Neither the political left nor the political right understands Anthony Fauci. To the left, Fauci is a patron saint to be thanked and worshipped. They fashion candles, hymns and magazine covers after him. They canonize him much the same way they canonized Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though I suspect that if you stopped them on the street and asked for details of a Ginsburg opinion, they would come up empty beyond screaming “Notorious RBG.” Anthony Fauci is venerated much the same way.
The right has compared Fauci to Nazi ministers of information, a Luciferian demigod drunk on pandemic power, a liar and hypnotist willing to do anything to retain his newfound celebrity and near-total grip on pandemic messaging — a grip that only solidified after Joe Biden’s presidential election. This Fauci is the subject of sloppy Fox News talking points that are meant to outrage.
The truth is slightly more nuanced but it’s also a bit more terrifying. Fauci does not believe himself to be doing the work of either the left or the right. He lives on a completely different plane of understanding, and he knows it. Anthony Fauci is a man of science. He believes himself to be the spokesperson for “science itself,” as he states when he is attacked by people like Senator Rand Paul. Fauci responds to these attacks incredulously and rather defensively — not because he’s insulted on an emotional level, but because he genuinely believes he is the science, which can never be questioned and can never be wrong. Even when the science kills sixteen million people worldwide.
“Science” has become a cartoonish object of pop-culture worship in the last decade. As the media has exchanged facts for narratives, it has swapped actual scientists and climatologists for celebrities and children. In the public sphere, Science is more a virtue signal in online profiles and a mark of aspiration and acceptance than it is a field of study and knowledge of, say, climate, anatomy or even epidemiology. Instead of explanations from scientists, we get lectures from actors like Bill Nye and Leonardo DiCaprio, or truant teenagers like Greta Thunberg. Science is a PR message.
The endless media worship of Anthony Fauci is the culmination of this. He resisted it in his first casting as a glorified antagonist to Donald Trump, hiding his anguished brow during press briefings. But he seems to have realized that his inflated status was a convenient cover to avoid answering questions about his larger role in the pandemic, specifically his relationships with EcoHealth Alliance, its head Peter Daszak, his friends at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its bosses in the government of China.
Fauci knows that he will not be questioned about any of these delicate matters when he appears on friendly cable networks and Sunday morning shows. The hosts and anchors largely agree with his exalted status in the culture at large, and who would dare question Science itself? When it’s only Republican committee members throwing Fox News soundbites at him, he and the rest of Fauci-friendly media can simply write them off as “Republican attacks.” This is the public space in which Anthony Fauci and his friends and colleagues, including Daszak and the outgoing head of the National Institute of Health, Francis Collins, have operated without supervision for years. This is why they are dangerous.
The response to the pandemic has radically transformed the working and social lives of everyday people all over the world. Anthony Fauci and his colleagues view this as the scientific process — even if it’s a process they most likely started and manipulated. Every new discovery, and every new step down the path of pandemic response, furthers that process — even if it results in mass death, economic destruction, a lost generation of schoolkids and permanent masking for the survivors.
In 2012, Fauci wrote an article for the journal of the American Society for Microbiology. His topic was the study and manipulation of zoonotic (naturally occurring) coronaviruses to increase their transmissibility in human beings: the now-notorious “gain-of-function” research. “In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic?” he mused. “Scientists working in this field might say — as indeed I have said — that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks.” Fauci warned of accidental outbreaks and called for more transparency in gain-of-function studies.
The possibility that manipulating zoonotic viruses presented calculable risks to the planet did not stop this research. Nor did it quell Fauci’s insatiable scientific mind. In the same year, Fauci’s department, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) worked directly with the Department of Defense on dual-use research of concern (DURC). Much like gain-of-function research, DURC involves manipulating viral protein spikes in an effort to weaponize them. And herein lies the problem for Anthony Fauci. To this day, he evades questions about his personal knowledge of these researches, while insisting that they fall short of the technical definition of gain-of-function.
Most likely, the Sars-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus was produced or manipulated in a Chinese government laboratory with a dual-use civilian and military virology program — and with United States grant money. The lab-leak theory, once stigmatized as a conspiracy theory, has now gained mainstream worldwide acceptance — except with Anthony Fauci, Francis Collins and Peter Daszak, who all still endorse a zoonotic origin and a natural jump between species. When a viral pandemic broke out, epidemiologists were forced to scramble to develop a vaccine for a virus that they themselves created. As Jeff Goldblum’s character said in Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” To understand Anthony Fauci is to understand that this is his career’s work. The enormity of that goes far beyond Twitter hashtags and cable news monologues. We might conclude that the pandemic is the predictable result of human beings screwing around with nature’s source code — so predictable that even the CIA foresaw it.We might hope that Covid is a once-in-a century event, an almost unfathomable accident. We might fear that, because the pandemic response is hard to process on a day-to-day level, it’s simply the end. We would be grievously mistaken.
When Frankenstein’s monster broke out of his dungeon and wrought havoc on the village below, killing scores, the doctors did not attempt to stop the carnage. They simply watched, studied it and wondered what they could learn. Medical bureaucrats like Anthony Fauci are just getting started. Sixteen million deaths are simply another opportunity for new funding: more research, more viral tinkering, more genetic splicing, more protein manipulation, all of it creating the material for the next pandemic, that can then be fixed by the federal government’s partner, Big Pharma.
Anthony Fauci is the federal government’s highest-paid employee. In 2020, he received $434,312: more than President Biden ($400,000) or a four-star general ($282,000). A servant of the state does not achieve that kind of success without knowing where some of the bodies are buried. That includes fostering international relationships far beyond the purview of simple peer-reviewed scientific study and epidemiology. It includes knowing where federal grant money went. That includes approving its allocation to gain-of-function research first in the US and then, through Peter Daszak and EcoHealth Alliance, in China.
When Anthony Fauci retires, he will receive $350,000 a year: the largest federal retirement pension of any government employee in American history. However, Fauci has stated he has no plans to retire until the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. Fauci has not stated what that rearview might look like. He has not endorsed the idea of endemicity — learning to live with a virus by adjusting our habits. Dr. Fauci thinks he can still control things.
Dr. Fauci still speaks on behalf of Science. In December 2021, Fauci went on record in the New England Journal of Medicine. Covid-19, he wrote, is likely not going to be eliminated: the current crop of vaccines are too limited to prevent variants from emerging. Fauci and two colleagues, Dr. David Morens and Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger, endorsed ramping up the research and development of one universal vaccine. The National Institutes of Health has committed more than $35 million for such research. This includes the new sequencing of genomes and a collaborative effort to collect samples from animals such as bats and raccoons. NBC News called Fauci’s endorsement a “clarion call and blueprint for scientists.” History, like the scientific method, repeats itself. And who are we to question the votaries of Science?
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s February 2022 World edition.