor at Harvard. The Declaration calls for focused protection of elderly and vulnerable populations, as opposed to lockdowns. To date, millions have signed it, including many physicians and health scientists.

"I think that probably the single worst [policy] was school closures," said Bhattacharya. "… Even short interruptions in schooling of children can result in long-term ripple outcomes in their lives."

In September of 2021, the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program showed that children are at low risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.

Bhattacharya went on to list the negative effects of lockdowns. "The economic effect of the lockdown policies that we followed, especially on poor countries, have been particularly devastating," he said. "Some estimates suggest that 100 million people worldwide were thrown into poverty, dire poverty, less than $2 per day of income or less."

According to Bhattacharya, there is no good evidence that lockdowns prevented the spread of COVID-19.

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"There was no good evidence that… [lockdowns] were capable of stopping the diseased from spreading," he said "The Great Barrington Declaration called for focused protection of the old."

He pointed to Florida and Sweden as case studies. "If you compare Florida and California, the age-adjusted death rate from COVID is very similar," said Bhattacharya. "California locked down, Florida didn"t lock down. Sweden did better than most countries, certainly better than the United States, despite not putting in place school closures and a whole host of lockdown-related policies."

Leaked Emails from the Government

A few days after the Great Barrington Declaration was released, then-director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, emailed Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Collins wrote that the Declaration was from ‘fringe epidemiologists," and that there needed to be a ‘quick and devastating… take down of its premises."

According to Bhattacharya, the Great Barrington Declaration was a threat to those who endorsed a lockdown strategy against COVID.

"The Great Barrington Declaration in effect was a challenge to that policy by people with credentials that they couldn"t just ignore," he said. "They wanted to create an illusion of scientific consensus around the lockdown policies… that didn"t actually exist. And that"s why Francis Collins wrote that email to Tony Fauci, because he wanted to use the media to take down… this alternate strategy, because it was so sensible to so many people. And… unfortunately it worked… Many people who signed the Great Barrington Declaration have lost their jobs, lost grant opportunities."

To find out Bhattacharya"s thoughts on the lab leak hypothesis, watch the above video.

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