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Dr. Anthony Fauci,

By Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD, Law & Liberty, Aug. 10, 2023

Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD, is Chancellor’s Professor of Radiology, Pediatrics, Medical Education, Philosophy, Liberal Arts, Philanthropy, and Medical Humanities and Health Studies at Indiana University. His most recent books are Marie Curie and Contagion.

The US COVID public health emergency officially ended in May. Most people exhibit an understandable impulse to forget about it—memories of illness, death, business and school closings, and isolation are not pleasant to revisit. In so doing, however, we are missing out on opportunities to learn from our pandemic experience, especially mistakes that are likely to be repeated in the future. Three of the most important of these lessons concern public health officials: The tendency of leaders to overstate dangers and, therefore, the measures necessary to counteract them; a failure to exhibit sufficient forthrightness and self-correction; and the active suppression of alternative points of view.

It is becoming increasingly clear that US efforts to reduce COVID transmission caused considerable suffering. School closures and the shift to online learning—which disproportionately affected students from disadvantaged backgrounds—resulted in dramatic drops in achievement scores across the nation. Rates of social isolation and associated depression, anxiety, and drug overdose increased sharply. The economic impact was little short of catastrophic, especially among the poor, with millions of jobs eliminated, hundreds of thousands of businesses permanently shuttered, and trillions of dollars lost. In these and other ways, the “cure” proved worse than the disease …