“We’ve got to follow the science,” we’re repeatedly told during the COVID-19 pandemic, usually by people arguing for the strict measures included in the broad category of “lockdowns.” But what happens when scientists disagree with one another and don’t adhere to one true faith in their recommendations for battling viral infection?
While there has been disagreement among scientists since COVID-19 appeared on the scene, opponents of the most restrictive measures have largely been sidelined. But now, insisting that “science” speaks with one voice is much harder, with a World Health Organization (WHO) official and the Great Barrington Declaration objecting to the pain inflicted by lockdowns and calling for less-draconian public health policies.
“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” David Nabarro, WHO special envoy for Covid-19, told Britain’s Spectator magazine last week. “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
He pointed to the devastating worldwide elevation in rates of poverty and hunger as a result of restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic, saying that “lockdowns just have one consequence that we must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.”