Great Barrington Declaration Authors Fire Back at NIH and NIAID Bureaucrats

In October of 2020, Drs. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University), Sunetra Gupta (Oxford University), and Martin Kulldorff (Harvard University) authored the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) to “express our grave concerns over the inadequate protection of the vulnerable and the devastating harms of the lockdown pandemic policy adopted by much of the world.” 

They proposed an alternative strategy “focused on the most vulnerable.” The GBD was signed by more than 50,000 scientists and medical professionals and 800,000 members of the public.

On October 8, 2020, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins targeted the GBD in an email to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “There needs to be a quick and devastating public takedown of its premises,” Collins wrote. “I don’t see that online yet. Is it underway?” Gupta, Bhattacharya, and Kulldorff were all leading experts in infectious diseases but Collins smeared them as “fringe epidemiologists,” and the NIH boss got the hit pieces he wanted. 

Consider, for example, “The Great Barrington Declaration: When Arrogance Leads to Recklessness,” by Brooks Gump, a psychologist with a master’s degree in public health. As his bio explains, “Gump’s work has been supported by numerous NIH grants.” In effect, Gump was on Collins’ payroll. 

In a recent Epoch Times commentary, Bhattacharya and Kulldorff wonder if Collins and Fauci ever read the GBD and why they opted for a “takedown” instead of “vigorous scientific discussion.” The GBD authors recall the harm caused by the lockdowns caused, particularly the school shutdowns that harmed children without affecting disease spread. That damage will take years to reverse but the authors have thoughts on the ways to avoid similar disasters. 

The NIH director commands a budget of $42.9 billion and the NIAID $6.1 billion. “If we want scientists to speak freely in the future, we should avoid having the same people in charge of public health policy and medical research funding.” Those same bureaucrats also remain in power for far too long. 

Francis Collins was the first appointed NIH director to serve more than one president. Anthony Fauci, 81, earned a medical degree in 1966, was hired on with the NIH in 1968, and has headed NIAID since 1984. The NIAID and NIH directors should work on a contract basis and be shown the door after five years, at the most. Lifetime tenure is bad for public health, and white coat supremacy is no basis for a system of government. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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