During the covid-19 pandemic Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, became the go-to expert about the virus. Since then, he has remained a major media presence and a hero to some. The popularity of Fauci caused Chris Cillizza, editor-at-large of CNN, to call the situation in 2020 the Fauci “cult.”
In 2020, there was even an Iowa-based clothing company called Raygun that sold “Dr. Fauci is my hero” T-shirts and one with the words “In Fauci We Trust” on the front. Add to this, the company also sold Fauci cupcakes, Fauci donuts, and Fauci votive candles.
Fauci still remains in the news. But while some praise him, he’s also being attacked for his work as a public servant, something that is considered by some to be a precursor to a fascist state. Is all the attention of Fauci, even will his numerous missteps and misreadings of the pandemic, all white privilege?
Here are six reasons to be skeptical about the hero worship of Dr. Fauci.
1. He severely and catastrophically underestimated the pandemic
Many U.S. health experts–Dr. Fauci included– underestimated the coronavirus virus until it was too late. An in-depth examination by Kaiser Health News (KHN) in 2020 found that “many leading infectious disease specialists underestimated the fast-moving outbreak in its first weeks and months, assuming that the United States would again emerge largely unscathed,” KHN reported.
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2. He first said wearing mask didn’t work but then flip flopped
At the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., Fauci did not recommend wearing masks as a form of prevention or protection. In fact, then-President Donald Trump claimed Fauci made a mistake by advising people not to wear masks.
“I get along very well with Anthony,” Trump said. “But he did say, ‘Don’t wear masks.’ He did say, as you know, “This is not going to be a problem.”
Trump added, “But Anthony said, “Don’t wear masks.” Now he wants to wear masks. Anthony also said, if you look back, exact words, here’s his exact words: “This is no problem. This is going to go away soon.” So he’s allowed to make mistakes. He happens to be a good person.’”
Fauci and several other U.S. health experts advised people not to wear masks, CNN reported. Fauci later advised the general public to wear.
His explanation, “we were not aware that 40 to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask.”
3. Fauci supported gain of function research,, particularly China’s Wuhan Lab
Gain-of-function research involves genetically engineering bacteria and viruses so that they can be grown or selectively bred to enhance certain biological functions, including to become more virulent or transmissible.
The research is a must for understanding how a pathogen adapts to environmental pressures, allowing disease control measures to be better planned, and potential vaccines and therapies to be explored, according to News Medical.
But the research is controversial. Researchers studying viruses in the lab sometimes deliberately make the viruses more dangerous to help better prepare for outbreaks that might occur naturally. The top U.S. immunologist, Fauci, claimed the U.S. didn’t support gain-of-function research. He also claimed that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) did not fund gain-of-function research at China’s Wuhan lab.
However, documents from Wuhan, if correct, could prove that Fauci’s statements about gain-of-function research were untruthful.
Documents obtained by The Intercept prove that U.S. grants were given to EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit that funneled federal funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research.
4. U.S. death count is high
In 2020, Fauci admitted that coronavirus deaths were being undercounted, but he still didn’t think the discrepancy was significant. Although, studies later proved there was a major inaccuracy. People in majority-Republican counties experienced 73 more deaths from covid-19 per 100,000 people than those in majority-Democratic counties, according to a June 2022 study by a team led by University of Maryland researchers analyzed, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
“Political ideology has long been known to affect health-related behaviors, attitudes, and risk perception,” the researchers wrote. “At the root of conservative ideologies is the notion that health is an individual responsibility that government should have little to no power in regulating or intervening. Conversely, liberal ideologies have often promoted the role of government to enforce stricter public health regulations to protect the health of citizens over the right of individuals to make their own choices.”
“I think there’s more of a chance of missing some that are really coronavirus deaths that are not being counted,” he said in 2020, The Washington Post reported, “but I don’t think that number is significant enough to really substantially modify the trends that we’re seeing at all.”
5. If Dr. Fauci was Black, he would have never been considered an American hero, especially after big mistakes
6. Fauci’s net worth increased
After so much death, over 1 million Americans dead, Dr. Fauci is worth more than $12.6 million, still found a way to profit with book deal. Fauci’s net worth nearly doubled during the pandemic. The Fauci household net worth increased by $5 million between 2019 and 2021, the nonprofit OpenTheBooks reported. In 2021, Fauci faced backlash for “profiting from pandemic” after the announcement of his new book, “Expect the Unexpected: Ten Lessons on Truth, Service, and the Way Forward.,” Newsweek reported. The book was published in November 2021.
Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona criticized the news of Fauci’s book on Twitter, “Profiting from the pandemic with a book deal is truly a new low,” he wrote.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a press briefing at the White House, Nov. 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)