A podcast is published once a week with the virologist Christian Drosten, who is very well known in Germany. This time he took the scientists of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration to his chest. According to the virologist, the renowned colleagues are “pseudo-experts”.
The Federal Government and a large part of the population consider him to be the expert in matters of COVID-19: The head of the Institute for Virology at the Berlin Charité, Prof. Dr. med. Christian Drosten. Once a week he lets interested parties participate – in his omissions and assessments of the declared COVID-19 pandemic.
In episode 82 (“The situation is serious”) the virologist also devotes himself to the topic of “science denial” and cites “climate research deniers” as an example. Drosten explains:
“That is this PLURV principle that we should perhaps discuss here on the basis of public arguments.”
The abbreviation PLURV stands for “pseudo-experts, logic errors, unrealizable expectations, cherry-picking and conspiracy myths”. The English-language original is called FLICC (Fake Experts, Logical Fallacies, Impossible Expectations, Cherry Picking and Conspiracy Myth).
Ever since Drosten began using this sonorous abbreviation, it has had a great echo in so-called social media. In the Drosten podcast, the NDR science editor Beke Schulmann picks up the ball and wants to go through “the most common methods of disinformation” with the virologist.
What then follows is currently causing some waves on the short message service Twitter, because Drosten recognizes “in retrospect on the presentation of the pandemic in the media all these principles (PLURV) again”. According to Drosten, there are experts who like to bask in the light of the TV headlights. Although these had professorships or doctorates, “but in a different subject”. Often it is also about “people who have long been retired”.
In doing so, Drosten is by no means referring to suspected “Corona experts” who have been omnipresent in political talk shows for a year, but rather to the doctor Wolfgang Wodarg, who is branded in the current scientific discourse as a suspected quack and therefore hardly present in the media. Drosten calls this “quite deliberately (…) as a prime example”.
“There are many others who are not so striking in their appearance.”
Then the big all-round blow begins. Drosten turns against a group which, according to the virologist, who is very present on radio and television in this country, are merely “apparent experts”:
“I’m just saying the Great Barrington Declaration: This is a whole group of pseudo-experts. All of them are not from the field, but have spoken out loud about infection-epidemiological topics in the form of written statements.”
The Great Barrington Declaration , to which Drosten refers, was formulated in October by three renowned scientists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford Universities. The statement reads:
“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have serious concerns about the harmful effects of prevailing COVID-19 measures on physical and mental health and recommend what we call Focused Protection.”
The experts are convinced that the current lockdown policy has “devastating effects on public health in the short and long term”. The consequences therefore included a lower vaccination rate in children, worse progression in cardiovascular diseases, fewer cancer screening examinations and a deterioration in mental health. All of this will inevitably “lead to increased excess mortality in the coming years”.
A number of other researchers and doctors have since joined the trio’s views.
The scientists named by Drosten as “pseudo-experts” are specifically Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Dr. Sunetra Gupta and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.
The Swedish “pseudo-expert” Kulldorff is a professor of medicine and both biostatistician and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His expertise includes identifying and monitoring infectious diseases and evaluating the safety of vaccines. 159 scientific papers were (co-) authored by the supposed PLURV expert.
After Twitter users and colleagues judged Drosten’s statements as derailments, Kulldorff spoke on the short message service himself on Wednesday.
“As an infection epidemiologist, I would appreciate a public scientific discourse with @c_drosten. Debate is better than slander.”
The “pseudo-expert” No. 2, Sunetra Gupta , is a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the Faculty of Zoology at Oxford University, who was born in Calcutta, India in 1965. She also serves as an advisory board for Princeton University Press in Europe. Her particular scientific interest is the transmission of diseases to humans in malaria, AIDS, influenza and bacterial meningitis. In 2005 Gupta received the Rosalind Franklin Award from the Royal Society on the subject of ” Surviving Pandemics: A Pathogen’s Perspective “.
Jay Bhattacharya , who was also born in Calcutta, India and is the third among Drosten’s “pseudo-experts”, is a professor of medicine at Stanford University and a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Bhattacharya heads the Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging at Stanford University. His research focuses on the health and wellbeing of populations, with a particular focus on the role of government programs, biomedical innovations, and the economy.
The Great Barrington Declaration is not undisputed among experts. For example, it is offended that the declaration (signed by hundreds of thousands of citizens, including tens of thousands of doctors and medical professionals) at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) saw the light of day. The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote:
“One of its sponsors is the US oil billionaire Charles Koch, a notorious denier of climate change. His foundation has already donated at least a five-figure sum. The institute also benefits from its own investments in oil and tobacco companies, among others.”
“It is with concern that we note that the voices are growing again who are using natural contamination of large sections of the population with the aim of herd immunity as a strategy for combating pandemics.”
The associated strategy of focusing on protective measures for particularly vulnerable groups is “decidedly rejected”.
In view of the so-called “third wave”, Drosten was recently quoted as saying that “there will be no getting around a serious lockdown”.