In a House hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci denied that he ever characterized the Oxford, Harvard and Stanford epidemiologists who authored the Great Barrington Declaration as “fringe” scientists.
The exchange took place Thursday with Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., in a hearing of a House Appropriates subcommittee broadcast by CSPAN 2 (Cline begins speaking at the 127:50 mark).
“On what basis did you identify these scientists as fringe?” Cline asked, referring to Dr. Martin Kulldorf of Harvard, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford and Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford.
“I never characterized them as fringe scientists, if you look at the record. That is incorrect,” replied Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
“I never called them fringe scientists,” he said.
However, the available evidence indicates Fauci agreed with Collins’ characterization, regardless of whether he used the term.
In an Oct. 8, 2020, email to Fauci, Collins said the Great Barrington Declaration came from “three fringe epidemiologists” and told the NIAID director there needs to be a “quick and devastating published takedown.”
Five days later, Collins made his viewpoint public when he was quoted in a Washington Post story saying the Great Barrington Declaration is a “fringe component of epidemiology.”
Collins emailed to Fauci a link to the Post story and wrote, “My quotes are accurate, but will not be appreciated in the [Trump White House].”
Fauci replied: “They are too busy with things to worry about. What you said was entirely correct.”
Collins wrote in his Oct. 8, 2020, email that the Great Barrington Declaration was a “proposal from three fringe epidemiologists” who met with then Health and Human Services Secretary
He noted it even had a co-signature from Nobel Prize winner Mike Leavitt at Stanford.
“There needs to be a quick and devastating published takedown of its premises,” the NIH chief continued. “I don’t see anything like that on line yet – is it underway?”
The Great Barrington Declaration criticized universal lockdowns, calling for focused protection of the vulnerable older population based on data showing they are more than a thousand times more likely to die from COVID infection than the young.
“As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls,” the epidemiologists wrote. “We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.”
Fauci, shortly after the declaration came out, condemned the idea of relying on herd immunity to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as “nonsense and very dangerous.”
The declaration has been signed by 15,316 medical and public health scientists, and 45,154 medical practitioners.
Levitt, mentioned by Collins in the email as a declaration signatory, is a biophysicist and professor of structural biology at Stanford University. He was recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Among other Great Barrington signatories are Dr. David Katz, the founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, and Dr. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at the Tufts University School of Medicine who is known as an expert on vaccine development, efficacy and safety.
Early in the pandemic, then-New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned Katz on several occasions in his daily briefing, openly wondering if his advice against the universal lockdowns should be heeded.
See the email:
New email dump showing Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins coordinating a propaganda campaign to attack the Great Barrington declaration last October. More coming soon so here’s a teaser… pic.twitter.com/hVrNkjAYaS
— Phil Magness (@PhilWMagness) December 17, 2021
Stanford’s Bhattacharya is a physician, epidemiologist, health economist and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations.
“So now I know what it feels like to be the subject of a propaganda attack by my own government,” he said in response to the Collins email.
“Discussion and engagement would have been a better path.”
Harvard’s Kulldorff has since left Harvard as a professor of medicine. He is a biostatistician and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations.
Oxford’s Gupta is an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.
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