In a previous article, I discussed Dr. Jay Bhattacharya’s preternatural ability to redefine words to suit his convenience. When something he says ages poorly, as has happened throughout the pandemic, Dr. Bhattacharya simply claims words don’t mean exactly what they mean. For example, at the start of the pandemic, Dr. Bhattacharya wrote an article titled Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say? in which he claimed “projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.” He further said:
If it’s true that the novel coronavirus would kill millions without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines, then the extraordinary measures being carried out in cities and states around the country are surely justified.
When he was later faced with his eminently reasonable support of “shelter-in-place orders and quarantines” for a virus that could kill millions, Dr. Bhattacharya then claimed that,
But the extraordinary measures I advocated was not lockdown, but rather a rapid seroprevalence study and a focused protection approach.
So according to Dr. Bhattacharya, “shelter-in-place orders and quarantines” really mean a “rapid seroprevalence study and a focused protection approach.” I’ll come back to that “protection approach”.
A recent article in Vanity Fair titled Inside Ron DeSantis’s Plan to Ride Anti-vaxxism to the White House recently gave Dr. Bhattacharya an opportunity to practice more verbicide. The article, in which I am quoted (and my upcoming book We Want Them Infected mentioned), discussed Dr. Bhattacharya and said:
Immediately controversial, the let ’er rip strategy, as critics called it, came to the attention of President Trump via a radiologist named Scott Atlas, whom Trump had seen on Fox News and recruited as an adviser. Atlas, in turn, invited Bhattacharya and Ladapo, who was not yet Florida surgeon general, to meet Trump in the Oval Office. A Trump appointee within the Department of Health and Human Services famously characterized a herd immunity approach in an email to colleagues, writing of the healthy, “We want them infected.”
Dr. Bhattacharya was not pleased to be linked to those four words- we want them infected- and responded by saying:
Well, let’s revisit the document that made Dr. Bhattacharya famous, the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD). It said:
The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.
I don’t know about you, but asking “those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection” sure seems like he wanted them infected. In case there’s any doubt, Dr. Bhattacharya doubled down in an article titled The Ill-Advised Push to Vaccinate the Young in which he absurdly argued that young people should remain unvaccinated because older people have more risk. “While anyone can get infected, the old have a thousand-fold higher mortality risk than the young,” he said. He continued,
The idea that everyone must be vaccinated against COVID-19 is as misguided as the anti-vax idea that no one should. The former is more dangerous for public health.
Indeed, the entire premise of the GBD was that unvaccinated young people would contract COVID and build-up a wall of herd immunity that would protect vulnerable people, all in just 3-6 months!
Though the GBD discouraged people from actively seeking out the virus, they felt not vulnerable people had a moral duty to live normally, ensuring they would inevitably and rapidly contract COVID. Other authors of the GBD were very open about all this. In July 2020, Dr. Sunetra Gupta said “We have to share the guilt. We have to share the responsibility. And we have to take on board certain risks ourselves in order to fulfill our obligations and to uphold the social contract.”
Dr. Martin Kulldorff said young people should think of themselves as soldiers, writing in August 2020:
Is it age discrimination when young people take the small risks needed to protect the older more vulnerable members of society? Yes, for sure, but prior generations took much larger risks. As a society we should appreciate young adults who help generate herd immunity by living normal lives and keeping society afloat. Thank you, thank you, thank you. When people throw misguided complaints at you, falsely claiming that you are endangering others, remember that the opposite is true. Also, think of your grandfather. While risking his life fighting in World War II, he had much worse things thrown at him…That weakness is the near inability of the virus to kill younger people. Hence, it is the young adults among us that must stand in the front line as we fight this enemy. If not, we will have many more casualties than necessary…
Covid-19 is a formidable enemy, and in any war, one must take advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses. That weakness is the near inability of the virus to kill younger people. Hence, it is the young adults among us that must stand in the front line as we fight this enemy.
According to the authors of the GBD, it wasn’t just acceptable for young, unvaccinated people to risk suffering and death to protect their grandparents, it was their moral obligation. They were soldiers on a mission to spread SARS-CoV-2 – a sort of Team COVID Army – and their duty required them to forgo vaccination for the sake of “natural immunity.” Young, healthy people who stayed home weren’t just selfish. They were to blame for prolonging the pandemic and causing “many more casualties than necessary.”
Yet today, Dr. Bhattacharya absurdly insists there is a marked difference between someone who “wants them infected” and someone who wants “those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection”?
Of course, there is no difference.
This is why Dr. Bhattacharya only complained about measures to control the virus. He never protested that inadequate measures were taken to control it, especially for young people. While he now denies he “wanted them infected”, he certainly didn’t want them protected, which is functionally no different than “wanting them infected”. It’s like telling a fertile young couple to have unprotected sex daily, but then furiously denying that you intended for anyone to get pregnant.
Even though he instructed others to “resume life as normal“, Dr. Bhattacharya wisely managed to avoid the virus until August 2021, after he had been vaccinated. During this time, he was working hard to make sure that others contracted COVID before they were vaccinated. Dr. Bhattacharya, who didn’t care for any COVID patients himself, worked tirelessly to ensure that young people gained immunity to the virus through natural infection rather than vaccination. Indeed, many young people heeded his advice to skip the vaccine in favor immunity to the virus through natural infection, some regretting their decision with their last breath.
Today, Dr. Bhattacharya should bask in his success rather than gaslight us further by pretending words don’t mean exactly what they mean. Of course, getting immunity to the virus through natural infection is getting infected. It’s amazing that Dr. Bhattacharya would try to convince us otherwise. Sadly, his success in getting people to listen to him is evidence of another pandemic casualty, the quaint notion that words have meanings.