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January 8, 2024

Collins’s COVID Confessions

The former director of the NIH now admits that political considerations, not science, directed the national COVID response.

A months-old video clip has appeared in which the former head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, tacitly admitted that the federal government got its approach to the COVID pandemic wrong.

In the video, Collins makes some rather stunning admissions. For example, he says government health officials — whom Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci were leading — were “narrow-minded.” As Collins put it, “If you’re a public health person and you’re trying to make a decision, you have this very narrow view of what the right decision is.”

He goes on to admit that this narrow-mindedness led to myopic hubris. “So you attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life,” he says. “You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never quite recover from.”

Golly, where have we heard those concerns before?

Collins even grudgingly acknowledged the Great Barrington Declaration, a product of three distinguished epidemiologists released in October 2020 that called for a more targeted “Focused Protection” approach to the pandemic rather than the policy of mass lockdowns and social distancing.

But Collins failed to acknowledge his role in smearing these respected scientists as little more than crackpots. Indeed, Collins seemed to double down on his frustration with them for having given air to those who were critical of the government’s draconian response. Collins even appeared to envy China’s communist government, where dissent is not tolerated.

The argument that many like us in our humble editorial shop have made regarding the federal government’s response to COVID is that it failed to follow not only the science but also the scientific method by which the science is discovered.

Early on in the federal government’s response to the pandemic, it became clear that decision-makers were concerned more about political calculations than sound scientific data or practice. And this is the real value of Collins’s confession: his admission that he and Fauci were following the politics, not the science.

The trouble is that even with both Collins and Fauci now retired from their respective directorships at the NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, it appears that politics rather than science continues to rule the day. A prime example of this is the information and misinformation surrounding the practice of masking. Before the pandemic, the preponderance of research indicated that masking had little impact on viral infection rates. Indeed, this was what Americans were initially told by none other than Fauci himself at the onset of COVID. Of course, weeks later he reversed himself, blaming it on concern over a limited supply of masks for healthcare workers. That too was dubious.

But how did Fauci come by his sudden turnabout as to the efficacy of masks? Did he or Collins direct any masking studies by which to follow the science? Nope.

Here we are in 2024, and NIH has yet to conduct a randomized controlled study on masking. Meanwhile, the studies that have been conducted elsewhere have repeatedly shown that masks are ineffective against airborne viruses. The science has not changed.

Protecting and promoting political concerns rather than holding to sound scientific inquiry is the primary legacy of the federal government’s failed response to a once-in-a-century global pandemic. And now Americans are suffering economically, psychologically, and socially from this failed leadership.

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