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Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We need to learn the lessons of America’s COVID-19 response now—before it is too late. A new strain of H5N1, bird flu, has made the jump into humans. COVID-19 continues to linger—each new infection is a roll of the dice. The clock is ticking.

Recently the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus heard shocking testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who, in effect, led the nation’s response to the pandemic, about the origins of the pandemic. Dr. Fauci testified that he and others took a host of steps—burner phones, dummy email accounts, deleting records—to cover their tracks. It seems that back when Dr. Fauci and his cohorts told the American people that there was no way the virus could have come from a Chinese lab funded by his agency, they were lying. 

However, as bad as their actions were with respect to COVID’s origins, the failures of Dr. Fauci and other public health and pandemic leadership in dealing with the disease are way worse. These failures cost countless lives and trillions of dollars, closed schools, separated families, and tanked our economy. These failures are what we must learn to avoid going forward.

Censorship: Free speech is a cornerstone of American Democracy. Allowing the marketplace of ideas to flourish is the special sauce of American innovation. Early on in the HIV epidemic, a group of scientists came up with the novel idea that the virus was a reverse transcriptase disease. They were roundly criticized but not censored; It turns out they were right. Had these researchers been censored, HIV would remain the devastating plague it once was.

However, during the pandemic officials across government—from Dr. Fauci to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—went to great lengths to silence alternative voices. The Government went after doctors who had developed alternative treatment regimens. They worked with tech companies to silence competing views on social media. They sued companies that were trying to educate Americans about other things people could do to protect themselves. (Full disclosure, my company, Xlear, is still fighting a suit by the FTC that we made false claims—despite scores of published studies that back our position.)

Scientific Irony: While the government was busy censoring other voices as dangerous, much (most) of what our government told us was wrong. Public health officials told us to keep six feet apart. But, this January, Dr. Fauci testified that the social distancing guidelines had no scientific basis—they “sort of just appeared.” They directed us to wash our hands and groceries. I’m all for good hygiene, but the studies show these measures have almost no real benefit in protecting against a respiratory virus. The Federal government is suing Xlear for not having adequate randomized clinical data to support our claims. Yet that same government approved and mandated experimental vaccines for use by millions of Americans based on a study done on just eight mice. The FTC should be suing our public health leaders for false and misleading claims.  

Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex: In the process, they created a vast pharmaceutical industrial complex to push vaccines and other drugs on Americans as the sole and silver bullet. They sold Americans a bill of goods. They insisted vaccines would protect you from getting COVID. In July of 2022, Dr. Deborah Brix, who was a key leader in the government’s COVID response, told Fox News that she knew all along that the vaccines wouldn’t prevent COVID infections. (I’m not anti-vaccine, I just prefer vaccines that are proven safe and effective.) They pushed the anti-viral drug Remdesivir despite tests showing it was ineffective against COVID. The U.S. government spent literally tens of billions on pharmaceutical drugs that massively over-promised and under-delivered.

Closed Minds:  Our government rejected (censored) alternative countermeasures even when studies showed they work. Multiple clinical studies have shown that early nasal rinsing with saline can reduce infection risk, lower viral loadslessen illness duration and severity, and prevent hospitalizationOne clinical trial found that using a nasal spray three times a day reduced infection risk by 65% over placebo. Yet, the Government still refuses to inform Americans to this day. Bad dental hygiene and obesity are the leading co-morbidities for COVID—yet you never heard Dr. Fauci advise brushing and flossing or getting to the gym.

Why did public health officials have such closed minds and Big-Pharma bias? That is a great question the House Subcommittee should probe. My suggestion: Follow the money and the revolving door.

Had public health officials acted differently, the data suggests much of the worst of the pandemic might have been prevented. A more balanced, open-minded approach—one that used every tool not just the ones our government favored—could have saved upwards of 600,000 lives. Not to mention the trillions of dollars we taxpayers are now on the hook for. Such an approach also could have kept our economy, our schools and our culture open. COVID’s needless toll is the real failing of officials like Dr. Fauci.

Which is to say, these are the sorts of forward-looking questions we need to be asking, now. If we listen to officials like Dr. Fauci to tell us how they saved the nation (such that we repeat their mistakes), when in fact they defecated the bed, we are setting ourselves up for the next pandemic disaster.