Newly released emails show Anthony Fauci and his boss at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) wanted to conduct a “quick and devastating” take-down of health experts who proposed a lockdown-free Covid-19 control strategy.
The emails, released on Friday by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, show retiring NIH Director Francis Collins telling Fauci in October 2020 to discredit the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) – a statement that proposes working towards achieving herd immunity through “focused protection” of the most vulnerable.
Days after the GBD was released, Collins notified Fauci and other health officials about how the proposal from “three fringe epidemiologists” was getting a “lot of attention” and called for a “quick and devastating published take down of its premises.”
A short time later, Fauci emails Collins an op-ed from Wired magazine that “debunks this theory” and calls out the three scientists – Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, Sunetra Gupta, an epidemiologist at Oxford University, and Jay Bhattacharya, a public health policy expert at Stanford University – for touting an approach without “following the scientific method” for peer-reviewed hypotheses.
After Collins lauds this “excellent” response, Fauci sends him another op-ed in The Nation magazine that “[refuted] the herd immunity approach.” Collins replies agreeing with article that the idea is a “deadly delusion.”
This part of the exchange was not included in disclosures by the subcommittee in its year-end report, but was posted in a series of tweets by Phil Magness, education director at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), a libertarian think tank that sponsored the GBD. Magness condemns the “smear campaign” later launched by Collins against the scientists through a Washington Post article in which he was quoted.
Following the release of the emails, Bhattacharya said he was the “subject of a propaganda attack by my own government” while Kulldorff tweeted that an “invitation” to a “public debate” on herd immunity was still open.
During a Fox News interview on Friday, Collins stood by his “take down” comment, claiming that the herd immunity approach “didn’t make sense” to him since adopting it would have led to “hundreds of thousands of additional deaths.”