🚩Short version: A group of well-known scientists (y’all, kind-of like the science-all-stars) wrote a data-driven response to the Great Barrington Declaration’s (GBD) herd immunity-approach in the Lancet (premier science journal). They named it the John Snow Memorandum. No, not that John (Jon) Snow from Game of Thrones. 😊 The original John Snow. ba-dum-ch. (If any of my students are reading this, they are probably laughing at that joke.)
👩🏫 Quick epid-history-lesson: The original John Snow is the Founder-of-Modern-Epidemiology. He famously ripped a water pump handle off during the big London cholera outbreak in 1854. (Fun fact – he ripped it off because the common theory of the day was the thought that cholera was spread through “bad air”. So, he did an awesome epid-experiment through lots of data collecting and contact tracing and debunked the “bad air” theory – he found it was spread through water! Then he ripped the water pump handle off, which was the source of the outbreak, like.a.boss…ok, well that’s what I imagine he did. Still like.a.boss though – because he was right. And, the outbreak ended. He followed the data.) 👩🏫
Ok, I digress. 𝐖𝐇𝐘 𝐃𝐎𝐄𝐒 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐒 𝐌𝐀𝐓𝐓𝐄𝐑? 😊
A few days ago we talked about the GBD – I did Part 1 and Part 2 if you want to go back and read those. In response to the GBD, the science-all-stars wrote a letter – the “John Snow Memorandum”. Ok, for the science nerd, that makes me happy.
𝐁𝐮𝐭, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝. 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬:
1. It was published in the Lancet – a premier, rigorously peer-reviewed, top-notch scientific journal. It’s one of the top, if not the top journal in science.
2. Many of the authors are very notable to the world of infectious diseases. Dr. Marc Lipsitch, Dr. Ilona Kickbusch , Dr. Angela L. Rasmussen, Dr. Gavin Yamey (a real-life-friend) are just some of the people who signed it. Go google them to see what I mean. #fangirl The point is they are well known and well respected to many in the infectious disease/epid/public health/medicine world with track records without side hustles. Just good science.
3. They discuss the issues with herd immunity proposed in the GBD and, more importantly, offer an alternative. Here’s a snippet of it: “𝐎𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧, 𝐰𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐩𝐢𝐝𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃-𝟏𝟗…𝐄𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐥𝐲…𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒕 𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒎. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐒𝐀𝐑𝐒-𝐂𝐨𝐕-𝟐 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐥𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐬… 𝒔𝒐 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝒏𝒆𝒂𝒓 𝒏𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒍 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐝 [𝐰𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝] 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬.”
4. They also point to countries with robust public health responses that have worked: “𝐉𝐚𝐩𝐚𝐧, 𝐕𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐧𝐚𝐦, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐍𝐞𝐰 𝐙𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝, 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬, 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐫-𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐥. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫: 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃-𝟏𝟗 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐥 𝐬𝐚𝐟𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬.”
5. Then they ended with: “𝐖𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞; 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐮𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞.” I think John Snow would be proud. Maybe this is the 2020 pump handle?
The point is not to win an academic fight between two groups. The point is to let the data speak and respond responsibly. If you want to see the data this group points to, look in the source below. I would encourage you to go read the full Lancet article and memorandum. The group is not calling for full lockdowns – quite the opposite. They are asking for evidence-based, public-health approaches to avoid lockdowns and get to normalcy. Near normalcy really is possible. This won’t be forever, friends.
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
Sources: Here’s the full Lancet article with data sources at the end: https://www.thelancet.com/lancet/article/s0140-6736(20)32153-x
Here’s the John Snow Memorandum with the full write-up and to see the full list of signatories: https://www.johnsnowmemo.com Photo sources: Wikipedia and compiled by yours truly