Stanford University professor of medicine, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, continued his stand against the measures implemented to stem the rising numbers of COVID-19 infections. His escalation of criticism on Thursday targeted California’s lockdowns, calling Gov. Gavin Newsom’s restrictions a failure.
The recent lockdown orders come as California is emerging as the latest epicenter of the U.S. outbreak that already has claimed more than 300,000 lives.
Bhattacharya, who in October promoted the “herd immunity” method that proved a failure in Sweden, is one of the few health experts to speak out against lockdowns.
His paper, co-written with Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard, and Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, said, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity is to allow 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.”
Again on Thursday, he said the focus should be on the most vulnerable. “The right approach, before the vaccine, is to work to protect the elderly,” Bhattacharya remarked. “Whereas these broad lockdowns, I think they cause a lot of harm to the non-elderly. They’re not doing very much to slow the spread of the disease.”
He added: “I think the lockdowns are a failure of imagination and creativity in policy. It’s a failure to follow what the science is actually saying about who is most vulnerable.”
Dr. Rupert Beale of the Cell Biology of Infection Laboratory, Francis Crick Institute, in a letter responding to Bhattacharya’s statement, said the herd immunity idea is not the prevailing solution. “This is wishful thinking,” he wrote. “It is not possible to fully identify vulnerable individuals, and it is not possible to fully isolate them.”