Fauci and HIV/AIDS

Anthony Fauci has been put forward by President Joe Biden as the penultimate expert on the coronavirus. Democrats have deferred to Mr. Fauci on everything from the efficacy of face masks to whether we should celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Fourth of July. All of that power to govern the most personal aspects of our lives centered in one bureaucrat with a narrow focus on epidemiology and virtually no understanding of economics, social sciences or constitutional law.

However, he does understand politics and he has been an accomplished political bureaucrat since the beginning of his tenure as director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. And I mean right from the beginning. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal defines the moment of his inception:

One early alarmist was Anthony Fauci, who made national news in 1983 with an editorial  in the Journal of the American Medical Association warning that AIDS could infect even children because of “the possibility that routine close contact, as within a family household, can spread the disease.” After criticism that he had inspired a wave of hysterical homophobia, Dr. Fauci (who in 1984 began his current job, as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), promptly pivoted 180 degrees, declaring less than two months after his piece appeared that it was “absolutely preposterous” to suggest AIDS could be spread by normal social contact. But other supposed experts went on warning erroneously that AIDS could spread widely via toilet seats, mosquito bites and kissing.

Here’s the point. Either Mr. Fauci had no scientific evidence for his initial bigoted article in JAMA, or he abandoned his scientific evidence in favor of “political correctness” to avoid being seen as bias against the homosexual community. Either way, it shows Mr. Fauci’s willingness to ignore science when it suits his political agenda has been in place since his beginnings at the NIAID. When Mr. Fauci speaks, it has little to with science and more to do with whatever personal or political agenda he is pursuing.

In addition to Mr. Fauci’s willingness to turn on a dime he demonstrates two other remarkable traits in pursuit of his agenda – create panic and ignore existing remedies.

Dr. Fauci was charged with finding a medical solution to the AIDS crisis. Like every good bureaucrat his first act was to develop a mission statement. The National Library of Medicine provides an abstract:

AIDS: Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, presented the strategies for HIV vaccine research and development for the Institute at the Conference on Advances in AIDS Vaccine Development: 1996. The plan, calling for both fundamental and empiric research, seeks also to develop partnerships between the Institute and industry sponsors, identify and exploit scientific opportunities to accelerate HIV vaccine research, and strengthen collaborative interactions with other public and private organizations. Dr. Fauci is optimistic that a useful HIV vaccine can be developed, despite economic, ethical, and cultural constraints. The ideal vaccine, according to Fauci, will likely occur in stages and ultimately be able to prevent initial infections as well as subsequent disease, be well-tolerated, and provide protection against exposure at mucosal surfaces and through blood.

Mr. Fauci is widely acclaimed for his work and you may remember the HIV vaccine that “prevents initial infection” that its leadership produced. Oh, that’s right, they have yet to produce such a vaccine despite twenty-five years of guidance from Mr. Fauci. In fact, Mr. Fauci was subject to familiar criticism during the search for treatment of HIV – the criticism was that he turned his back on existing remedies in favor of creating a new vaccine. HuffPost published a 2014 article from Sean Strub entitled Whitewashing AIDS History. An excerpt from that articles states:

Had Fauci listened to people with AIDS and the clinicians treating them, and responded accordingly, he would have saved thousands of lives. In the two years between 1987, when Callen met with Fauci and 1989, when the guidelines were ultimately issued, nearly 17,000 people with AIDS suffocated from PCP. Most of these people might have lived had Fauci responded appropriately.”

A more recent article in the Burning Tree Platform was more direct in its criticism of Mr. Fauci:

During the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Dr. Anthony Fauci discouraged and prevented inexpensive treatments for AIDS and focused exclusively on AZT. He’s doing the same thing today with COVID, focusing on highly profitable vaccines and ignoring potentially safe and effective treatments.

In a new video ‘The Hill’s “Rising,’ political commentator Kim Iversen analyzes Dr. Anthony Fauci’s support for azidothymidine (AZT) to treat HIV/AIDS and compares it to his current support for COVID mRNA vaccines.

Fauci, named head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984, sparked panic among Americans in the 1980s when he wrote in a medical journal that AIDS could be transmitted not only through sexual contact and sharing needles, but also through “ordinary close contact” with the infected.

But Mr. Fauci was wrong and he was wrong because he never applied “science” to his comments. Whether by design or by negligence, Mr. Fauci never gave consideration to the panic he would create with such “off the cuff” comments. The article continues:

Iversen says Fauci’s remarks followed the discovery of an infant diagnosed with AIDS — a case we would later learn was caused when the child passed through the womb of an infected mother.

But the damage was already done, said Iversen:

“’Public panic had intensified and people were fearing they could get AIDS from sharing a toilet seat or even from shaking hands. People living with AIDS were being alienated and ostracized from their jobs, homes, communities, and gay men, in particular, were heavily stigmatized.’

Meanwhile, Fauci and his team of scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) went full speed ahead on developing a vaccine for AIDS. However, despite promises from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that it would roll out an AIDS/HIV vaccine, Iversen says that never happened.

:Iversen made the same observation: ‘As Fauci and the NIH focused on vaccines and AZT for the treatment of aids, hundreds of drugs went unstudied.’”

Iversen said:

Many doctors advocated that the best way to treat patients was to focus on mitigating the severity of the ailments that would ultimately kill them rather than trying to eradicate AIDS altogether, that the virus mutates too quickly to waste all resources and time on a vaccine or other preventatives that everything should be studied, all avenues explored and all options should remain on the table. But unfortunately, that’s not exactly how the AIDS epidemic was handled.

In the end, a vaccine to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS has never been developed. In point of fact, the spread of HIV/AIDS was mitigated not by immunization but rather by a combination of treating its symptoms and reducing the virus’ ability to spread within the body – a point made by any number of physicians treating the patients but virtually ignored by Mr. Fauci and his government financed scientists.

And the exact same thing has happened with the COVID-19 virus with Mr. Fauci in control. First, he scared the holy bejeezus out everyone, caused the politicians to overreact, put himself squarely in the position of calling all of the balls and strikes and scorned all of those who dared to raise a cautionary voice. Mr. Fauci concentrated all of the scientific communities efforts on developing a new vaccine to immunize the population and then whipped the politicians into a frenzy to require that all be vaccinated. And along the way he has condemned virtually anyone who has suggested success in treating those infected with a variety of different known and demonstrably safe drugs.

The first victim was hydroxychloroquine. The drug was first introduced in 1955 to treat malaria. It has been available for over sixty-years and has a long history of relatively safe treatment when used in correct doses under the direction of an attending physician. Several physicians in the United States and Europe began using hydroxychloroquine for treatment of patients with COVID-19. And yet, despite their testimony of success in reducing the intensity of the COVID-19 symptoms the Federal Drug Administration in lock step with Mr. Fauci and his NAIAD colleagues have declared that there is “no evidence” that hydroxychloroquine is useful preventing patients from getting COVID-19. There are two things wrong with that statement. First, hydroxychloroquine has never been offered up as a “preventive’ rather it has been offered as a treatment for those who have already contracted COVID-19. And second, the reason that there is “no evidence” is because the National Institute of Health (NIH) and NAIAD have refused to provide funding for such a study. (In this regard we find ourselves in much the same situation as those who disagree with the conclusion that climate change is “human caused” – if you want federal grants to study climate change, the study must be geared to reinforce that decision and little if any money is available to those who disagree.) But it is even worse in this instance because physicians have sustained demands that their medical licenses be suspended for continuing to prescribed hydroxychloroquine in treatment of patients who have already contracted COVID-19 – that will put a chill on dissent.

Another long established drug is ivermectin which was developed in the late 70’s as a treatment for intestinal disorders associated with parasites. It is used in treatment of humans and animals and is also noted as a treatment for “river blindness” in children in tropical climates. Ivermectin has enjoyed a long history of effective treatment with minimal side effects when used as prescribed by a physician. And, like hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin has recently been deployed by physicians in the United States, Europe and other foreign countries as a treatment for COVID-19. And the FDA has condemned the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 but in a milder form – basically noting that clinical trials are underway and condemning self administration of the drug (probably a good idea given that any drug should be administered in the appropriate dosages).

So here is the point. Mr. Fauci and his colleagues at the NAIAD, NIH and the FDA focused all of their attention on a preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS – they failed. And while they were “tunnel focused” on that vaccine, research and trials of new drugs and existing drugs as a treatment rather than a preventive for HIV/AIDS were delayed. Given the success of treating HIV/AIDS with a “cocktail” of drugs today, it is easy to conclude that had attention been paid to the treatment rather than just the prevention thousands of lives would have been saved.

And the same is true for COVID-19. We now know that the vaccines thus far created by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson do not prevent the spread of the virus. At best, they make the inoculated less, but still, vulnerable to the disease but the intensity of the symptoms are less dangerous. We also know that the efficacy of the drugs diminishes over time and may require “boosters” even beyond the new “third dose.” What we are learning is that there are remarkable treatments coming on line that greatly diminish the morbidity of the disease – treatments like Regeneron, Remedesivir, and other monoclonal antibodies. In all probability COVID-19 will be “managed” by a combination of vaccines and increasingly effective treatments – not by Mr. Fauci’s dream of a “preventive” vaccine.

But it is the single mindedness of people like Mr. Fauci the jeopardizes timely advances in treatment of these diseases. Science, real science, never presumes a solution; rather it tests, challenges and celebrates a wide variety of exploration, development and deployment. Mr. Fauci is the antithesis of this. Like so many who think they are smarter than they really are, Mr. Fauci lives large as a bureaucrat when, were he as smart as he thinks he is, he would have been out in the real world actually discovering real treatments. You may remember that Mr. Fauci once said, and I paraphrase:

If you attack me, you are attacking science.”

What an arrogant and dangerous fool.