Columns
Premium

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Made Me a Fan of Public Hearings and Book Burning

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

This country needs a 9/11-style commission–and not for January 6. The COVID-19 pandemic response resulted in so many questionable actions from our public health bureaucracy that Americans deserve answers and accountability. The unelected, lab coat-wearing, glorified program managers that roam the halls of the CDC, NIH, and FDA should be the death of the progressive idea that a secular priesthood of “experts” can rule us.

I have railed against many of the more draconian measures taken in most of the western world, such as lockdowns, masks, and incredible pressure to vaccinate. However, the leverage that the experts used was always the number of “cases.” Rather than edit articles I have written containing the phrase “casedemic,” I have retracted them. For over a year, the data has been available that the United States and other western countries were using an oversensitive PCR test.

Even worse, the World Health Organization finally came clean in January and admitted that these tests are not diagnostic for COVID-19. It also cautioned users that as disease prevalence decreases, the risk of a false positive goes up:

WHO reminds IVD users that disease prevalence alters the predictive value of test results; as disease prevalence decreases, the risk of false positive increases (2). This means that the probability that a person who has a positive result (SARS-CoV-2 detected) is truly infected with SARS-CoV-2 decreases as prevalence decreases, irrespective of the claimed specificity.

Most PCR assays are indicated as an aid for diagnosis, therefore, health care providers must consider any result in combination with timing of sampling, specimen type, assay specifics, clinical observations, patient history, confirmed status of any contacts, and epidemiological information.

We had been running people for almost a year through testing centers, where no medical history was taken, and alerting them to their results via phone, text message, or an app. The process provided no opportunity for clinical evaluation. The first story regarding the possibility of false positives due to extremely high cycle thresholds (Ct) in the test was in  August 2020 in the  New York Times. Several studies indicating the Ct on tests were too high or accurate at specific time intervals post-exposure emerged last fall.

Someone has taken all of this information and put it in an easy-to-understand video that should go viral. Even if you understand the research the video references and have heard the Noble Prize-winning scientist who invented the PCR technology, Dr. Kary Mullis, explain he never intended it to diagnose disease, it is infuriating:

It appears that our public health bureaucracy knew very well the potential for these tests to go wrong. The whooping cough disaster demonstrated that very well. Mullins fought against the use of PCR technology in testing during the HIV epidemic. He pointed out the interpretation of results was the problem. Still, we haphazardly used millions of these tests, and politicians used them to isolate people, lock down businesses, make masks mandatory, and convince Americans that their healthy fellow citizens could be a mortal risk to them.

The FDA authorizes tests, the CDC provides instructions for their use, and the NIH communicates the results. Public hearings are the only way to figure out why the FDA required such high Ct tests, why the CDC recommended a Ct of 40 before they were considered negative, and if the NIH really thought perfectly healthy Americans were transmitting the virus to anyone.

It will also help us understand why we are still using these tests, with guidelines that have not been updated since December 2020, to diagnose illness in the absence of symptoms. The CDC puts the percent positive at 2.5% on a fraction of the number of COVID-19 tests conducted six months ago. At the height of the pandemic, the larger number of tests were showing double-digit percent positives. At a minimum, positive PCRs should be cultured for a replication-competent virus to determine the actual rate of infection.

There may be no monetary relief for those who suffered if hearings determine we were over-tested and needlessly restricted. Getting to the bottom of who decided to make the Ct on the COVID-19 PCR tests needlessly high and leave it there despite all evidence to the contrary will at least bring an opportunity for accountability. And one person who should be held accountable is Dr. Anthony Fauci.

He was a crucial figure in the response to HIV and was part of the debate over using the PCR test. In July of last year, he said scientists generally agreed that a CT of 35 and over was “dead nucleotides, period” incapable of causing an infection. Keeping the threshold for a negative at 40 potentially found positive tests an order of magnitude higher than were transmissible cases of the virus. Yet, he went gleefully on television to communicate all positive tests as cases.

It is also not the first health crisis Fauci has mismanaged by speculating on asymptomatic spread in the absence of evidence, denying repurposed drugs, and relying on poorly designed clinical trials. The parallels to Fauci’s behavior in the 1980s are pretty startling. History proved him wrong then, and it is likely it will prove him wrong now. Don’t be surprised if Ivermectin is on the NIH list of approved drugs for outpatient treatment of COVID-19 in 2025. Though that won’t give Bret Weinstein the revenue he has lost for talking about it on his YouTube channel. And it won’t bring back anyone who might have been saved by its use.

Fauci is part of a captured institution that has acted politically as much as he has performed as a physician. After his funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab and his emails became public, Amazon canceled Fauci’s upcoming book. Yet the newly released children’s book Dr. Fauci: How a Boy From Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor is on the shelves. “America’s doctor” has not touched a patient in 40 years and ignores clinicians and researchers acting in good faith who have. When someone writes the accurate history of COVID-19, giving Dr. Fauci his rightful place, I will fill my firepit with that book and have the most enormous bonfire you have ever seen.

Related: Dr. Fauci Accused of Hatch Act Violations