Referred to by its authors as the John Snow Memorandum, the open letter, which will also be launched during the 16th World Congress on Public Health programme 2020, is signed by 80 worldwide researchers (as of publication) with expertise spanning public health, epidemiology, medicine, paediatrics, sociology, virology, infectious disease, health systems, psychology, psychiatry, health policy, and mathematical modelling.
The letter comes after numerous USA media this week reported that senior Trump administration officials had voiced support for an online declaration advocating herd immunity which gathered more than 9,000 signatories worldwide.
"Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal".
The scientists hold prestigious appointments at University of Oxford, Harvard University, and Stanford Medical School, but National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins has warned that their views are "fringe" and "dangerous".
Citing experts, the New York Times reported that herd immunity, which occurs when the disease stops spreading because it has been contracted by almost everyone in a population, is still far off into the future for COVID-19.
As supported by the results of the Edinburgh study, the Declaration's "Focused Protection" calls for allowing "those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk".
A day before the town of Great Barrington took pains to distance itself from the declaration, a coalition of 17 public health organizations also condemned the scientists' proposal in a joint statement.
The researchers thus conclude that "the somewhat counterintuitive results that school closures lead to more deaths are a outcome of the addition of some interventions that suppress the first wave and failure to prioritise protection of the most vulnerable people".
Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, denounced the declaration Wednesday, saying it was "released without data or evidence".
He said while a "certain core group of people" might be advocating for herd immunity, "talk at standard people" across the country with an understanding of infectious diseases and epidemiology would "vehemently disagree with the idea of letting everybody get infected and don't worry about it". We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity. and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. This is not true.
Herd immunity can't work for several reasons, Maldonado said.
"What we're talking about here is a disease in which you probably need to get somewhere in excess of 60% of people with permanent - not temporary - immunity", he said.
"Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak", he added. "This is simply not possible.Whenever we've seen cases of young people rise sharply, we then see cases among the over-60s rise inevitably thereafter".
In Great Barrington, town officials made clear that they remain on the side of public health officials, not that of the authors of the declaration.
According to the Times, leading experts have estimated that roughly 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to the coronavirus, meaning that the nation is far from achieving herd immunity. "Please wear a mask".