Does the substance match the style?
That is a question I have been asking myself about Dr. Anthony Fauci for the last three months.
It came to mind again as I saw Fauci on the cover of InStyle magazine along with a glowing interview by Norah O'Donnell of NBC News.
I won't even get into why Fauci thought it was a good idea to do a cover shot for a magazine like InStyle in the middle of a pandemic.
I guess, as the cover indicates, it is because he is "The Good Doctor."
I wrote this about Fauci on April 13.
I have generally been supportive of Dr. Anthony Fauci who is considered the nation's top infectious disease expert.
He comes across as someone who doesn't mince words and is a pretty straight shooter.
However, I must also admit that I have seen some things that have troubled me when it comes to Dr. Fauci during the Covid-19 crisis.
First, Fauci has had the top job regarding infectious diseases at the National Institute of Health since 1984---36 years.
As people begin to ask whether we should have been better prepared wouldn't the first person that should be questioned regarding that lack of preparation be Dr. Fauci?
Yes, I know he is only a bureaucrat and he doesn't control funding and the like. However, politicians have one million issues (and especially Presidents) on their plates. Fauci had responsibility that included one very big issue---our response to a pandemic. Did he use his platform and his influence effectively to insure we were prepared?
Fauci also seems to have been going out of his way to defend the World Health Organization and China in their responses to the Covid-19 crisis.
Again, I understand that Fauci must have a lot of friends in the WHO and with infectious disease experts in China. However, it would seem to be better to say nothing than defend the actions of the WHO and China in all of this.
The questions about Fauci don't end there.
There is a long list of things that Fauci has said and done that indicates that there is more style than substance about the man.
This is a man who said in February that the risk of a pandemic was relatively low.
He also said at that time that there was not a chance that the United States would lockdown 50 million people as was done in China. I guess you can say he was right. We locked down 300 million people.
He reportedly disagreed with President Trump that a China travel ban was necessary.
He testified before Congress it wasn't his job to determine whether the lockdowns might have been more harmful to the nation than the disease. What? He is supposedly the nation's top expert on public health and infectious diseases. How can that not be part of his job?
In March Fauci told CBS' 60 Minutes that wearing face masks were not helpful and could be harmful.
“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. And, often, there are unintended consequences—people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
Fauci was asked in the InStyle interview about whether he had any regrets about his earlier advice on mask wearing. This was the question and Fauci's response in which he says he does not regret anything.
NO: It’s been recently reminded to us by the White House that you advised against people wearing masks in public, and, of course, that was due to the surge because the concern was about saving PPEs for medical professionals. Do you regret that comment?
A F: No. I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people. That’s what the dialogue was in the task force meetings, which led all of us, not just me but also [U.S. Surgeon General] Jerome Adams, to say, “Right now we really need to save the masks for the people who need them most.” When it became clear that the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers who don’t know they’re infected, that made it very clear that we had to strongly recommend masks. And also, it soon became clear that we had enough protective equipment and that cloth masks and homemade masks were as good as masks that you would buy from surgical supply stores. So in the context of when we were not strongly recommending it, it was the correct thing. But our knowledge changed and our realization of the state of the outbreak changed.
Look at Fauci's response to 60 Minutes. He did not say people should not wear masks because of the need to conserve PPE. He said that they would not be effective.
He also claims that new information subsequently came about that the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers. Fauci seems to claim that this did not become clear until much later than his March statements.
Really? I wonder then how I could have written this on January 26 based on the reports I was getting out of China. How did I know more than Dr. Fauci?
The virus also apparently has a long incubation period (14+ days) before any symptoms manifest themselves. In the meantime, the subject is contagious even if they do not know they are sick. In that 11 million people live in Wuhan it only takes a small percentage of those people to travel elsewhere for the virus to spread.
Of course, it appears that nothing about what has occurred with managing Covid-19 has altered Dr. Fauci's opinion about himself as seen in this pull quote from the interview.
Has Dr. Fauci been effective? Does the substance match the style?
In both April and May Dr. Fauci stated that there was nothing to suggest that the use of hydroxychloroquine could be effective in the treatment of Covid-19.
However, it is now becoming clear that HCQ in combination (with Z-pac and zinc) is the most effective treatment if it is taken soon after symptoms appear.
There there have been 59 studies (39 peer reviewed) involving the use of HCQ in the treatment of Covid-19. Its efficacy, if used early, is becoming more apparent by the day.
You can go here for a summary of the relevant research.
If you want to take a deep dive into the use of HCQ in the treatment of Covid-19 I recommend you read this which is the best compilation of data I have seen on its use.
That includes this chart that compares countries that have extensively endorsed the use of HCQ versus those that have mixed use and countries that did not use it at all.
As the author of the chart says, "it is not proof (that HCQ absolutely works) but it does make you say 'hmmm'.
Fauci never even said 'hmmm'. He just rejected HCQ out of hand.
Dr. David Samadi, a prominent New York City physician, recently tweeted this advice out.
He also tweeted this out which is excellent advice.
Make sure you know all of the possible symptoms of Covid-19.
Dr. Samadi is not alone. In conversations I have had with other doctors they generally all echo the benefits of using HCQ early. Some even wonder what Fauci's motivation might have been to question the use of HCQ.
It has been suggested that Dr. Fauci could have a financial interest in certain drugs or vaccines that might be developed that Fauci has a patent interest in. HCQ is an extremely low cost treatment. Do you see a possible conflict?
I don't know if Fauci has patents associated with possible Covid-19 treatments but he has admitted in the past that various patents developed at the National Institute of Health are registered in his name. He explained that as a government employee he is required by law to put his name on certain patents.
That is true as the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 changed the law that previously made patents developed on work funded by taxpayer money the property of the United States government. At the time of the Bayh-Dole Act, the federal government had patents on 28,000 inventions but few had been commercially licensed due to the federal bureaucracy. It was thought that by allowing universities and other non-profits to retain the intellectual property on the work (and profits) they did on projects funded by federal dollars might provide a better opportunity to turn inventions into commercial applicability and grow the economy.
The thinking was that the federal government might be giving up some patent income in the short term but it would come out ahead in the end with more tax dollars due to greater commercial applicability on this research and development.
It sounds good in theory but has it resulted in other problems? After 40 years is this a subject that should be revisited?
Fauci has claimed in the past that he has felt it was inappropriate to receive payments for these patents and he has donated the royalties he has received to charity.
Interestingly, I have never seen anyone in the media ask Dr. Fauci for a copy of his tax returns to prove that statement. Why not? Plenty of people in the media are worried about Donald Trump's tax returns. How about Dr. Fauci?
Dr. Fauci apparently has learned one thing living in Washington, D.C all these years. If you ingratiate yourself to the media and the D.C. establishment you inoculate yourself against any criticism.
Dr. Fauci has been good at wearing a mask (and I am not talking about for Covid-19) in trying to act as if he is an impartial, objective scientist.
However, he really let the mask slip this past week in showing to everyone that he is not very objective at all. It also seems to show that he is much more concerned about being invited to D.C. cocktail parties and being in InStyle magazine than being considered a person of substance
Consider this story.
When I first saw this headline on Twitter I thought it had to be a joke.
New York did it correctly?
The state that locked down at least two weeks late. The state that did nothing to attempt to stop European travelers from entering the area's airports. The state that put Covid-19 infected people back into nursing homes. The state that vigorously fought attempts to quarantine NYC from the rest of the country. The state that allowed the NYC subway to run 24/7 with no disinfecting for a couple months.
A state that has over 32,000 deaths.
To put that in context, that is twice as many as California, Texas, Florida have COMBINED.
The nation's top infectious disease expert is calling that a success?
All I can say is that I am relieved that other states did not follow the New York model with Covid-19.
This chart compares deaths in New York compared to the states we are now being told are out of control (AZ, CA, GA, FL, TX) on a per capita basis.
Here is another perspective. Perhaps Fauci was just saying that New York was a model in fighting Covid-19 compared to New Jersey.
What is especially telling in all of this is that Dr. Fauci, a man with a lot of style but little substance to point to on Covid-19, is treated as if he was a deity by the media and D.C. establishment.
Donald Trump, a man with little style but who has proven to have a lot of substance and results to show in 3+ years in office, is treated as if he is the devil.
It says a lot about what is important in Washington.
The problem is that we are living in very dangerous and consequential times today.
Style doesn't cut it any more.
It is long past the time that the media masters and D.C. insiders should be the ones deciding what is good and bad for the country.
Everyone is going to have to make a decision this year about whether they want to bet their life, their livelihood and the legacy of this country on style or substance.
It will be a very substantive decision for everyone.