The man almost single handedly responsible for the failed COVID policies of the past two-plus years has announced that he will be retiring soon. For many of us, that day cannot come soon enough.
During the first year of the pandemic, Anthony Fauci MD was a study in confusion. He expressed wildly conflicting opinions about how lethal and contagious the coronavirus was depending on who he was talking to.
In private he questioned whether it could be spread asymptomatically, whether wearing masks could help contain it, and whether it was possible to be re-infected.
In public he warned us that we were facing a viral apocalypse, touting a pandemic model from the Imperial College in London that predicted millions upon millions of US deaths.
It turned out that the model was algorithmic garbage, but that didn’t stop America’s most famous virologist from recommending — in mid-March 2020 — that the economy of the entire country be shut down indefinitely, 40 million people be put out of work, tens of millions of children be denied an education, and millions of “nonessential” small businesses be shuttered, many never to reopen.
Under Fauci’s influence, the US Coronavirus Task Force then proceeded to commit every epidemiological sin in the book. Among his mistakes were:
Contact tracing: At the outset of the US outbreak, Fauci insisted on contact tracing. An enormous amount of valuable time and resources was wasted trying to track down every last person who might have come into contact with every person who might have had COVID — because Fauci insisted on it. He actually made Zoom calls to groups of hundreds of “contact tracers” to give them pep talks.
For sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea, tracing and treating contacts is very effective in disease prevention. For a highly infectious airborne viral infection, however, it was a criminal misuse of public health resources that did nothing to stop the spread of the disease.
That’s why we’ve never tried to prevent the spread of commonly circulating influenzas using contact tracing, even though they kill an average of twenty thousand Americans each year.
Failing to protect the vulnerable: As the coronavirus produced a cascade of corpses in geriatric Italy, but merely gave the young the sniffles, it was already clear by early March 2020, what demographic was at high risk.
The vulnerability of the elderly was shockingly confirmed in the following weeks by the speed at which the virus decimated the population of long-term-care centers in New York City and New Jersey — its spread accelerated by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s insane policy of confining the sick with the healthy.
At the same time, evidence clearly showed that the mortality risk was dramatically lower in younger age cohorts, and that for the very young the risk approximated zero. As pointed out by the Great Barrington Declaration, signed by dozens of disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, “for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.”
From the beginning, public health professionals such as Scott Atlas, who joined the Coronavirus Task Force in August 2020, tried to get Fauci to focus on protecting the vulnerable. When Atlas and other public health scientists tried to lay out how such a program could be successfully carried out — and, in fact, was being carried out in places like Taiwan and Sweden — Fauci publicly attacked their ideas as “nonsense and very dangerous.”
How many lives could have been saved if vaccination efforts had been quickly targeted at those over 60 who had not yet contracted and recovered from COVID, instead of being delayed and dissipated in a scattershot effort to vaccinate every man, woman and child in America?
Closing the schools: From the first, Fauci was calling for nationwide school closures. On March 12, 2020, for example, he said, “One thing I do advise . . . [is] mitigation. And what was done when you close the schools is mitigation.”
Few dared to question the all-knowing Dr. Fauci in those days, but the proper response to his fear-mongering about infections among children would have been: So what if children get infected? Their risk of dying from COVID-19 is effectively zero, far lower than their risk of dying from the seasonal flu, which itself is minuscule. While schools are hotbeds of transmission for the annual influenza, they turned out not to be hotbeds of transmission for COVID, as the example of Sweden, which kept its schools open, shows.
Closing America’s schools did not save lives. But it did have a destructive effect on the academic performance and the emotional health of children. Many children went a year with virtually no schooling or social interaction at all, suffering severe learning losses that will stunt their lives and even shorten their lifespans.
As professors Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya wrote at the end of 2021, “Considering the devastating effects of school closures on children, Dr. Fauci’s advocacy for school closures may be the single biggest mistake of his career.”
Mistakes on natural immunity: Perhaps one day Fauci will tell us why, throughout the last half of 2020 and 2021, he ignored, dismissed, even ridiculed the idea that those who had recovered from COVID-19 had acquired natural immunity. This wasn’t the way he was talking at the outset of the pandemic.
In a March 2020 interview with Trevor Noah of Comedy Central, for example, Fauci asserted that it was highly likely that those who had been infected with coronavirus were now immune. “Tests haven’t confirmed it yet,” said Fauci, “but I feel really confident that if this virus acts like every other virus that we know, once you get infected, get better, clear the virus, then you’ll have immunity that will prevent you from reinfection.”
You don’t have to be an immunologist like Fauci to know this, of course. Medical practitioners have known about natural immunity since at least the time of the Antonine Plague that began in 165 AD. Everyone who’s had high school biology knows about natural immunity from disease.
Funding Chinese Labs: Fauci committed his “original pandemic sin” long before the present pandemic by playing a key role in enabling it. The long-time head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease was the chief cheerleader and funder of gain of function research — the dangerous idea that deadly viruses could be created and studied in the lab to help prevent the next pandemic.
China was happy for its scientists — including the head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology — to be taught these techniques in Fauci-funded labs.
After COVID-19 likely leaked from that Wuhan lab, Fauci’s errors began to multiply as rapidly as the coronaviruses he paid Chinese scientists to collect in bat caves and study.
He made a bad situation much, much worse.
Steven W. Mosher is the author of the newly published “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Pandemics” (Regnery Press).