What Doctor Fauci Got Wrong

The trouble with relying too heavily on expert opinion is that it is often flawed and alarmist. Worse, bureaucrats don’t pay any of the costs of getting it wrong—something we are learning all too well as much of the country remains under house arrest and our economy in tatters.

Instead, these taxpayer-funded “experts” simply move on to the next public health crisis that invariably comes along—with more taxpayer money and bigger budgets, of course. It’s heads they win; tails they win. And the establishment media, never too keen on math or statistics, dutifully parrots whatever the experts say.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has become a prominent public face in the course of the coronavirus crisis. As the long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has a key role on President Trump’s coronavirus task force. And, for good and for ill, he knows it.

It’s true that Fauci received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from one President Bush and was praised by another on a presidential debate stage. So what? Are the Bush family the arbiter of all that is good now?

There’s a lot of talk about how we need an Apollo program for virology but we neglect that the average age of a staffer in the control room for Apollo 11 was just 28 years old. You don’t get new blood in the gerontocracy. How likely is it that a 79-year-old has new insights into running a federal bureaucracy during a pandemic?

Indeed, we always fight the last war. For Fauci, that war is HIV/AIDS. It was not for nothing that Larry Kramer of ACT UP called Fauci “an incompetent idiot.”

Kramer may have been too kind. Let’s look at Fauci’s public utterances in his very long career at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci allowed himself to be bullied by HIV/AIDS activists, once claiming at a conference that researchers “do not have a lock on correctness.” (Contrast that with now, when he believes that we should follow everything public health authorities say.)

Fauci complimented the activists and worked hard to be on their side, according to the book, Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge.

Then, as now, Fauci mastered manipulating the press. He quickly dismissed other scientists with ad hominem attacks, claiming that the risk to the general population of HIV/AIDS was orders of magnitude larger than it actually was. In fact, HIV/AIDS transmissions in the United States outside of the intravenous drug user and homosexual community remain extremely rare.

For those gay men suffering from HIV/AIDS, Fauci put up lots of red tape for them until he finally relented in 1989.

“In the beginning, those [HIV/AIDS activists] had a blanket disgust with us,” Fauci later admitted to the Washington Post. “And it was mutual. Scientists said all trials should be restricted, rigid and slow. The gay groups said we were killing people with red tape. [Emphasis added]. When the smoke cleared we realized that much of their criticism was absolutely valid.”

How then should we think about all the red tape and restrictions Fauci is pushing today?

Or his lack of success?

Indeed, Fauci failed to cure HIV/AIDS despite tens of billions of dollars going to his work over the years—something else to keep in mind as he dismisses the latest European research on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, an ultracheap drug first developed by Bayer in the 1930s.

Instead, two gay men were cured of HIV—not in America and not by the NIH—but by scientists in London and Berlin respectively. And cheaply too.

Let’s hope we don’t have to wait decades to restart our economy while we wait around for him to find a cure.

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About Semmelweis

Semmelweis is the penname of a successful biotech and technology investor. He writes under a pseudonym to protect the innocent.

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