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Thursday, January 18, 2024

Fauci Admits to Multiple COVID-19 Missteps during Closed-Door Hearing

Fauci’s recent congressional testimony held a surprising number of admissions.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci sat down last week with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. During a 14-hour session, the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was grilled by lawmakers on various subjects, including the origins of COVID-19, coerced vaccination, mask mandates, and the lost learning of students due to school closures.

Though the interview took place behind closed doors, parts of Fauci’s testimony were reported by media and lawmakers, offering various revelations — including the fact that Fauci said he was “not convinced” schoolchildren actually experienced learning loss during the pandemic.

An abundance of evidence contradicts Fauci’s belief, including research cited by Harvard Magazine showing “a significant decline” over the past three years in reading, math, and history, part of what the New York Times editorial board recently described as “the most damaging disruption in the history of American education.”

But put learning loss and Fauci’s denials aside for now. His admissions are damning enough.

Take “social distancing,” the idea that people had to be six feet apart from one another to be in public, a ritual virtually all of us participated in at one time or another to grab a bite to eat at our local restaurant. Fauci admitted to lawmakers that the policy was basically a charade, something that “sort of just appeared” and lacked scientific basis.

Or take the unintended consequences of the coercive vaccine policies Fauci advocated and governments initiated at the federal, state, and local levels. Fauci, who privately told officials that “it’s been proven that when you make it difficult for people in their lives, they lose their ideological bulls*** and they get vaccinated,” conceded that the coercive vaccine policies he advocated likely increased vaccine hesitancy. (The evidence suggests he is probably right.)

And then, there was the hypothesis that COVID-19 emerged from a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where the government of the United States was funding risky gain-of-function research. Fauci initially laughed off the possibility that COVID-19 could have emerged from the lab, calling it “molecularly impossible.” (The U.S. government also collaborated with social media companies to censor users who speculated that COVID-19 could have emerged from the institute.)

Fauci now concedes that the lab leak hypothesis was not a conspiracy theory, according to congressional lawmakers.

In summary, Fauci admitted he pushed COVID-19 protocols that lacked scientific rigor, advocated coercive vaccine policies to disrupt people’s lives that likely fueled vaccine hesitancy, and unjustly smeared millions of people as conspiracy theorists for hypothesizing on a COVID-19 origin story that the FBI now admits is likely true.

These admissions are damning, and hopefully, they mark the beginning of a much larger mea culpa from Fauci and his longtime superior, Dr. Francis Collins, the previous director of the National Institutes of Health.

In a little-noticed interview last summer, Collins also admitted “mistakes,” explaining that in public health, officials often take a very narrow view of the trade-offs of health policies.

“You attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life,” Collins said. “You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never might quite recover from.”

Collins is not wrong. This is one of the most basic lessons in economics: There are no solutions to complex problems, just trade-offs. That’s why sensible economists raised objections to the “if it saves just one life” mantra early in the pandemic.

“Rational people understand this isn’t how the world works. Regardless of whether we acknowledge them, trade-offs exist,” political scientist James Harrigan and economist Antony Davies wrote in April 2020. “And acknowledging trade-offs is an important part of constructing sound policy.”

Harrigan and Davies were hardly alone. Many economists and public health officials recognized this truth in 2020. But instead of listening or opening a dialogue to craft sensible solutions, Collins and Fauci plotted a “take down” of them. This is not how science operates. Nor is it how public policy should be conducted.

This brings me back to Fauci’s recent congressional testimony.

The fact that Fauci is finally beginning to fess up about the role his policies played in one of the worst disasters in modern history is welcome news. But a two-day closed hearing is not sufficient for something of this magnitude or the allegations facing Fauci, which include an alleged attempt to influence the CIA’s report on the origins of COVID-19.

Fortunately, a public hearing is expected to take place in the coming weeks or months. Let’s hope lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, are prepared to ask important questions.

This article originally appeared in The Washington Examiner.

  • Jonathan Miltimore is the Senior Creative Strategist of at the Foundation for Economic Education.