Should the COVID-19 lockdowns be replaced with a more targeted strategy?
On October 4, 2020, epidemiologists from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford authored the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocates for ending the COVID-19 lockdowns and turning to a strategy of protecting elderly and vulnerable populations, while allowing everyone else to resume their normal lives.
Critics of the Declaration issued a counter-petition, called the "John Snow Memorandum," stating, "Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed. Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population."
In an online Soho Forum debate on December 13, Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard biostatistician and epidemiologist and coauthor of the Great Barrington Declaration, debated Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of population health and disease prevention at the University of California, Irvine, who signed the John Snow Memorandum.
It was an Oxford-style debate, and in this case, the contest ended in a tie: Both debaters convinced 5.56 percent of audience members to switch to their side over the course of the debate.
The Soho Forum, sponsored by Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series typically held at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village, but which has gone remote during the pandemic.
Narrated by Nick Gillespie; audio production by Regan Taylor
Photo: Steve Sanchez/Sipa USA/Newscom