“I don’t think you are the one person who gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and we can safely open the economy.” That was Sen. Rand Paul, a medical doctor, addressing Dr. Anthony Fauci in the May 12 hearing with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Dr. Fauci is a member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, and this may have been the strongest pushback he has ever received from any member of Congress.
Dr. Fauci shot back that he was a scientist, a physician and a public health official who did not pronounce on economic matters. That would surprise millions of Americans distanced from their jobs by the strict lockdown policies advocated by Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). They might also notice the doctor’s tendency to get things wrong.
In January, Dr. Fauci told reporters that China was being more transparent than during the SARS outbreak of 2003. According to the NIAID boss, “This time around from my perception they look like they’re being quite transparent.” In reality, they were anything but. Also in January, Dr. Fauci said it was unclear whether the coronavirus could spread person to person and cited a very low risk to the United States. According to Dr. Fauci, people need not wear masks but then he contended they should. Shaking hands is right out, but according to Dr. Fauci it’s okay to have sex with strangers you meet online.
In press conferences, Dr. Fauci avoided hard data such as the COVID-19 mortality rate and gave preference to various “models” of how the virus might spread. Prophecy is not science, but in early April, Dr. Fauci said the coronavirus might become “seasonal” with a resurgence later in the year. On May 12, Dr. Fauci held a hard line, and that touched off the pushback from Rand Paul, which was long overdue.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, 79, has held forth at NIAID since 1984, a full 36 years. That’s an awfully long time for someone who never once faced the voters.