Dr Anthony Fauci has achieved godlike status within the media and administrative state. His words are treated as gospel, to be accepted without question regarding all things COVID. He is a long-established member of the ruling class, first coming to fame in the early days of HIV and AIDS.
As head of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he is also the highest paid employee in the entire US federal government. He earned $417,608 in 2019, more than the US president, at the time Donald Trump, who donated his entire presidential salary to charity. Dr Fauci undoubtedly has additional income from patents, royalties, and speaking fees, common for those in the upper echelons of the medical establishment.
Revered by the media, in the COVID era he has graced numerous magazine covers, was nominated as one of People’s sexiest men alive, and was a constant guest on television news shows. He replaced the last darling of cable news, the putative Trump-slayer and potential presidential candidate Michael Avenatti, who is now the darling of the prison mess hall rather than Brian Stelter’s CNN snooze fest show. Some believe Dr Fauci should follow Avenatti’s footsteps to prison.
Dr Fauci is perhaps most famous for his flip flops. Granted, in medicine recommendations change based on new knowledge or discoveries. Once leaches and bloodletting were standard treatments. Decades ago, women had hysterectomies and children received tonsillectomies almost as a rite of passage. But with infectious diseases, particularly flu-like illnesses, public health measures have been standard for decades as most of these viruses behave similarly, the differences being in how contagious they are, which demographic they afflict, and how they manifest systemically.
Start with masks, a staple of pandemics since the beak-shaped plague masks of the 17th century. Dr Fauci has had more positions than a yoga instructor regarding mask use.
At the beginning of the pandemic, over a year ago, Dr Fauci had the traditional public health stance on masks, time tested and used during all previous viral outbreaks.
There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.
Yet that standard was quickly tossed out the window and masks have become standard attire for anyone brave enough to leave their home over the past year. CNN took it one step further and recommended wearing a mask at home.
Dr Fauci promoted vaccines as the pathway to normality and putting COVID behind us. Yet in February, Dr Anthony Fauci warned that Americans may still need to wear face masks through 2022 to protect against the spread of COVID, emerging variants, and whatever else might escape from one the labs his agency funded.
He even doubled down, recommending wearing two masks, “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective.” If one is good, two must be better. Why not 5 or 10 masks? Or a hazmat suit?
Now the CDC tells us we can ditch the masks if fully vaccinated. Dr Fauci and the bureaucracy has flipped and flopped, from no masks, to one, to two, then back to one, now none.
Did mask science change numerous times over the past year? The few studies on masks suggest they are of little if any benefit, as in the Danish mask study. The only thing changing in the past year was politics and who was in the White House. It seems the flip flops were based on politics, not science.
What about that notorious virology lab in Wuhan where this pandemic likely originated? What has Dr Fauci said about this?
We were told for months that the virus originated in a Wuhan wet market, from pangolin stew or bat soup, and any assertion to the contrary was met with ridicule, scorn, and social media censorship.
Yet no animal intermediate host for COVID has yet been found and bat caves are hundreds of miles from Wuhan. And coincidently, or not, the Wuhan lab is the only lab in China secure enough to safely handle deadly coronaviruses. This is where coronavirus research is conducted in China.
A year ago, CNN giddily proclaimed, “Anthony Fauci just crushed Donald Trump’s theory on the origins of the coronavirus.” Fauci last year said,
If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.
From flip to flop, now Dr Fauci is singing a new tune on the origins of the Chinese coronavirus. When asked if the virus developed naturally, he replied,
No actually I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.
What changed? Whatever Trump said was reflexively criticized by the media and medical establishment, and now that he is no longer president, it’s politically acceptable to tacitly acknowledge he was right all along. From flip to flop.
Dr Fauci also flip flopped on whether the US funded the Wuhan virology lab. When questioned by Senator Rand Paul a few weeks ago, Dr Fauci adamantly declared that the NIH, “has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Yet the NIH did fund a New York based nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance that did financially support bat coronavirus research in Wuhan. While Fauci was technically correct, he parsed his words with the deftness of Bill Clinton famously explaining, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
There were grants and subgrants from NIH to EcoHealth Alliance, which Dr Fauci dances around. If I give my friend money to buy me a pack of cigarettes, technically he bought the cigarettes, not me, even though he bought them for me. Just because the NIH funneled the money through a third party, they indeed funded the Wuhan lab. Did this third party direct the money toward gain of function research, keeping Dr Fauci’s hands clean?
There seems to be great interest in a former president’s tax returns. How about Dr Fauci’s tax returns? Or the spending records of the NIH? It seems transparency only goes one way. Why can’t we see who and what the government is funding around COVID, especially given how COVID wrecked the country and so many Americans personally
A Trafalgar Group survey recently found that confidence in Dr Fauci has decreased 42.2% among Americans over the past year. With his history of flip flops while he basked in the media’s adoring spotlight, he appears more of a television doctor than the infectious disease scholar he claims to be.
The satirical Babylon Bee summed it up nicely with this headline, “Dr Fauci gets in heated debate with seventeen previous versions of himself.”
Republican lawmakers are increasingly calling for Dr Fauci’s resignation or firing over his prioritizing politics ahead of science, and not being honest with the American people. As the flip flops continue, expect these calls to increase.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and writer. He is on sabbatical from social media.
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