Fauci proved no good deed goes unpunished
Good-bye, Dr. Fauci. You did your job while under attack from the worst sort of people.
You devoted more than 50 years to public health. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, you led us through HIV/AIDS, Ebola, COVID, respiratory syncytial virus and, every year, seasonal flu.
You say your “proudest moment” was your work with President George W. Bush on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR is credited with having saved 20 million lives. Twenty million lives.
That doesn’t include the lives saved from your work in the late ’70s and early ’80s developing treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune-related diseases. Several that would have previously been death sentences are now in high remission.
And there was, of course, your guidance on dealing with COVID-19. Many who followed your advice during the initial outbreak with hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing are alive because of it. Many who mocked you are not.
When the COVID vaccine came along, you never tired of urging Americans to obtain it. Over a million Americans died from COVID, but an estimated 234,000 of those deaths could have been prevented if everyone had gotten their shots.
We wonder how many people died because Donald Trump and assorted lowlifes downplayed the disease, peddled phony cures and cast doubts on the vaccine. They may have had fun owning the libs, but they were also killing many of their followers. Why was never clear.
The sickest abuse came from the senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, who perversely accused you of being responsible for millions of deaths. When you told a Senate hearing that this claim led to threats against you and your family, Paul looked back blankly.
Brooklyn tough, you never backed down. That you served seven presidents from both parties didn’t impress the jerks. You let the barrage of boobery splatter all around you as you went about your mission.
But let’s give a respectful hearing to the argument that your recommendations caused harm by hurting the economy. Certainly, the social isolation tied to the shutdowns created its own problems.
I, for one, thought that once a vaccine became widely available, many places stayed closed longer than necessary. Schools, especially, could have resumed in-person learning sooner than they did.
But these decisions were made mostly by state and local governments, not you. Meanwhile, fear of a disease that spread easily, clogged emergency rooms with dying patients and left many of those afflicted with long-time illness was itself enough to empty stores, theaters and libraries.
Your harshest critics clearly didn’t share the value you place on life. You said your saddest period was back in the ’80s when you were treating people with HIV/AIDS and there was no effective therapy.
“We were taking care of very sick, mostly young gay men who were healthy,” you said in a recent interview. “You see every single one of them dying or going to die soon.” All medicine could offer back then was comfort.
Approaching your 82nd birthday and about to leave public service, you still can’t take your eyes off current and new threats.
“We can do things that are very important to mitigate against at least two of them,” you said. That would be COVID and seasonal flu. As we know, there are vaccines for both of them.
We know your first name is Anthony, but you can’t blame us for thinking it’s “Doctor.” And, by the way, you looked great on your farewell interviews.
When the documentaries, movies and operas are written about the COVID era, you will be portrayed as the hero and those who attacked you as creeps. Where should we put your monument?
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.