When the pandemic hit, America needed someone to turn to for advice. The media and public naturally looked to Dr. Anthony Fauci—the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an esteemed laboratory immunologist and one of President Donald Trump‘s chosen COVID advisers. Unfortunately, Dr. Fauci got major epidemiology and public health questions wrong. Reality and scientific studies have now caught up with him.
Here are the key issues:
Natural immunity. By pushing vaccine mandates, Dr. Fauci ignores naturally acquired immunity among the COVID-recovered, of which there are more than 45 million in the United States. Mounting evidence indicates that natural immunity is stronger and longer lasting than vaccine-induced immunity. [Eds.: Long-term trends are still unclear. A recent study reached the opposite conclusion, but was criticized by an author of this op-ed.] In a study from Israel, the vaccinated were 27 times more likely to get symptomatic COVID than the unvaccinated who had recovered from a prior infection.
We have known about natural immunity from disease at least since the Athenian Plague in 430 BC. Pilots, truckers and longshoremen know about it, and nurses know it better than anyone. Under Fauci’s mandates, hospitals are firing heroic nurses who recovered from COVID they contracted while caring for patients. With their superior immunity, they can safely care for the oldest and frailest patients with even lower transmission risk than the vaccinated.
Protecting the elderly. While anyone can get infected, there is more than a thousand-fold difference in mortality risk between the old and the young. After more than 700,000 reported COVID deaths in America, we now know that lockdowns failed to protect high-risk older people. When confronted with the idea of focused protection of the vulnerable, Dr. Fauci admitted he had no idea how to accomplish it, arguing that it would be impossible. That may be understandable for a lab scientist, but public health scientists have presented many concrete suggestions that would have helped, had Fauci and other officials not ignored them.
What can we do now to minimize COVID mortality? Current vaccination efforts should focus on reaching people over 60 who are neither COVID-recovered nor vaccinated, including hard-to-reach, less-affluent people in rural areas and inner cities. Instead, Dr. Fauci has pushed vaccine mandates for children, students and working-age adults who are already immune—all low-risk populations—causing tremendous disruption to labor markets and hampering the operation of many hospitals.