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Should Fauci Resign?


Anthony Fauci is beloved by some Americans, and doubted by others. Given the events of the pandemic to date, should he continue to serve or is it best he resign? I offer three considerations.

First, forget everything about this man. Now ask yourself: Should an 80 year old man run a federal agency in charge of science grant funding for over 30 years? I think the answer is simple: no. As a general rule, these terms should be limited to 5 or 10 or 15 years. Science funding is heavily influenced by our biases and fads. It needs continual change in leadership and vision.

Moreover, there are many deserving candidates. Our institutions should seek to give more of them an opportunity. I would say entirely apart from Fauci, he should have stepped down long ago. An 80-year old holding power for 30 years should be the hallmark of autocracies, not federal science agencies.

Second, the moment he lied, it was over. Even Fauci’s most ardent fans will concede that Fauci lied. He lied about masking, per his own admission. Of course, he claims he did so to protect the mask supply for healthcare workers early in the pandemic. Indeed, if true, that would be a noble lie, and we can all understand why some might forgive him. But surely, we can also understand why many Americans would start to distrust him, as well? A leader in a national crisis has to speak to all Americans and lies make that impossible.

An easy solution would be to resign and pass the baton to someone with a fresh reputation. But, that wasn’t when he lied. The meta-lie is the idea that Fauci was initially deceitful about masking, but later told the truth. That is also a lie. The truth is that Fauci was initially honest about masking, and later, and to this date, lied about the evidence. We summarize all lines of evidence for masking in our recent paper. 

Pre-pandemic the consensus was that masking was unsupported. (This was confirmed by two interviews with Zeb Jamrozik on my channel). That’s the real reason Fauci held his view. He was initially following the evidence. In the course of 6 weeks, and fueled by social media, the push to mask changed, and Fauci reversed himself. He then created a story for why he switched, but admitting to lying was itself a lie. I find this to be problematic.

Third, lab leak. At this point, there is enough evidence to suggest a serious independent investigation into lab leak take place. You cannot conduct such an investigation when the sitting NIAID director is part of the inquiry. Francis Collins has stepped down as NIH director. Fauci should step down as NIAID director to permit others to independently audit grant funding for gain of function research.

Ultimately, unelected leaders should be cognizant of their role. Are they furthering positive change or communication, or has their presence become an impediment? Sometimes the hardest thing is knowing when to step down. In this case, I think the answer is clear.

Republished from the author’s blog

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  • Vinay Prasad

    Vinay Prasad MD MPH is a hematologist-oncologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco. He runs the VKPrasad lab at UCSF, which studies cancer drugs, health policy, clinical trials and better decision making. He is author of over 300 academic articles, and the books Ending Medical Reversal (2015), and Malignant (2020).

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