Anthony Fauci for the Higgy

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Whether you love, hate or feel a disgusted indifference to Donald Trump should, logically have no bearing on what you think of Anthony Fauci. I personally land somewhere between category 2 and category 3, but nevertheless that doesn’t mean that everyone else somewhere on that spectrum is somehow automatically worthy. Shallow nitwits thinking otherwise must live with the fact that they gave Andrew Cuomo and Emmy Award for the rest of their shallow nitwit days.

A great many people have earned Higgy nominations during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many of them are anonymous bureaucrats. I’m not sure what the Center for Disease Control has been doing with their annual multi-billion budget for the last three decades, but preparing to control a disease seemed strangely absent from the list. The CDC put out bad tests during the critical early period, and then Food and Drug Administration hamstrung more effective and more easily scaled tests. Unfortunately there is no clear individual in my mind to nominate to personify a deeply less than useless CDC/FDA combo. I always viewed their follies as indicative of a deep systemic cultural problem in the agencies and our broader political culture. If, for instance, the 2016 election had swung the other way it always struck me as profoundly unlikely that the CDC and FDA would have been much less of a goat-rodeo than what we watched. After all it would have been largely the same group of people running the agencies.

Speaking of the same group of people running things into the ground regardless of elections, Antony Fauci has earned a Higgy.

Fauci became a hero in the minds of many Americans because he publicly disagreed with Donald Trump on occasion. Donald Trump is not my cup of tea, and I voted for other candidates at every opportunity. Feuding with Trump however ought not to constitute a general pass for mendacity and/or incompetence. Sadly, Fauci has exhibited both of these repeatedly.

On January 21st 2020, with the COVID-19 virus spreading in China, Anthony Fauci first came to our attention in context of the pandemic. Not however in a positive way. Fauci, who had been serving at the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases since (gasp) 1984 stated that COVID-19 “is not a major threat for the people of the United States and this is not something the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.” Needless to say, that statement didn’t age well.

A few days later the Trump administration began holding a vigorous internal debate regarding banning travel from China to the United States. Fauci strongly opposed the measure, but the administration decided to impose such a ban on January 31st. The Trump administration certainly bears some blame for the fact that the decision to cut travel from China was xenophobic due to previous xenophobic grandstanding, and the virus was already in the United States by January 31st, but Fauci himself later stated that the decision saved lives.

This brings us to l’affaire de masque.

In March Fauci told 60 Minutes “Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks.” Months later, Fauci performed a U-Turn on masks. “Masks work . . . to prevent you from infecting someone else . . . but also, it can protect you to a certain degree.” 

At this point I concluded that Fauci was either a complete incompetent or was a liar. As it turns out, he demonstrated himself to be both of these things, but on masks he later claimed to have been lying. “We were told . . . we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for health providers…we really need to save the masks for the people who need them most.”

Whether he was actually just too incompetent or shoveling out what he imagined to be a noble lie doesn’t ultimately matter. This was a catastrophic mistake in either case. No American had any reason whatsoever to have any confidence made by federal health authorities. You were on your own to figure out whether masks were likely to help slow the spread of a **cough** upper respiratory disease or not. Our alleged federal Olympians had been on both sides of the issue.

How should this have been handled “We absolutely need to get as many PPEs as possible for our medical personnel, and we don’t yet have conclusive evidence on cloth masks, but COVID-19 is an upper-respiratory disease and wearing cloth masks can’t hurt anything. We are therefore recommending their use pending further study.”

Later on the subject of herd immunity, Fauci told the New York Times “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Dr. Fauci said. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”

Why should anyone care the least little bit about anything Fauci thinks or says? First what he thinks doesn’t seem to have much of a track record, second he obviously doesn’t always say what he thinks. Moreover the fantasy that somehow Americans are sitting around the dinner table hanging on every word of Fauci in making their decision on whether or not to get a vaccine shows a cosmic lack of self-awareness. Perhaps I can provide a bit of clarity: your fan club was always going to get vaccinated and no one else cares what you think.

In the same way that Trump’s general xenophobic actions and rhetoric did not mean that shutting down flights from China was a bad idea, Fauci’s follies also do not mean it’s a bad idea to get a vaccine. I received mine about a week ago, I have no reason to believe they are unsafe, and the broad reduction in cases and deaths underway represent very positive trends that you’d be hard pressed to credibly attribute to anything else. In other words go get vaccinated.

Finally however comes a Wall Street Journal article detailing how Great Britain has managed to get the COVID-19 death rate down substantially faster than the United States. In examining the data, British authorities (correctly) decided that it did not make much sense to spend effort giving people a booster shot when the same shot could provide a high rate of immunity, whereas the booster shot can only add on to an already high rate of immunity.

Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, a member of President Biden’s COVID task force, asked federal health officials to re-examine COVID-19 vaccine data with an eye toward delaying the second dose so more people can quickly receive first shots- the British strategy.

Osterholm told the Star Tribune:

“We could get more of our over-65 age group vaccinated,” said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “I think the data will support that actually is a very effective way to go.”

Sure enough the data did support the British strategy. The American COVID-19 death rate has dropped an impressive 74% since the peak in January. In Britain however the rate has dropped by 96% and that is without access to the single shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

I’ll give you one guess only who opposed pursuing the British strategy. For his consistent level of mendacity and incompetence and imagining it possible to “nudge” people to get vaccinated after doing a great deal to undermine public confidence, I nominate Anthony Fauci for the 2021 Higgy.

2 Responses to Anthony Fauci for the Higgy

  1. Greg Forster says:

    A very worthy nomination of a very unworthy nominee! The forfeiting of public trust due to the lying and the incompetent, lurch-back-and-forth messaging will cost an incalculable number of lives in the present crisis and future ones.

  2. Zeev Wurman says:

    I join Matt and Greg. Rarely we’ve had such a worthy candidate that contributed so massively to loss of trust of the public in our medical system, as well as direct contribution to pandemic deaths.

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