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A Viral Theory Cited by Health Officials Draws Fire From Scientists

  • October 20, 2020

Among scientists, too, there is near-universal agreement that lockdowns are harmful. Even Dr. Fauci has suggested that another national lockdown must be instituted only as a last resort.

But mostly, scientific disagreement centers on whether lockdowns are a necessary move when other strategies to contain the virus have not even been put in place, or have failed.

“This has been wrongly framed as a debate between lockdown and no lockdown,” said Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London.

Dr. David Nabarro, a special envoy to the World Health Organization, has urged governments not to resort to lockdowns as the primary method to control the virus. Masks, social distancing, fewer crowds, testing and tracing — these are the ways to control the virus in the long run, he said in an interview.

But the lockdowns in the spring were necessary, he added, as emergency measures to give countries time to put in place strategies to control the virus.

“There is a middle way,” Dr. Nabarro added, between strict lockdowns and letting the virus freely infect people. “If only we had a few more world leaders who would understand this, we wouldn’t have this debate going on.”

But Dr. Bhattacharya and his supporters go further. They say that governments should never have imposed lockdowns at all, and never should have tried to institute coronavirus testing and contact-tracing. Instead, the trillions of dollars in economic aid approved by Congress should have been spent on programs to protect those at highest risk of illness and death.

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