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It’s time to let go of Anthony Fauci
Allison Bailey/Middle East Images/AFP/Getty Images

It’s time to let go of Anthony Fauci

Monday’s hearings before the House Coronavirus Select Subcommittee made it clear that continued anger at Fauci is distracting us from the bigger issue at hand. It’s also pointless.

I lost my best friend almost exactly four years ago, in the waning days of May 2020. Although I am sure he is listed somewhere as a casualty of the pandemic, the actual story of his death is slightly more complicated.

He suffered all his life from severe Crohn’s disease. He had a bad flare-up at the worst possible time: February 2020, just as pandemic panic was nearing its peak. After a failed surgery that was intended to remove a problematic part of his small intestine, doctors determined that he needed an entirely new small intestine and ordered a small intestine transplant.

Here in 2024, three years after the fact, Fauci has ceased to be a person. He is now a totem.

The hospital that was treating him was not capable of performing this operation, so plans were made to transfer him to another facility. Unfortunately, almost immediately thereafter, my friend caught COVID while in the hospital, and his transfer to another hospital that might have helped him was forever delayed.

Because his condition was so poor at the outset, he had to go on a ventilator for respiratory support for weeks to address the COVID. By the time he recovered from the effects of COVID, his intestines had developed a fistula, and complications of the fistula eventually took his life.

Until the end, he remained conscious and was able to communicate, at least via text message. He was a very social person, and his one complaint about his time in the hospital was that he was not allowed to see anyone.

Day after day he expressed his wish to me to see an actual friendly face who was not a nurse. I wanted to go sit with him. I asked hospital staff if I would be allowed if I signed a waiver or whatever they required so that he would not have to spend what we both knew would likely be the last few weeks of his life alone.

I was refused.

The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the hysterical protocols instituted in response to it, killed my best friend — and worse, made him die alone.

Where does the anger lead?

George Floyd died just a couple of days before my friend did. I barely noticed at the time; I was so consumed by anger and grief over what was happening. My friend’s desire, expressed frequently to anyone who knew him well, was for his ashes to be spread in California, where he always said he was happiest while in college.

As it became clear that COVID-19 protocols would also deny him this last dignity, events in the world at large began to sink in. I watched in amazement and slowly mounting anger as city after city was wracked by throngs of shouting people marching in the streets, with nary a mask in sight and no one telling them to get back inside and isolate.

It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that people were dying alone, deprived of even funerals, for absolutely no scientific reason at all. And it was becoming equally clear around the same time that the official story about where the pandemic came from was likely bogus — or if not bogus, certainly not as scientifically settled as leading lights, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, were making it out to be.

I don’t say all this to ask for pity. My story is merely one of millions like it in America and tens of millions more throughout the world.

My only point is this: I’ve had ample time and opportunity to stew in anger toward the medical establishment in this country and toward Fauci in particular.

And as I watched the debacle unfold before the House Coronavirus Select Subcommittee on Monday, I was seized by only one thought: This is pointless, and it needs to stop.

Getting to the truth

I have my own theories and beliefs about Fauci and his motivations, particularly when it comes to his actions to obfuscate the truth about the origins of the pandemic that has now killed millions. Suffice to say, those theories and beliefs are not flattering. I would like nothing more than for some way to be found to force Fauci to tell the whole, unvarnished truth about what he knew in those early days of the pandemic.

It should be evident by now that no such truth serum exists. And even if it did exist, it would likely only confirm that Fauci was covering his own backside in the possible event that it was discovered that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was responsible for the pandemic. There’s no real way, after all, that Fauci himself could have actually known where the pandemic started.

The reality is this: We had one shot to get an honest look at the evidence, and the World Health Organization responded by sending in a team that featured all the people who stood to gain the most from concluding that the pandemic had a natural origin, including of all people the now-disgraced Dr. Peter Daszak. The chances that the WHO task group was going to reach the truth were zero from the start, just based on how the group was conducted.

But we should not deceive ourselves. Even if honest brokers had been sent to China to investigate, the Chinese government was never going to allow a real investigation, as even the compromised WHO investigatory team was forced to admit. And the Chinese government is certainly not now going to let any actual investigation occur, short of a military invasion, which no country in the world (including the United States) will undertake.

And so we must content ourselves with the evidence we have, which is not enough to reach an ironclad conclusion. It certainly looks suspicious, and I know what I believe is the most likely source of the pandemic outbreak, but I am forced to concede that if I were called upon to prove it in a criminal court, I could not do it.

Forever and always, it seems that the best we will be able to do for ourselves when it comes to asking where the pandemic came from is “probably.” I want nothing more than to know for sure. I have spent more hours looking at this question than perhaps any other question I’ve put my mind to. And “probably” is as far as I can get.

Inept and embarrassing questions

As I watched Monday’s hearings, I was not surprised to learn that I still have plenty of capacity for anger over what has been done to us by the pandemic and also by our government in response to the pandemic.

The content of the hearings, though, made clear that continued anger at Fauci is distracting us from the bigger issue at hand. It’s also pointless. Everyone already knows what they think about Fauci, and those thoughts are likely impenetrable. The only thing more exasperating than the ineptitude of most of Fauci’s Republican interlocutors was the parade of Democrats doing their best impersonation of group of besotted Taylor Swift fans while clearly striving to be Fauci’s biggest white knight for the television cameras.

That this is personal to Fauci himself could not be clearer. Two weeks ago, one of Fauci’s top advisers, David Morens, testified before this same subcommittee about email exchanges in which he clearly advised key players in the potential lab-leak cover-up to hide emails from the public. Morens was unceremoniously blistered by both Republican and Democrat alike, with no less illustrious a right-winger than former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) intoning at one point, “I think you are going to be haunted by your testimony here today. And it’s all on the record.”

Yet, sitting in the same chair, Fauci was summarily excused from responsibility for Morens by the same Democrats based on the facially laughable excuse that he didn’t really get any advice from his senior adviser.

The next virus that escapes from a lab might well be ten or a hundred times more deadly than COVID-19 was.

The number of people who have any sort of nuanced, fact-based view of Fauci and his actions is so small that it might as well be nonexistent. Here in 2024, three years after the fact, Fauci has ceased to be a person. He is now a totem, and which side of the partisan divide you sit on depends on whether you think the deity he represents is evil or benign.

This is a role that Fauci is happy to play, because it obscures the question that he doesn’t want you to ask, which is: Why would Fauci be desperate to cover up a leak from a Chinese lab in the first place? Why would it be important to him that people accept the natural origin theory?

The conventional answer is that he sought to avoid personal and professional embarrassment for having potentially funded the WIV with grant money that his agency approved. That may well play a part, but I don’t think it has played the most significant part in Fauci’s calculus at all.

I think Fauci, who is 83 and was close to retirement even at the beginning of the pandemic, is and always has been much less interested in protecting his own image than he is in protecting the kind of research that may well have caused the lab leak — research that he devoutly believes in.

Research that, without exaggeration, threatens the future of humankind.

I am talking, of course, about gain-of-function research, a phrase that as yet has only pierced the consciousness of the very most online and politically committed individuals.

That is something that needs to change, and it needs to become a nonpartisan issue, because the next virus that escapes from a lab might well be ten or a hundred times more deadly than COVID-19 was.

Dangerous experiments

Fauci, of course, has been a champion of gain-of-function research since long before COVID-19 ever existed. And he has needed to champion it, because before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was bipartisan, ongoing, and constant concern about whether it should be allowed at all.

The controversy first erupted in 2011 when a team of scientists funded by the NIH intentionally created a version of the bird flu that had an astonishing 60% fatality rate and then blithely bragged about it in a paper they sought to publish.

This obviously dangerous experiment touched off a firestorm that might have been contained exclusively to the scientific community if one of the scientists involved in peer review had not flagged a concerned official in the Obama administration. Fauci responded by taking the extraordinary step of co-authoring a Washington Post op-ed defending the need for gain-of-function research.

After years of back-and-forth, the Obama administration finally announced a moratorium on gain-of-function research in 2014, and since that time, Fauci has been fighting a tireless rearguard action to revive public funding for research that makes viruses deadlier. He also, by all accounts, worked with his superior Francis Collins to ensure that researchers were able to find loopholes in the moratorium.

Finally, in 2017, Fauci prevailed upon the Trump administration to lift the moratorium. You would be forgiven for being confused at this point if you’ve followed the modern political discourse, which has suggested that only the ultra MAGAs of the world oppose gain-of-function research.

The reality is the exact opposite: The Democrats were the first to see the danger of this research, and they were right. Republicans reversed them, and they were wrong.

Most of the media is frankly not interested in knowing the particulars of the issue, but they know that Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) seems to be strongly against gain-of-function research, so they assume it must be great. And around and around goes the dumb discourse about the most important issue of the last century.

The real threat

I don’t think we need any more show hearings where Anthony Fauci is alternately yelled at and feted upon. Anthony Fauci is gone. He’s never coming back to government service. By all means, people should argue about his legacy, and that book is definitely not yet closed. I have no problem with heated debate over Fauci’s legacy, but the reality is that Fauci isn’t an ongoing threat.

Gain-of-function research is. And gain-of-function research continues to exist. Worse, it’s continuing to get more and more dangerous. Incredibly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was revealed earlier this year to have begun a new study in 2021 on an even more dangerous avian flu with, incredibly, the Chinese Academy of Sciences — an institution that oversees the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

And this is exactly what Anthony Fauci wants. He truly believes in his heart that it is the right thing for humanity for these risky experiments to go forward. He might even be right. I certainly don’t begrudge him having that opinion.

But what I do begrudge him are his efforts to keep the rest of us ordinary folks out of having an informed say on what he and his colleagues are doing with our tax dollars in the name of research. I do begrudge his dishonest campaign to split hairs with Rand Paul over what his agency has been doing in clear violation of the spirit of both the Obama gain-of-function moratorium and the P3CO framework.

The best way to fight back, though, is not to haul him in front of cameras and yell at him. He seems more or less immune to that, and he certainly at this point cannot be made to say anything he has not already said. Every one of these appearances probably just serves to help some clever businessmen to sell more of those ridiculous shirts with his face on them to his liberal fans.

The best way to fight back is to turn our attention back to where it belongs: on the risky research he’s likely been hoping we’ll forget. Our survival, quite literally, might depend on it.

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Leon Wolf

Leon Wolf

Managing Editor, News

Leon Wolf is the managing news editor for Blaze News.
@LeonHWolf →