By Jeffrey A. Tucker, the Brownstone Institute
Billed as the most in-depth interview yet, the New York Times published a very long piece that contains some rather startling admissions, claims, and defenses from Anthony Fauci, the face of lockdowns and shot mandates.
The author and interviewer is David Wallace-Wells, who before (and now after) Covid specialized in writing about climate change, invokes every predictable trope. So there was a sense in which this interview was a lovefest between the two. Still it netted some interesting results.
Here are my top-ten picks of Fauci quotes.
1. Fauci: “Something clearly went wrong. And I don’t know exactly what it was. But the reason we know it went wrong is that we are the richest country in the world, and on a per-capita basis we’ve done worse than virtually all other countries.”
This seems promising but one quickly realizes that there is an axiom among the people responsible for lockdowns. They were completely correct in their thinking. The problem was not enough centralization, prior planning, or resources. Also there was too much disinformation and non-compliance, leading to a low vaccine uptake compared with other countries. The vaccines are the miracle and the greatest achievement of the pandemic, a point on which they admit no argument.
This is also the conclusion of a thing called The Covid Crisis Group (funded mostly by the Charles Koch and Rockefeller Foundations) which has released the new book Lessons from the Covid War: An Investigative Report. There is no PDF. You have to buy it. The lead author is the well-known fixer Philip Zelikow, who wrote the 9-11 Commission report. Included among the team is none other than Carter Mecher, who bears more responsibility for school closings than anyone else. Also there is Rajeev Venkayya, the one-time Bush administration official who is widely credited with having invented the very concept of lockdowns.
It’s their story and they are sticking to it.
2. Fauci on vaccine mandates: “Man, I think, almost paradoxically, you had people who were on the fence about getting vaccinated thinking, why are they forcing me to do this? And that sometimes-beautiful independent streak in our country becomes counterproductive. And you have that smoldering anti-science feeling, a divisiveness that’s palpable politically in this country.”
If you didn’t think you needed the vaccine or didn’t trust it, Fauci proclaims that you are responsible for divisiveness and anti-science feeling. The “independent streak” is called freedom, which for him is the real problem. The lesson for next time? Hard to know. Maybe he thinks the mandates should have been enforced with more energy.
3. Fauci on the economics of the lockdowns: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not an economic organization. The surgeon general is not an economist. So we looked at it from a purely public-health standpoint. It was for other people to make broader assessments — people whose positions include but aren’t exclusively about public health. Those people have to make the decisions about the balance between the potential negative consequences of something versus the benefits of something.”
There we go with the great divide between public health and real life, as if one does not impact the other. Public health cared not for economics – the science of human cooperation – and, sadly, the economists were too often unschooled on public health. The compartmentalization of speciality fields played into the haphazard totalitarianism we experienced.
4. Fauci on why he is not responsible for anything: “when people say, ‘Fauci shut down the economy’ — it wasn’t Fauci. The C.D.C. was the organization that made those recommendations. I happened to be perceived as the personification of the recommendations. But show me a school that I shut down and show me a factory that I shut down. Never. I never did. I gave a public-health recommendation that echoed the C.D.C.’s recommendation, and people made a decision based on that. But I never criticized the people who had to make the decisions one way or the other.”
He was merely deferring to a giant bureaucracy where no one takes responsibility either!
5. Fauci on how they should have locked down earlier: “We were not fully appreciative of the fact that we were dealing with a highly, highly transmissible virus that was clearly spread by ways that were unprecedented and unexperienced by us. And so it fooled us in the beginning and confused us about the need for masks and the need for ventilation and the need for inhibition of social interaction.” Should they have shut down in February 2020? “We should have, probably, if we knew what we know now.”
Inexperienced in a textbook respiratory virus? It’s because they thought it was a bioweapon that could be handled like AIDS. Masks were the condoms. Lockdowns were the behavioral changes. Minimizing of cases was the metric of success. On every point, they were wrong. Plus they didn’t even learn from the AIDS experience. It wasn’t the vaccines that cooled the crisis. It was the therapeutics innovated in clinical experience. Instead, Fauci shut down all efforts at early treatment to wait for the vaccines. Having done it earlier would have been even worse!
6. Fauci on the effectiveness of masking: “From a broad public-health standpoint, at the population level, masks work at the margins — maybe 10 percent. But for an individual who religiously wears a mask, a well-fitted KN95 or N95, it’s not at the margin. It really does work. But I think anything that instigated or intensified the culture wars just made things worse. And I have to be honest with you, David, when it comes to masking, I don’t know.”
He doesn’t know. At least he admits it. And yet the CDC is still suing for the legal right to impose masking on the whole population whoever it wants.
7. Fauci on not understanding the virus: “Herd immunity is based on two premises: one, that the virus doesn’t change, and two, that when you get infected or vaccinated, the durability of protection is measured in decades, if not a lifetime. With SARS-CoV-2, we thought protection against infection was going to be measured in a long period of time. And we found out — wait a minute, protection against infection, and against severe disease, is measured in months, not decades. No. 2, the virus that you got infected with in January 2020 is very different from the virus that you’re going to get infected with in 2021 and 2022.”
To be clear, nothing about herd immunity requires lifetime immunity and it certainly is not premised on unchanging virus. Indeed, it is astonishing that he claims they had no idea the virus would mutate. It’s an established reality that such widespread and mostly non-deadly pathogens like this mutate, which is precisely why they cannot be eradicated through vaccination. Why must anyone have to explain virus basics to Fauci of all people?
8. Fauci on the huge age gradient of medically significant risk: “Did we say that the elderly were much more vulnerable? Yes. Did we say it over and over and over again? Yes, yes, yes. But somehow or other, the general public didn’t get that feeling that the vulnerable are really, really heavily weighted toward the elderly. Like 85 percent of the hospitalizations are there.”
In fact, their solution was to shut down the whole of society for a virus that was mostly if not entirely a danger to the aged and sick. And to justify that, they absolutely did obscure the risk gradient, which is why most everyone was running around like their hair was on fire. The attempt was precisely to create population fear and panic, as Fauci said many times in private.
9. Fauci on whether the NIH funded the lab that leaked the virus. “ Now you’re saying things that are a little bit troublesome to me. That I need to go to bed tonight worrying that N.I.H.-funded research was responsible for pandemic origins…. Well, I sleep fine. I sleep fine. And remember, this work was done in order to be able to help prepare us for the next outbreak. This work was not conceived by me as I was having my omelet in the morning. It is a grant that was put before peer review of independent scientists whose main role is to try to get data to protect the health and safety of the American public and the world. And it was judged that this type of research was important.”
Once again, if the NIH had anything to do with funding the research that led to the virus, he is not responsible for that either. It was those pesky independent scientists. He has again thrown colleagues under the bus.
10. Fauci on gain-of-function research: “Some want to pass a law: All gain-of-function should be stopped. But if all gain-of-function stops, you will have no vaccines for flu. You will have no vaccines for any of the other diseases, because all of that manipulates a virus or a pathogen to gain a certain function to be able to make a vaccine.”
That’s a very hard claim. I asked ChatGPT about that and it quickly spat out the following:
“No, the flu vaccine does not require gain-of-function research. The development of flu vaccines typically involves studying the behavior of the virus and its strains, identifying the most common strains and predicting which one will be most prevalent in the upcoming season. The vaccine is then developed using inactivated or attenuated versions of the virus, which do not require gain-of-function research. Gain-of-function research, which involves genetically modifying viruses to make them more infectious or deadly, is sometimes used for studying the flu virus, but it is not required for the creation of flu vaccines.”
If not for the flu vaccine, what is gain-of-function’s purpose? The creation of bioweapons and vaccines to confound them? The track record of this looks awful.
Fauci and his friends keep trying to close the book on the Covid epoch. They have settled on the messaging and are doing everything possible to tie it all up in a bow in hopes that everyone will move on. The mainstream media wants to move on too. Everyone guilty for the wreckage wants to do the same, particularly the elites in every sector that pushed for and celebrated the mass violation of human rights.
They are wrong. The book is not closed and will not be until we get honest answers.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.
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