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science-silencedWe remember four years ago like it was yesterday. We remember how the COVID curtain came down, how the lockdowns were ordered, how the masking and the mandates were enforced, how our speech was curtailed, how our liberties were usurped. We remember how the lab-leaked China virus took control of our lives. And we wonder: Did we really learn our lessons?

Oh, sure, there’s a general consensus that lockdowns are a bad idea and that vaccine mandates are unethical. But when the next pandemic comes around, will science once again give way to hysteria? Will Liberty take a backseat to tyranny?

One of the most important columns we’ve ever written, sadly, wasn’t among our most well-read pieces. It was published on October 8, 2020, and it covered Donald Trump’s brief battle with COVID. We remember the message he tweeted as he left Walter Reed Medical Center: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” He was onto something.


In that column, we also noted for the first time a brief treatise by three of the world’s leading epidemiologists: Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta, and Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya. It was called “The Great Barrington Declaration,” and it recommended — radically, simply, elegantly — that the vast majority of people be allowed to live their everyday lives while we protect only the most vulnerable from the coronavirus.

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists,” the three wrote, “we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.”

Just over a month later, on November 19, 2020, we covered the Great Barrington Declaration in greater detail in a piece titled “COVID: A Sensible Strategy.” The authors’ primary suggestion — protecting those most at risk, the elderly and the otherwise infirm, while the rest of us take on the bug, beat it, and proceed to herd immunity just as our species has always done – has, it’s safe to say, withstood the test of time.


In short, Kulldorff, Gupta, and Bhattacharya have been utterly vindicated, and their leading critics – among them National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins – have been rightly and utterly disgraced.

Kulldorff, though, isn’t satisfied. Nor should he be. In a piece published earlier this week in City Journal – a piece titled “Harvard Tramples the Truth,” Kulldorff, now a former Harvard biostatistician and infectious-disease epidemiologist, lets loose about Harvard’s utter failure to uphold its motto, Veritas, and about how the world “lost its way during the Covid pandemic.” He writes:

On March 10, 2020, before any government prompting, Harvard declared that it would “suspend in-person classes and shift to online learning.” Across the country, universities, schools, and state governments followed Harvard’s lead.

Yet it was clear, from early 2020, that the virus would eventually spread across the globe, and that it would be futile to try to suppress it with lockdowns. It was also clear that lockdowns would inflict enormous collateral damage, not only on education but also on public health, including treatment for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental health. We will be dealing with the harm done for decades. Our children, the elderly, the middle class, the working class, and the poor around the world – all will suffer.


science-cant-surviveKulldorff, himself a Swede, goes on to note how his native land stood alone as the only major Western country to reject school closures and other lockdowns, writing, “The final verdict is now in. Led by an intelligent social democrat prime minister (a welder), Sweden had the lowest excess mortality among major European countries during the pandemic, and less than half that of the United States. Sweden’s Covid deaths were below average, and it avoided collateral mortality caused by lockdowns.”

Kulldorff recounts the brave and lonely battle being waged at the time by others, including Stanford professor and Trump White House health advisor Scott Atlas, who for his trouble was roundly assailed by 98 of his Stanford faculty colleagues “in an open letter that did not provide a single example of where he was wrong.” (Kulldorff publicly challenged any and all of the 98 to a debate, but none of them had the guts to do so.) As we noted at the time, Atlas was censored by Big Tech, but he ultimately set the record straight a year later.

Fauci, of course, is the leading and lasting villain in all this, and we’ve made this clear again and again and again. But Francis Collins shouldn’t escape permanent censure either. As Kulldorff notes: “Collins, a lab scientist with limited public-health experience who controls most of the nation’s medical research budget, called [the three of us] ‘fringe epidemiologists’ and asked his colleagues to orchestrate a ‘devastating published takedown'” of the Great Barrington Declaration.

As it turns out, Collins had the power of the state on his side, and the First Amendment became the first casualty: “At the behest of the U.S. government,” Kulldorff writes, “Twitter censored my tweet for contravening CDC policy. Having also been censored by LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, I could not freely communicate as a scientist. Who decided that American free-speech rights did not apply to honest scientific comments at odds with those of the CDC director?”

It’s a great question.


One of the essential debates that was denied to our citizenry during this time of hysteria and Big Brotherly groupthink was about vaccination – and, more specifically, about our nation’s vile fetish for mandates. “Bodily autonomy,” Kulldorff writes, “is not the only argument against Covid vaccine mandates. They are also unscientific and unethical.”

The issue of vaccines isn’t going away, either. Indeed, it’s likely to become a campaign issue in the upcoming election, especially if Donald Trump continues to remind us during his stump speeches of the effectiveness of Operation Warp Speed, which brought novel mRNA vaccines to the market in astonishingly short order. There were certainly life-saving benefits to having ready access to these vaccines, but there remain very serious questions about their safety and effectiveness — questions that can’t reasonably be separated out from Operation Warp Speed.

To Trump’s credit, though, he never mandated vaccination. Unlike Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, Trump never encroached on our fundamental freedom, on our bodily autonomy.

There are also sure to be campaign questions about who locked down what, when, and where. And one needn’t be a Trump-hating hysteric like National Review’s Noah Rothman to note that there’s some historical revisionism going on. Nor is there any shame in Trump taking the position that he did the best he could with the limited information that was available – and given the misguided counsel and the grievously anti-scientific policies of power-hungry public-health dolts like Anthony Fauci, Francis Collins, and Deborah Birx.


What’s needed here, though, is precisely what’s needed everywhere else:  free speech and freedom of inquiry.

As Kulldorff concludes: “Science cannot survive in a society that does not value truth and strive to discover it. The scientific community will gradually lose public support and slowly disintegrate in such a culture. The pursuit of truth requires academic freedom with open, passionate, and civilized scientific discourse, with zero tolerance for slander, bullying, or cancellation.”


Douglas Andrews is a writer and analyst for The Patriot Post.