Dr. Anthony Fauci in Washington on Dec. 9, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
The Epoch Times
By Katabella Roberts
Dr. Anthony Fauci has insisted that he is not to blame for millions of Americans having to go into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, but acknowledged that something “went wrong” with the government’s response to the pandemic.
Fauci made the comments in an interview with The New York Times Magazine on April 25 when questioned about the federal government’s “heavy-handed” approach to various health policies implemented throughout the pandemic, and whether were guided by public health concerns or economic, political, and social realities.
“I certainly think things could have been done differently—and better—on both sides,” Fauci said. “I mean, anybody who thinks that what we or anybody else did was perfect is not looking at reality. Nothing was done perfectly. But what I can say is that, at least to my perception—the emphasis strictly on the science and public health—that is what public-health people should do. I’m not an economist.”
Fauci, who headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases until late 2022, went on to state that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “not an economic organization” and the surgeon general is “not an economist” and so officials looked at ways to respond to the pandemic from a “purely public-health standpoint.”
“It was for other people to make broader assessments—people whose positions include but aren’t exclusively about public health. Those people have to make the decisions about the balance between the potential negative consequences of something versus the benefits of something,” Fauci continued.
‘It Wasn’t Fauci’
According to official CDC statistics, more than 1.1 million Americans have died from COVID-19-related conditions.
Throughout the pandemic, the Biden administration has consistently touted vaccinations as helping to lower transmission rates while providing better protection against the virus and rolled out various vaccine mandates.
The mandates proved to be polarizing, to say the least, and many Americans who opted not to get vaccinated ultimately lost their jobs.
The CDC later acknowledged that strong protection was granted by natural immunity after COVID-19 infection after the health agency conducted a study analyzing COVID-19 cases in California and New York in 2021 from May 30 through November of the same year.
That study found that individuals who had not been vaccinated for COVID-19 but were infected previously with the illness were much less likely to test positive for the virus again and also less likely to need hospitalization compared to vaccinated people who had not been infected with COVID-19.
Yet while Fauci, who has since retired from government, admitted that its response to COVID-19 could have been better, he insisted that he himself was not to blame for the economic shutdown during the height of the pandemic that left millions stuck at home.
“But when people say, ‘Fauci shut down the economy’—it wasn’t Fauci. The CDC was the organization that made those recommendations. I happened to be perceived as the personification of the recommendations. But show me a school that I shut down and show me a factory that I shut down. Never. I never did. I gave a public-health recommendation that echoed the CDC’s recommendation, and people made a decision based on that. But I never criticized the people who had to make the decisions one way or the other,” he said.
‘When It Comes to Masking, I Don’t Know’
Elsewhere, Fauci touched upon the subject of masking, which has divided both the public and health experts.
Initially, Fauci told Americans that it was not necessary to wear a face covering before backtracking and supporting their widespread use in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Fauci admitted to The New York Times Magazine that he and other government officials “were not fully appreciative” of the fact that they were dealing with a highly transmissible virus that was spreading in an unprecedented way.
“And so it fooled us in the beginning and confused us about the need for masks and the need for ventilation and the need for inhibition of social interaction,” he said.
“I think anything that instigated or intensified the culture wars just made things worse. And I have to be honest with you when it comes to masking, I don’t know,” he continued. “To be clear: I’m not someone who doesn’t think masks work. I think the science and the data show that they do work, but that they aren’t perfect and that at the population level the effect can be somewhat small.”
Fauci’s comments come shortly after President Joe Biden signed a bill ending the COVID-19 national emergency after three years, although various legal battles regarding masking continue to play out in courts.