National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has been one of the leading government voices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on in the pandemic, Dr. Fauci frequently appeared at the White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefings alongside President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Task Force Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. He offered Americans insight on what they could do to protect themselves, their loved ones, and help slow the spread of the virus.
But over the last 14 months, Dr. Fauci has repeatedly flip-flopped on vital pandemic-related advice. These are six of his worst offenses.
1. Dr. Fauci was against banning travel from China. Now he credits the move for protecting Americans.
In mid-January 2020, Dr. Fauci — along with other health experts — reportedly opposed President Donald Trump’s desire to restrict travel from China, where the virus originated. According to The New York Times, Fauci “had argued that such travel limits only delay the eventual spread.”
Fauci later admitted in front of Congress that the travel restrictions from China, Europe, and the UK saved American lives, as Fox News reported in July 2020:
“Do you agree with that decision?” asked [Congressman Steve] Scalise.
“I do,” Fauci responded.
“Do you think that decision saved lives, Dr. Fauci?” Scalise asked.
“Yes, I do,” the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases answered.
Dr. Fauci later testified that he was “actively involved” in the Trump administration’s move to restrict air travel from Europe to the United States.
2. First, masks were unnecessary. Then, they became a must.
When the pandemic began in March of 2020, Dr. Fauci advised against the general public’s use of masks, saying they might make Americans “feel a little bit better,” but they don’t necessarily protect anyone from COVID. In fact, Dr. Fauci said mask-wearing could have “unintended consequences,” The Daily Wire reported.
“Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” Fauci explained. “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask when you’re in the middle of an outbreak.”
“Wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And often, there are unintended consequences; people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face,” Dr. Fauci said. “When you think mask, you should think of health care providers needing them and people who are ill.”
Part of the reason he advised against the widespread use of masks is because it could lead to a shortage of masks for the “people who really need it,” Fauci later said, referring to medical professionals.
At the beginning of April 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised the general public to wear face coverings while out in public. In May of 2020, Dr. Fauci said he began wearing a mask for “protection” against the virus.
“I want to protect myself and protect others, and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing,” the NIAID head explained during an interview with CNN.
Dr. Fauci admitted at the time masks are not “100% effective” but it shows “respect for another person.”
Current CDC guidance on masks states that “A mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially when indoors around people who don’t live in your household,” adding that “Masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household. However, some areas may have mask mandates while out in public, so please check the rules in your local area (such as in your city, county, or state). Additionally, check whether any federal mask mandates apply to where you will be going.”
3. One mask is no longer the status quo.
Fast forward to January 2021 and Dr. Fauci doesn’t want Americans to wear just one mask. He wants them to “double-mask.”
“If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci said, according to The Daily Wire.
In February 2021, Dr. Fauci said Americans would have to continue wearing masks until the virus is “not a threat at all.”
“If we can get — and I have used this as an estimate, it’s not definitive — but if we can get 70 to 85 percent of the population vaccinated, and get to what we would hope would be to a degree of herd immunity, which really is an umbrella or a veil of protection against the community, where the level of virus is so low it’s not a threat at all, then at that point, you can start thinking in terms of not having to have uniform wearing of masks,” Fauci told Fox News’ Brett Baier, according to a report from The Daily Wire.
“If everything falls into the right place and we get this under control, it is conceivable that you might be able to pull back a bit on some of the public health measures as we get into the late fall of this year,” he said. “But there’s no guarantee of that, because if we don’t get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, there’s still going be a considerable amount of virus in the community, and as long as that’s the case, people are going to have to wear masks.”
Last month, Congressman Jim Jordan pressed Dr. Fauci on definitive numbers — either vaccination rates or caseloads — that the nation would have to reach in order to go back to “normal.” As The Daily Wire reported, Fauci couldn’t provide a definitive answer.
4. But, according to Fauci, masks might not go away with COVID.
Now the NIAID head is saying mask-wearing is something that could become quite common, especially during flu season, The Daily Wire reported.
“People have gotten used to wearing masks. Clearly, if you look at the data, [a mask] diminishes respiratory diseases,” Fauci explained to NBC News’ Chuck Todd. “We’ve had practically a non-existent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against COVID-19.”
“So it is conceivable that as we go on, a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory-borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory-borne diseases,” the infectious disease doctor said.
5. Dr. Fauci was skeptical about Operation Warp Speed. Now he’s taking credit for COVID vaccine development.
One of President Donald Trump’s ultimate goals when the COVID-19 pandemic began, was to create a vaccine in record-breaking time. That’s how Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership, was developed.
Although Trump appeared positive that the medical community could research, develop, manufacture, and distribute a COVID vaccine in record time, Dr. Fauci wasn’t as optimistic.
According to The Daily Wire, Fauci said in March 2020 that “It will take at least a year to a year and a half to have a vaccine we can use.”
When the first doses of the vaccine began to roll out in December 2020, Dr. Fauci criticized the number of doses that were made available.
“We would’ve liked to have seen it run smoothly and have 20 million doses into people today, by the end of the (year) 2020, which was the projection. Obviously, it didn’t happen and that’s disappointing,” Fauci said on the “TODAY” show.
In a CNN special, “COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out,” Fauci took the majority of the credit for Operation Warp Speed’s success.
“When I saw what happened in New York City, almost overrunning of our health care systems, and that’s when it became very clear that the decision we made on January 10 to go all-out and develop a vaccine, may have been the best decision that I’ve ever made with regard to intervention as the director of the institute,” the NIAID head said, according to a report from The Daily Wire.
CNN’s narration of Operation Warp Speed also failed to provide President Trump and Operation Warp Speed with credit for the vaccine’s record-breaking development.
President Trump took issue with Fauci’s interview, saying the NIAID head “tried to take credit for the vaccine, when in fact he said it would take three to five years, and probably longer, to have it approved.”
“Dr. Fauci was incapable of pressing the FDA to move it through faster. I was the one to get it done, and even the fake news media knows and reports this,” Trump said in a statement following the CNN special. “Dr. Fauci is also the king of ‘flip-flops’ and moving the goalposts to make himself look as good as possible. He fought me so hard because he wanted to keep our country open to countries like China. I closed it against his strong recommendation, which saved many lives. Dr. Fauci also said we didn’t need to wear masks, then a few months later he said we needed to wear masks, and now, two or three of them. Fauci spent U.S. money on the Wuhan lab in China—and we now know how that worked out.”
The NIAID head is now encouraging young, healthy people to receive the vaccine he was skeptical would exist at this point in time.
“You’re worried about yourself getting infected and [the] likelihood that you’re not gonna get any symptoms, but you can get infected and will get infected if you put yourself at risk, and even if you don’t have any symptoms, you’re propagating the outbreak because it is likely that you — even if you have no symptoms — that you may inadvertently and innocently then infect someone else who might infect someone who really could have a problem with a severe outcome,” Fauci told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie a few weeks ago.
Beth Baumann is a Political Reporter and Editor at The Daily Wire. Follow her on Twitter @eb454.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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