Dr. Anthony Fauci and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) had a tense exchange earlier this week during a congressional hearing. Jordan was insistent that he wanted objective measures from Fauci to guide lifting the restrictions many Americans are still living with, such as masking, social distancing, and limited gatherings. Over a year after the pandemic began, this seems like a perfectly reasonable request, but Fauci would not provide any details. It was not a good look.
To do damage control, Fauci is making the rounds on the Sunday shows—except for Fox News. This evening, he will be interviewed by Matthew McConaughey to “separate fact from fiction” about vaccines in an NBC special called “Roll Up Your Sleeves.” President Biden, the Obamas, several sports figures, and Hollywood actors will also appear. Because, as we all know, when politicians and famous people tell Americans to do something, they automatically comply.
Sunday’s first media appearance is pretty astounding, given that Dr. Fauci did not sit with Chris Wallace on Fox this morning. CNN’s Dana Bash cited a poll and remarked on Republican vaccine hesitancy and how frustrating it must be for Fauci. So frustrating, apparently, that he didn’t appear on the news network most of them watch. Basically, he answers that Republicans are working against their preferred outcome and should get vaccinated if they want restrictions lifted. Maybe he is unaware that the restrictions are lifted in many red states, and they are doing just fine.
Dr. Fauci responds to Rep. Jim Jordan’s claims that covid restrictions assault American’s liberties.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 18, 2021
Fangirl Bash complimented Fauci on his restraint in the exchange with Jordan and asked if he wants to say what he was really thinking. Fauci responded with the same disregard for any balancing of risk that he did with Jordan:
It was very clear that he [Jordan] was talking about liberties being restricted. This has nothing to do with liberties Dana. We’re talking about that 560,000 people in our country have died. We’re talking about 60,000 to 70,000 new infections per day. That’s the issue. This a public health issue, it’s not a civil liberties issue.
Shut up, plebes, this is for your own good or something.
On ABC, Martha Raddatz, after noting Republican vaccine hesitancy, asked Fauci how he could depoliticize the vaccine. Are you sensing a trend? Then she fretted over herd immunity, a supposedly taboo subject. Fauci responded:
That will be a problem, Martha, if we get a substantial proportion of people not getting vaccinated. What we are doing is we’re trying to get by a community corps, trusted messages that anyone would feel comfortable with listening to. Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or whomever you are that you’re comfortable. These are people in the community. They could be sports figures, they could be entertainers, they could be clergy, they could be people that the community trusts.
.@MarthaRaddatz presses Dr. Anthony Fauci over concerns of politicization leading to vaccine hesitancy: “How do you depoliticize the vaccine?”
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 18, 2021
How about we trust our own doctors, who take care of patients and aren’t political themselves? The media largely silenced the voices of these experts over the last year, and if you speak to them, many disagree with Fauci on the need to vaccinate everyone. Very few are willing to speak publicly. The notable exception is Hooman Noorchashm, M.D., Ph.D.
On Face the Nation, Fauci talked about the need for the U.S. to participate in the global vaccination effort after Margaret Brennan asked about rising cases in other nations. He also advocated for vaccinating high school students in the fall and elementary school students in the first quarter of 2022.
He is talking about putting vaccines—defined as investigational while operating on an emergency use authorization—into the arms of people in an age group that rarely suffer from severe illness. Why? Current CDC data shows 5,800 breakthrough infections in 77 million vaccinated adults. In what world does vaccinating children make sense with no longitudinal data? If COVID-19 were killing children in large numbers, that would be one thing. But children under the age of ten rarely transmit it.
On Meet the Press, Chuck Todd gets a smidge of credit for asking Fauci why vaccinated people need to wear masks. Fauci said you “dramatically diminish” possible Covid infection with a vaccine, but vaccinated people can still carry infection. If you don’t have a mask, you might inadvertently infect others.
TODAY: @chucktodd: “Why does a vaccinated person have to wear a mask?”
Dr. Fauci: “You dramatically diminish” possible Covid infection with a vaccine, but vaccinated people could still carry infection.
“If you don’t have a mask, you might inadvertently infect” others. pic.twitter.com/pATPWCm65T
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) April 18, 2021
If the vaccines work in the vast majority of cases, as new CDC data indicates, vaccinated individuals may end up with dead viruses in their noses. That is how the immune system works. It is also why the CDC acknowledges that testing recovered patients for 12 weeks post-infection is useless. The agency says that recovered patients and vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to a COVID-19 patient unless they develop symptoms. If that’s not the case, then COVID-19 would be the first respiratory virus in history where a person can carry a viral load sufficient to transmit without suffering symptoms.
This phantom asymptomatic superspreader meme has got to end. The CDC never breaks out the asymptomatic spread and prodromal spread, which occurs early in an illness before specific symptoms appear. The latter is common in respiratory disease transmission. The former is not, yet they lump the two together and say they are responsible for 50% of disease transmission, keeping the meme alive.
Fauci also talked about variants as a reason to wear masks after vaccination. Do you know what viruses do all the time? Mutate. If variants of COVID-19 that may not respond to vaccines are the issue, we can never take them off. So far, not a single variant has shown this magical capability in large numbers. And Fauci busts that reasoning in his next appearance.
On MSNBC, Jonathan Capehart replayed the exchange between Fauci and Jordan and then asked how Fauci overcomes deniers like Jordan. Fauci said:
You know, Jonathan, you try as best as you can to explain and hopefully the people see the distinction there. What I was talking about, and I articulated that during my response to this question. When we’re dealing with a public health issue where 560,000 in this country have died, and we have 60,000 to 70,000 new infections each day, this is a public health issue. It’s not a civil liberties issue.
So I don’t see how you can equate those two. We’re talking about saving the lives of individuals. And we’re not talking about putting constraints on forever.
Jordan was pressing Fauci on what objective metric could be used to remove restrictions, not denying the virus or dismissing the deaths. Fauci never answered the question. And if he is hanging his hat on the idea of variants and the asymptomatic superspreader, those threats will never go away. And none of these precautions show significant differences in results between the states that employed them and the states that did not.
The narrative is reaching the level of what would be a comedic absurdity were it not so infuriating. And tonight’s prime-time special will not include the tough questions Dr. Fauci still needs to answer.