The Avuncular Dr. Fauci, Fluent yet Facile. Is he also a Fraud?

It is all too easy to find mistakes, misstatements and omissions made by public health officials around the Coronavirus pandemic.  Consider the fluent but facile Dr. Fauci.  Have you ever heard him say that the institute he directs has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on coronavirus research?  Has he tried to help Americans understand any details regarding the nature of SARS-Cov-2?  What was he buying with those hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars?

On February 17, Dr. Fauci told USA Today

…that he doesn’t want people to worry about coronavirus, the danger of which is “just minuscule.” But he does want them to take precautions against the “influenza outbreak, which is having its second wave.”  “We have more kids dying of flu this year at this time than in the last decade or more,” he said. “At the same time people are worrying about going to a Chinese restaurant. The threat is (we have) a pretty bad influenza season, particularly dangerous for our children.” 

Except it wasn’t true.  There had been more pediatric deaths from flu two years earlier, and this year’s toll was just above average, according to the CDC:

Click on image to launch interactive tool
Dr. Fauci ought to know a lot about coronaviruses.  The NIH Institute he directed, NIAID, has spent up to $51 million dollars a year researching them.  One third of the thousands of papers published on coronaviruses, since SARS-1 first appeared, came from US research institutes.  One quarter came from China.  And yet as recently as Feb.28, in the online NEJMFauci continued to make light of the pandemic, along with CDC Director Redfield and Deputy NIAID director Lane, who wrote:

“This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

So Fauci, who leads an institute whose mission is to respond to emerging pandemic threats, and has spent big on precisely the kind of threat now facing us, instead played down the pandemic’s severity, while falsely exaggerating the dangers of influenza.

Fauci has repeatedly emphasized the ‘lack of evidence’ to support use of hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19.  But there has accumulated a good deal of evidence. Nature published a paper by Chinese scientists on the specific mechanisms in tissue culture by which the drugs stop viral reproduction. Chinese scientists published a preprint of a 62 patient placebo-controlled trial of hydroxychloroquine, with improved time to recovery and less progression to severe disease in the treated group.  A Chinese expert consensus group recommended chloroquine routinely for mild, moderate and severe cases of Covid-19 pneumonia on February 20. Dr. Didier Raoult, an infectious disease professor in France, who is renowned for identifying over 100 microorganisms, including finding the cause of Whipple’s disease, and publishing over 2,700 papers, has championed the use of hydroxychloroquine. 

Fauci, who has spent decades researching and funding HIV vaccines that never came to fruition, who is well connected with the WHO, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a leader in the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration, is holding out (along with Bill and Melinda) for the promise of a future vaccine.  With 2,000 Americans dying daily from SARS-CoV-2, what we need are treatments!  Observational studies of treatments can and should be done.  In fact, the 21st Century Cures Act, passed by Congress in 2016, directs the FDA to accept precisely that type of evidence, in lieu of controlled clinical trials, for licensing new products. You don’t hold back a licensed drug with an established safety profile until randomized controlled clinical trials can be done.

It is entirely unethical to withhold promising treatments from patients who have a potentially lethal disease, and equally unethical to enroll them in studies in which they may receive a placebo.  Fauci needs to learn the difference between treatment (what doctors do) and research (what scientists do).  He needs to be reminded that you can obtain very useful information when treating patients and observing the results, outside a formal trial setting.  Such as the mortality rate.

Have you heard how UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was treated when he was hospitalized with Covid-19?  Wouldn’t that have been worthwhile news for the mainstream media to publish?  Dr. Fauci, won’t you tell us how Boris made such a quick recovery?

Fauci’s Hypocrisy

In an interview with USA Today seven years ago, Fauci discussed another deadly coronavirus, MERS, which was causing an outbreak in Qatar and Saudi Arabia with over 30% mortality.  Fauci sang an entirely different song than he is singing now about hydroxychloroquine.  Back then, he suggested using a licensed and available drug combination to treat MERS, even though the treatment had not gone through definitive trials. (And even though the treatment is dangerous, and is a known cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.) Might this be because his NIAID had discovered the MERS treatment and stood to benefit?

Scientists found that a combination of the antiviral drugs ribavirin and interferon-alpha 2b can stop the virus from reproducing in lab-grown cells, says lead author Darryl Falzarano of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)‘s lab in Hamilton, Mont.

That’s particularly encouraging, because these drugs, now used to treat hepatitis C, are widely available, says Anthony Fauci, director of the infectious-disease institute, which financed the research.

“We don’t have to start designing new drugs,” a process that takes years, Fauci says. “The next time someone comes into an emergency room in Qatar or Saudi Arabia, you would have drugs that are readily available. And at least you would have some data.”

Even though the treatment hasn’t gone through definitive trials, Fauci says, “if I were a physician in a hospital and someone were dying, rather than do nothing, you can see if these work.”

Update April 25:   Fauci, it seems, has a long history of playing politics with drug discovery for new pandemic diseases.  He was accused of suppressing drugs for AIDS for reasons of personal fame and profit back in the 1980s, by author, editor and professor Bruce Nussbaum, in a 1990 book titled Good Intentions.


I wrote two more updates (here and here) on the wily Dr. Fauci and his drug recommendations.

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