Fauci Defends COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
June 3, 2024COVID-19
Fauci Defends COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Washington on June 3, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

In his first congressional testimony since leaving government, Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday defended every single federal COVID-19 response that he once advocated for, including business lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, church closures, mask mandates for children, and vaccine requirements.

Dr. Fauci, who played a key role in the federal pandemic response when he served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was asked during a June 3 hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic whether he still believes the various COVID-19 mitigation measures that he once championed were justified.

“I’m going go through a list of COVID mitigation measures that you supported over the course of the pandemic and ask you to give me a yes or no as to whether you believe these measures were justified,” Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) said, asking Dr. Fauci to first comment on business closures.

“Early on, when 5,000 people were dying a day—yes,” Dr. Fauci replied.

Doubling Down On Lockdowns, Mask Mandates

Asked about church and school closures, and stay-at-home orders, Dr. Fauci replied in the affirmative, once again giving as justification the number of deaths associated with COVID-19 at the time that the policies were adopted.

“These were important when we were trying to stop the tsunami of deaths that were occurring early on,” Dr. Fauci replied, adding that the only thing that is debatable was how long the lockdowns should have lasted.

While some studies have suggested that lockdowns worked to stem the spread of the virus, other studies have identified such measures as contributing to jumps in suicides, mental health crises, learning loss, and delayed medical treatments.

Mr. Cloud then asked about mask mandates for adults and children, including those under the age of 5.

Dr. Fauci defended the masking requirements, saying that mitigation measures should be evaluated based on the circumstances at the time, namely thousands of daily deaths due to COVID-19.

The Republican lawmaker then pressed Dr. Fauci on whether there was any scientific evidence supporting the use of masks in children aged 5 and under.

In response, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that there was no such study, claiming that it would have been “impossible” at the time to carry it out and that such mitigation measures were justified by the need to “respond to an epidemic that was killing 4,000–5,000 Americans.” While there were calls by critics of mask mandates, and others, to carry out randomized trials, such calls were opposed by public health officials at the height of the pandemic on the premise that it would have been unethical to do a randomized face mask study where one group of people wears the masks while others do not.

Some studies have questioned the use of masks to prevent viral transmission, including a review published in 2023 at the Cochrane Library that analyzed 78 randomized controlled trials and found that mask-wearing didn’t show “a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection.”

Tom Jefferson, a senior associate tutor at the University of Oxford and lead author of the Cochrane study, said in an interview with the Brownstone Institution last year that he disagreed with the argument that it would have been unethical to do a randomized face mask study during COVID-19.

“We don’t know what effect masks will have. If we don’t know what impact they have, how can it be unethical? Strident fanatics have managed to poison this whole discussion and try and make it into a black and white thing … and rely on terribly flawed studies,” Mr. Jefferson said at the time.

“There is just no evidence that they (masks) make any difference. Full stop,” Mr. Jefferson said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, there were some voices who said masks did not work, and then suddenly the narrative changed.”

‘Comic Book Supervillain’

Mr. Cloud then asked about vaccine mandates for federal employees, students, and members of the military, prompting Dr. Fauci to proclaim that it’s “very, very clear that vaccines have saved hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

Dr. Fauci pushed back on Mr. Cloud’s assertion that the COVID-19 vaccines didn’t prevent infection.

“In the beginning, it clearly prevented infection in a certain percentage of people but the durability of its ability to prevent infection was not long—it was measured in months,” Dr. Fauci said.

“And they didn’t stop you from spreading it either,” Mr. Cloud interjected, prompting Dr. Fauci to insist that, at the beginning, vaccines did prevent transmission but that ability was lost when the vaccines’ efficacy waned in the face of newly emerging variants.

Mr. Cloud then said that what was troubling about the various harsh mitigation measures was that they had a destructive impact on Americans’ lives, including people losing their jobs or dying from cancer because of reduced screenings due to lockdowns.

During Monday’s hearing, Dr. Fauci defended the various mitigation measures on the premise that public health officials were acting in the interest of saving lives by erring towards caution at a time when relatively little was known about the virus.

At one point during the hearing, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) accused Dr. Fauci of “making up” rules that were not grounded in scientific studies, such as the six-feet social distancing guidelines. She called for him to be jailed.

“We should be writing a criminal referral because you should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity,” Ms. Greene said. “You belong in prison.”

Dr. Fauci insisted he never “made anything up” and that he merely said that the six-feet social distancing guidance was “not based on science and it just appeared.”

Democrats at the hearing defended Dr. Fauci while chastising Republicans for how they treated the former public servant.

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), praised Dr. Fauci’s actions and condemned Republicans for allegedly fueling distrust in public health institutions.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said that Dr. Fauci is not the “comic book supervillain” some Americans believe he is.

From The Epoch Times

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