Obviously, I am a Dr. Fauci skeptic. I often agree with his nemesis, Sen. Rand Paul. Fauci recently admitted that Paul was correct in saying that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology. I reported the study that Paul seemed to be referring to on May 13. It not only specifies funding from NIAID, but it also states explicitly in the acknowledgments:
Experiments with the full-length and chimeric SHC014 recombinant viruses were initiated and performed before the GOF [Gain-of-function] research funding pause and have since been reviewed and approved for continued study by the NIH. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
The NIH not only provided funding, but it also approved a continuation of the research during the pause in gain-of-function research during the Obama administration. It is not clear whether Fauci has ever been asked about the justification for that approval.
After 15 months of nearly daily research, listening to the doctors and researchers that the corporate media and health bureaucracy turned into heretics, and getting censored or forced to retract content based on politicized fact checks, I have hundreds of questions for Dr. Fauci. At this point, the one I am most curious about is how the man who botched the response to the HIV epidemic in colossal ways became the darling of the Left and then became part of leading the nation through a pandemic again.
There are at least three parallels between the HIV epidemic and COVID-19. First, when Dr. Fauci began talking about asymptomatic spread for COVID-19, he created a panic that shut down schools and businesses, put diapers on people’s faces for more than a year, and made many Americans view their fellow citizens as mortal threats. Yet, in January 2020, he told reporters that asymptomatic spread was not a driver of respiratory viruses.
Significant transmission of this kind would be unprecedented. It is not something that drives other respiratory viruses, even other coronaviruses. The assertion requires an extraordinary explanation, which has never been given. It would mean this was a virus where individuals could carry sufficient viral load to transmit without ever suffering symptoms. From the perspective of infectious disease science, this idea is absurd. Yet, Fauci and others still use this assertion to keep unvaccinated citizens in masks indoors and outdoors.
Even a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies contradicts the idea, placing transmission from those who never get sick at 0.7% of cases among household contacts. Those who are presymptomatic and have mild non-specific symptoms make up a far larger share of cases. That is known as prodromal stage spread and it is common to many contagious illnesses. The mitigation is to stay home and get tested when you feel slightly under the weather. The proper policy is not to insist, even today, that young children, who rarely suffer severe illness or death from COVID-19, wear masks at all times in public.
During the HIV crisis in the early 1980s, Dr. Fauci created a similar panic regarding transmission. Fauci speculated that the virus could spread through regular household contact based on detecting the infection in an infant. The media immediately seized on this assertion and created panic and a stigma for those infected.
Perhaps the most famous case of this stigma was Ryan White. He was a hemophiliac diagnosed at 13 after receiving an infected transfusion of a blood-clotting factor to treat his disease. Because of casual transmission fears, he had to fight to return to school following his diagnosis at the age of 13, when the virus was considered terminal.
While White was eventually admitted to school following a legal fight, the stigma, harassment, and threats got so bad that his family moved to another town. Ryan would be my age today, and I recall the panic about casual transmission. People wondered if their fellow citizens were a mortal threat. At the time, other researchers had advanced the idea of blood- and body-fluid routes of transmission based on the evidence provided by the transmission pattern. The media largely ignored them in favor of Dr. Fauci’s more startling speculation during the election season of another Republican president the Left was desperate to defeat.
Ultimately, Dr. Fauci’s colleagues were proven correct, despite having been ignored while attempting to contain the panic. Just like other researchers and academics have been ignored regarding an explanation of so-called asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. They rely on science and data about effective preexisting immunity based on exposure to other coronaviruses circulating in the population. I fully expect these researchers to be vindicated, just as Dr. Fauci’s colleagues in the 1980s were.
During the HIV epidemic, people died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). This syndrome took many forms. The cluster that would become an epidemic began with 41 young homosexual men who developed a rare cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma. The clinical course of these cases was highly atypical. Eventually, there were clusters of other opportunistic infections that typically attacked those with a compromised immune system. One of these was pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). Like Kaposi’s sarcoma, in these clusters, PCP was fatal. It quickly became common in those suffering from AIDS.
Bactrim, a combination antibiotic, was approved by the FDA in 1973. Dr. Walter Hughes successfully treated PCP in people suffering from other conditions that cause defects in T-cell immunity, such as certain types of leukemia, with Bactrim in the 1970s. Frontline doctors began using it with demonstrated benefits in patients suffering from PCP to treat and prevent the infection. Between 1987 and 1989, doctors and activists pleaded with Dr. Fauci to publicize their success broadly using his platform as the unofficial HIV czar to save lives.
According to Sean Strub, author of Body Counts, A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, Fauci’s attitude toward existing treatments with known efficacy and safety was difficult to understand:
Fauci refused to acknowledge the evidence and, according to one account, even encouraged people with AIDS to stop taking treatments, like Bactrim, that weren’t specifically approved for use in people with AIDS. Longtime treatment activist Richard Jefferys wrote in 2001 that Fauci “went as far as telling activists attending a 1987 meeting that there was no data to suggest PCP prophylaxis was beneficial and that it may, in fact be dangerous.” Fauci’s close colleague, Dr. Samuel Broder, who was head of the National Cancer Institute, even suggested — in the absence of any evidence at all — that the newly introduced antiretroviral, AZT, would make prophylaxis against PCP redundant!
Lack of specific approval is not a reason to withhold a safe and effective drug to treat symptoms of an underlying illness. Many illnesses can cause fluid retention. A class of medications called diuretics is used to correct that symptom. The same goes for inflammation, blood clots, and other symptoms. In acute cases, you often treat symptoms before you ever know what the underlying illness is. Besides, Bactrim had already been used for the specific pneumonia AIDS patients were suffering from under similar conditions of immunosuppression.
According to the last treatment guideline update on HIV.gov, TMP/SMX, the generic form for Bactrim, is the recommended prophylactic for PCP in patients who have HIV. AZT, still available in combination therapies, had a disastrous rollout and the original studies were deeply flawed. Documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request demonstrated that the outcome criteria were changed during the study. In the two-year period when activists and treating physicians advocating Bactrim were ignored or forced to network outside official channels, nearly 17,000 AIDS patients died of PCP.
Now, imagine a world where the new virus strain is circulating through a more straightforward transmission route, like respiratory droplets, where Dr. Fauci is considered the de facto expert on everything. Oh wait, that is the world you have been living in since last January. Doctors have been advocating treatment protocols that appear to have success in their practices, using safe and effective drugs, since last spring.
Pulmonologist Dr. Thomas Yadegar, ICU director of Providence Cedars-Sinai, reported success with a protocol for hospitalized patients admitted to ICU that kept patients from being placed on a ventilator. The hospital used existing medications to treat the clinical presentation of what he called a cytokine storm, basically an overreaction of the immune system that can be fatal and seemed to be present in severe COVID-19. That was never mentioned in a White House Task Force briefing or put on the treatment guidelines.
Dr. Zev Zelenko had success keeping people out of the hospital using aggressive outpatient therapy with a combination of generic drugs that included hydroxychloroquine during the Orthodox Jewish community outbreak in New York City. Rand Paul asked Dr. Fauci if steroids might alleviate some symptoms of severe COVID-19. Dr. Fauci scoffed. If you want a comprehensive and detailed view of just how bizarre the response to treatment of COVID-19 was, I can’t recommend this interview with Dr. Peter McCullough strongly enough.
In that interview and others, McCullough said that doctors using drugs proven safe and effective to treat and alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19 are forced to network outside the established channels. This communication has been challenging during lockdowns. It also leaves the public in the dark and creates even more panic when people don’t know there is treatment available. When he testified before Sen. Ron Johnson’s committee in December, McCullough and his colleagues expressed frustration with the NIH continuing to ignore their data and with the complete lack of any focus on outpatient treatment as part of the pandemic response.
This hearing took place right before the highest peak of infections this winter. It sounded eerily reminiscent of the recollections of the doctors and activists promoting Bactrim for AIDS treatment. And the clinical trial, emergency use authorization, and inclusion of Remdesivir on the treatment plan echo AZT. It was based on a single placebo-controlled trial. The outcome criteria were changed during the course of the trial run by the NIH, and studies conducted by the WHO could not replicate the reduced length of hospitalization results. The agency recommended against its use in November 2020. Yet, it is still the only anti-viral recommended by the NIH.
The only treatment now approved for outpatient care by the NIH as of May 14, 2021, is monoclonal antibodies like the Regeneron President Trump received in October 2020. Until this change, the guidelines recommended no treatment for outpatients unless they needed oxygen. I reported in February that HHS had set up infusion centers and a website for at-risk outpatients to locate treatment. Fauci never said anything to the nation about the treatment until his press conference on Tuesday.
Dr. McCullough, Dr. Harvey Risch of Yale, and others have asserted that if the health care bureaucracies had embraced the outpatient treatment guidelines that showed clear signs of benefit across multiple observational studies, COVID-19 deaths could have been reduced by 50% — just like the senseless deaths from PCP in the 1980s. Someone should really ask Dr. Fauci about his persistent disdain for safe, effective, and inexpensive generic drugs. There might be an interesting answer or two.
But perhaps most importantly, we should ask why this man, who was wrong about everything in the 1980s, continued to be promoted and was tapped to lead a second pandemic. Then we should insist on term limits for bureaucrats, even more fervently than we do for politicians.