Retiring U.S. chief infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony S. Fauci told us over the weekend that he’s just shocked by what he calls China’s pointlessly “draconian” Zero Covid policy to defeat the CCP Virus. And the Biden administration has been critical, too. To which the only reasonable response is, “Seriously?”
Not that Zero Covid hasn’t been an epic fail by Chinese dictator Xi Jinping. But the criticism from Fauci and the Biden presidency sure looks like the pot calling the kettle black.
If you’re skeptical, here’s Fauci’s response to a question noting perceptively that “you’re seeing things that we saw in this country when people didn’t like how Covid response — What is going on in China, and why do they seem to be in a worse place than anyone else in the world?”
“[T]heir approach has been very, very severe and rather draconian in the kinds of shutdowns without a seeming purpose. I mean, if you’re having a situation, if you can recall, you know, almost three years ago when we were having our hospitals overrun, you remember the situation in New York City, you had to do something immediately to shut down that flow. So remember we were talking about flattening the curve and the social distancing and restrictions and shutdown, which was never really complete, is done for a temporary period of time for the purpose of regrouping, getting more personal protective equipment, getting people vaccinated. It seems that in China it was just a very, very strict extraordinary lockdown where you lock people in the house but without any seemingly endgame to it.”
No one can reasonably criticize any public official for urging extreme and sweeping anti-virus measures during the pandemic’s early days – before its nature and especially its highly granular lethality (overwhelmingly concentrated in seniors and others with major health problems) were understood. For it could have been like the Black Death.
But of course Fauci, the rest of the official public health establishment, and left-of-center leaders like Biden, were championing these policies long after these patterns became known.
And more important, when it comes to comparing U.S. policies during his tenure with Chinese policies today, Fauci’s claim that he was only urging “social distancing and restrictions and shutdown” essentially until vaccination was widespread ignores his stated belief in March, 2020 that “It will take at least a year to a year in a half to have a vaccine we can use.” And of course getting enough arms jabbed to turn the CCP Virus tide was always going to take months more even if the rollout went perfectly (which was far from the case). And what if the vaccines were major flops?
So Fauci himself clearly felt that pretty draconian policies – despite their devastating impact on the economy, on education, and on Americans’ mental health – would be needed over a very long haul. Therefore, when it counted, his differences with the approach taken recently by China (which lacks vaccines even as effective as America’s imperfect – especially against transmission – versions) was one of degree, not of kind.
Just as bad, as with Xi Jinping, this conviction of Fauci’s didn’t seem to be greatly affected by the proven potential of natural immunity per se to help end the pandemic (especially as variants, predictably, became more infectious but less lethal), or by the emerging evidence of sharp limits (to put it diplomatically) to the utility of social distancing in and of itself, and masking – and even of widespread lockdowns themselves.
Fauci’s declaration that “a prolonged lockdown without any seeming purpose or end game to it…really doesn’t make public health sense” comes way too late to impact America’s strategy during the pandemic era. But hopefully it will dissuade both politicians and the public health establishment from repeating these grave mistakes when the next pandemic – inevitably – comes the nation’s way.