Dr. Anthony Fauci is finally telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has flip-flopped on masks, repeatedly declared that draconian lockdowns were necessary (even at the cost of destroying the economy) and dismissed worries that shutting down schools would have disastrous effects on school-aged children.
But now he admits he and his team “botched” certain aspects of how to handle COVID-19 after it hit the U.S. in March 2020.
“We didn’t know masks worked outside of the hospital setting. There was supposedly a shortage of good masks for the people who were taking care of individuals,” the doctor said in an interview that aired last week at the Texas Tribune Festival.
Dr. Fauci began the pandemic by saying in March 2020, “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,” the doctor said on CBS News.
Then, in January 2021 — long after it was clear masks at least help —Dr. Fauci said wearing two masks is likely more effective than wearing one. “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,” he told NBC News.
Dr. Fauci also admitted at the festival that he knew the “draconian” COVID-19 policies he advocated would lead to “collateral negative consequences” for the “economy” and for “schoolchildren.” But he had more blame to deflect, citing the “divisiveness” of “social media” for his flip-flopping.
“When you have a divisiveness in society where every time you say something, you have X number of people with social media looking to attack it, that adds to the understandable confusion when you’re dealing with an evolving outbreak,” Dr. Fauci said.
And he defended the draconian lockdowns he advocated. “Of course, when you make recommendations, if the primary goal when you’re dealing with a situation where the hospitals were being overrun in New York, intensive care units were being put in hallways, you have to do something that’s rather draconian,” the doctor said.
“Sometimes when you do draconian things, it has collateral negative consequences, just like when you shut things down, even temporarily, it does have deleterious consequences on the economy, on the schoolchildren. You know that,” he said.
Dr. Fauci said, though, that there was a method to the madness.
“If you shut things down just for the sake of it, that’s bad,” he said, adding, “But if you do it with the purpose of being able to regroup so that you can then open up in a more safe way, that’s the best way to do it.”
In more Fauci news, a new book captures the doctor’s cavalier attitude in the early days of the pandemic, and his clear hubris about the power he has to make all those silly elected politicians bend to his will.
“Vignettes & Vino,” by former White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern, a deputy press secretary for President Donald Trump, and his wife, Teresa, details how Dr. Fauci acted in those early days.
“[I]n January 2020, [Fauci] said the virus was nothing to worry about for the American people. Then in the months that followed, he said that people should not wear masks and that they were ineffective. By June or July, he had changed his tune and said everyone should be very concerned and that they should wear multiple masks — and goggles,” Mr. Morgenstern wrote, according to the New York Post.
“I vividly recall my blood boiling during an infuriating meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, when Fauci laughed about his own goggles comment, making it clear how cynical he was and that he could get people to believe anything,” the former aide continued.
“He went on to laugh about how ‘ass-backwards’ it was that people entered a restaurant wearing a mask, then sat down and conversed with people without a mask. Of course, he wasn’t saying things to that effect publicly, just laughing privately at the American rubes he was fooling,” Mr. Morgenstern wrote.
Although Dr. Fauci allegedly laughed about his own goggles comment, he told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, sure, use ‘em. “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” Dr. Fauci told Ashton in July 2020. “It might, if you really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces.”
Dr. Fauci pushed masks for everyone everywhere, but then he showed up to throw the first pitch out at a Washington Nationals game with a mask halfway down his face.
Dr. Fauci, 81, will retire in December after 38 years as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. And he‘ll draw the highest federal pension of any government employee — more than President Biden.
But at least he has said one true thing: He and his team “botched” the U.S. response to COVID-19.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.