Re-Open Cal Now, Day 2: Drs. Jay Bhattacharya, Joe Ladapo, and George Fareed—Moral and Scientific Responses For Pandemic Management

The third panel, Are the Lockdowns Moving Cases Forward? Science and Treatments, was helmed by Dr. Jayanta (Jay) Bhattacharya, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, and Dr. George Fareed, whom I had the opportunity to interview.

Dr. Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He is a Professor of Economics and Health Research and Policy, and focuses on the researching the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. As Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt pointed out, someone with both an M.D. and Ph.D in economics “can relate to not only the damage to our health, but the damage to the health of our economy.”

Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo is also an M.D. and a Ph.D. As a clinician and a health policy researcher, his interest is in assessing the cost-effectiveness of diagnostic technologies and reducing the population burden of cardiovascular disease. He is Associate Professor-in-Residence at the UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and cares for hospitalized patients. Previously, he served as a faculty member in the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine and as a Staff Fellow at the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. George Fareed practices in the Imperial Valley of California, and has been on the frontlines of COVID-19, treating COVID patients in the flu stage as outpatients, as hospitalized in-patients, and in the ICU.

Dr. Fareed’s background is in virology, with over 30 years of experience treating HIV and other infectious diseases. Dr. Fareed worked at the NIH, and his contemporary was none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fareed also practices primary care medicine. In November, Dr. Fareed testified before Senator Ron Johnson’s committee advocating for the early treatment of COVID-19.

None of these medical doctors are lightweights, nor are they quacks. They are Physician’s physicians, with actual clinical experience, and their studies and findings have been widely published. Sadly, those with an agenda have been committed to demonizing the work they have done in the midst of this pandemic, and have sought to suppress their voices on how this pandemic could have been managed in order to save lives, rather than manage cases, deaths, and doling out of the vaccines, instead of a focused delivery to the most vulnerable.

The panel began with Dr. Bhattacharya explaining how the Great Barrington Declaration came about.

As the site states,

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists 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.”

The Declaration has been signed by hundreds of doctors internationally, and is a radically different policy for controlling COVID, while still addressing the harm of the lockdowns.

Dr. Bhattacharya said that,

“Everything that I’m going to be telling you is from the peer-reviewed literature. So it’s actual science, but very often people have not heard very much about it.”

He led with the fact that COVID, “is much more common than what we realized in the beginning, and much less deadly than we realized[…]

“For people over 70, it’s more deadly than the flu. Ninety-five percent of people over 70 survive. If you’re under 70, the survival rate is 99.9 percent.”

Dr. Bhattacharya repeated this, I believe for it to sink in. The conventional wisdom of the way COVID has been managed focuses on numbers of cases and numbers of deaths, but talks little, if at all, about survivability.

“Age is the number one risk factor of a bad outcome from COVID,” He said. “Eighty percent of people who have died from COVID, or assigned COVID at the time of death, are over the age 65. Eighty percent.”

Dr. Bhattacharya went on to say that,

“fewer kids have died in 2020 from COVID than died from the flu in the previous season—by a long shot, actually. For kids, this is not a particularly deadly disease.”

He then issued this sobering pronouncement:

“The lockdowns are deadlier than COVID.”

We have stolen life years from our children because of the lockdowns:

“If you miss school, it’s not just that you’ve missed that education, it actually has lifelong consequences. Lifelong consequences. People who miss school a short period of time, end up poorer, less healthy, and less long-lived,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.

“Just by closing our schools for those 3 months, we have robbed our children of 5 1/2 million life years in expectation.”

Dr. Bhattacharya continued,

“We closed our hospitals to patients other than COVID through the Spring and the Summer with the idea that the hospitals are going to be overrun. Many patients who had heart attacks didn’t get care. People skipped screenings for cancer: There’s going to be a spike in late-stage breast cancer patients, women with breast cancer, this year, who didn’t get screened.”

While the harm of the lockdowns in the United States are pronounced, Dr. Bhattacharya laid out how the harm from COVID internationally is even worse.

“It doesn’t fall randomly, it falls hardest on the poorest. That’s actually true in the U.S. as well, by the way.”

From the studies Dr. Bhattacharya reviewed, we discovered that,

“130 million people will suffer economically from the harm of the lockdowns.”

“The lockdowns are a luxury of the rich, and have harmed the poor in every single country on the face of the earth.” “Every single poor person, every single poor nation has been devastated by the consequences of this lockdown. It’s only the rich they seek to protect.”

Dr. Bhattacharya’s asked this question: What is the right, compassionate, sensible, and moral policy?

He then addressed how both the virus and our return to society could be facilitated:

  • Protect the vulnerable: Let’s protect our older populations. Let’s not send COVID infection into the nursing homes as Governors Cuomo, Whitmer, Wolf, and Newsom have done. Dr. Bhattacharya stated that 40 percent of COVID deaths happened in nursing homes.
  • For Multi-generational households, find alternate living arrangements to protect their vulnerable elders.
  • Use disability accommodation laws for those who are at high risk, either because of age, or comorbidities.
  • Lockdowns have been psychologically and economically damaging on the young, who are the least vulnerable. Allow them to get back to life.
  • Open society. Take precautions as necessary. Use every resource to protect the most vulnerable, and this is where vaccine management can come into play.

Dr. Bhattacharya’s concluded with,

“We need to be clever about this, and we could be clever, we could be creative. But instead what has happened is that we’ve just adopted the lockdowns. Which has caused enormous collateral harm.”

“In California to date only 2 percent of the vaccine doses have gone to people over the age of 70, which is a huge mistake.”

“Let us resume normal life. Let us get back to what we know produces health. Let’s open our schools, let’s open our churches, let’s open our businesses. I’m not saying don’t take precautions, but we have to take account of the harms we are doing to society through the lockdowns.”

“Open society again.”

Dr. Ladapo focused on the lack of treatment given to COVID in the early stages:

“This is old knowledge, why does it take so long for colleagues, who are part of the scientific community, to be sensible about science?”

“Early treatment, it’s a really basic and simple idea. It shows the difference between someone doing well with COVID and someone not.”

Dr. Fareed echoed Dr. Ladapo’s assessments:

“Early treatment is so critical. You knock that virus out. You prevent that virus from damaging the immune system.

“I’ve seen the whole progression of COVID-19, from the bad flu. I appreciated Assemblyman [James] Gallagher’s comments about science and the evolution of science.

“Bring patients in in an orderly way, screen them, and treat them quickly. We did that from March until today, and we continue on, and we’ve improved what we’re doing.”

Then Dr. Fareed talked once again about the “Circle of Empathy”:

“There’s a circle of empathy. People like me and others are in that circle of empathy. There are others who are outside of the circle of empathy. They are throwing stones, and writing policies.”

Supervisor Hewitt asked the panel,

What is the one thing that has bothered each of the three of you the most about this pandemic and its response? If you could change it with a magic wand what would it be?

Dr. Ladapo responded,

“It would be fear fueled decision making. The scientific community’s use of shame as a tool. This channel of shame is basically the most effective tool that these leaders who have no love for humanity can use.”

Dr. Fareed agreed and added the suppression of early treatment protocols, and the demonization of hydroxychloroquine.

“It’s scientifically justified, and it never should have been stigmatized,” Dr. Fareed said.

Dr. Bhattacharya did not have one thing, but his was the most telling, and what everyone who wants sound scientific and moral responses has dealt with.

“The absolute blindness and callousness of our elected officials to the harms of the lockdowns. The divisions it has created between parents and children, between the rich and the poor. The lockdowns have devastated our social trust, they have harmed our health and they have impoverished us.”

To view this panel and the entirety of the Day 2 panel’s, visit the Re-Open Cal Now Facebook Live feed.