Opinion

Why We Should Question Fauci’s Expertise on Managing COVID-19

|
Posted: Nov 19, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Mainstream media outlets are all too happy to interview Dr. Anthony Fauci as an “infectious disease specialist.” They find his big government solutions that cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas most pleasing. He wants us to wear masks forever, even though he once said they weren’t any good back in the spring.

It’s true that Fauci plays a doctor on these TV shows. But we have good reasons to believe that he is only acting rather than actually being a responsible physician. And it is only a low-information public that allows the MSM to get away with pushing his advice. To set the record straight, let’s put some basic facts on the table.

Anthony Fauci did go to medical school where he earned his MD degree, just like I did. He went through a residency program, just like I did. And he passed his specialty board exams, just like I did. That’s where our resemblance ends. I spent another 32 years taking care of patients, both in the operating room and the intensive care unit. Fauci did nothing of the kind.

After his residency, Anthony Fauci put on a different white coat and went into the virology laboratory. He stopped practicing clinical medicine in order to investigate the minutiae of viruses with microscopes and biomolecular markers. In this honorable pursuit, he explored genomes, spike proteins, and binding sites. Indeed, he advanced our knowledge of how viruses interact with human cells, from binding to replication to release of new virus particles. He used RT-qPCR as a tool in exploring those questions, so he understands its use in research. He also understands that it is not a proper tool for patient diagnosis or treatment, even though he pushed it for that use.

Fauci also does not have material clinical experience in the management of patients with viral diseases. That’s the province of real Infectious Disease specialists, not virologists. While Fauci trained in Internal Medicine just like the ID guys, and ID treats patients with viruses (as well as bacteria), ID and virology are very different. ID guys figure out treatment protocols but are still a step or two removed from experience that is useful in making public recommendations on managing an epidemic. Those steps don’t even require an MD degree, although many in the field have it.

Once we know we have a disease affecting the public, it’s time for the Epidemiologists. These are people who look at how a disease is spreading in a population. Is it primarily through male homosexual sex, like HIV? Is it passed via aerosols in close quarters with stale air like H1N1 flu? Is it inherited like sickle cell anemia or Huntington’s Chorea? In every case, epidemiologists were the ones who tracked down the way each disease was passed from one person to another. As I noted before, epidemiology is a research discipline that doesn’t necessarily involve medical school. But figuring out how to stop the spread takes one more specialty.

Public Health is Epidemiology in action. It is a different course of study from medicine, and the basic degree is a Master’s in Public Health. MPHs take the information that is known from virology, infectious disease, and populations to engineer plans to “mitigate” epidemics. This is radically different from Biden’s “plan” to “crush the virus.” There’s no way to do that. Once COVID-19 got loose “in the wild,” attempts to block its spread had as much chance of success as using a chain link fence to stop mosquitoes.

What MPHs can do is effective track-and-trace work to identify and isolate hot spots in the early stages of an epidemic. They can recommend various ways to protect the aged and infirm, such as spending time outdoors and avoiding anyone with signs of disease. What they cannot do is guarantee success in those efforts. All they can do is “mitigate,” a fancy word that means “make not so bad.” With a potentially lethal disease, some people will still die. There just won’t be as many that assume room temperature.

So let us compare Anthony Fauci with Carl Heneghan. Dr. Heneghan is a practicing Family Physician and Epidemiologist. He is the Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University. In short, unlike Fauci, he is the very model of what we should seek in an advisor when we’re trying to manage an epidemic.

Fauci is adamant about masks (even though he doesn’t wear one when he thinks no one is looking). He is currently promoting a nationwide mask mandate. Heneghan is quite blunt in his assessment that there is no evidence that masks will have any effect on the spread of COVID-19. Who’s right?

The CDC reviewed fourteen peer-reviewed studies on airborne disease spread and found no benefit from mask wearing. Other studies have suggested that some masks can actually increase risk. It seems that Heneghan is right and Fauci is wrong.

One other mandate foisted on us is “social distancing.” Fauci pushed for this early on, ignoring the data that proximity was meaningless unless the time of exposure, size of the space, and recirculation of air were considered. As Dr. Heneghan notes, “There is no scientific evidence to support the disastrous two-metre rule.” In fact, there is evidence that such a rule (two meters is about six feet) may actually be harmful.

Hormesis is a description of your body’s response to stress. Small stresses exercise your innate responses, making you ready to handle bigger stresses. Until you reach some overwhelming level of stress, what didn’t kill you made you stronger. We know this is true with viruses. Low levels of exposure are likely to give you immunity without you ever getting sick. Later on, if you do get a large exposure, you aren’t likely to get sick. But you got the low level exposure by not observing social distancing rule. It would seem that Fauci is batting a thousand.

On a final point, Heneghan notes that shutdowns don’t work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But they do increase poverty, which is the deadliest disease known.

I won’t belabor the multitude of Fauci’s incorrect pronouncements. Rather, it’s time for us to get serious about the epidemic. We know how to protect the aged and infirm, and it’s not by locking healthy people up, hiding them behind masks, and keeping them from enjoying their community. Vaccines will help defend them, but even then, some will become ill and die. Ultimately, we have to recognize that we simply cannot “crush the virus.” It doesn’t obey us. Rather, we need to get America back to work and get through the epidemic, recognizing that while it won’t be pretty, it won’t destroy us, either.