by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden should relieve Dr. Anthony Fauci of his duties at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as chief medical adviser to the White House, and as the public face of the American government’s response to Covid-19.
It is past time for public-health policy to shift to acknowledging that Covid-19 is an endemic disease and, for the most part, a risk for individuals to manage. Fauci stands in the way of executing that shift and communicating it to the public.
Fauci’s own behavior has undermined public trust in the response to the pandemic: by sitting for celebrity puff profiles and documentaries, by stifling public debate about the origins of Covid-19 and the proper response to it, by responding in lawyerly and evasive fashion to questions about NIH research dollars supporting work at the Wuhan lab. In his nasty spats with Senator Rand Paul and other officeholders, he hasn’t simply parried criticisms but tried to land political blows himself.
It has always been bizarre that the head of an obscure agency has soaked up so much media attention. Over the past two years, Fauci has done so many interviews with so many outlets — from Sunday shows to obscure podcasts — that one wonders how he had time for his day job. Nearly everyone in Washington enjoys being in front of a microphone, but even the most shameless media hogs might blush at Fauci’s interview schedule. It would be one thing if Fauci were merely delivering updates on the state of Covid. But he has gone way beyond that and delved into pure self-promotion. How did the appearance of Fauci on the cover of InStyle, sitting by the pool in sunglasses, declaring, “With all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective,” advance public health?