Former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins has admitted that tunnel vision handicapped the development of public policy to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collins, who stepped down at the end of 2021, was the superior of former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, who along with Collins proposed and supported lockdowns as the major policy element to deal with the pandemic.
Collins said putting public health bureaucrats in charge meant that a one-dimensional policy would ensue.
“As a guy living inside the Beltway, feeling a sense of crisis, trying to decide what to do in some situation room in the White House with people who had data that was incomplete,” Collins said.
“We weren’t really thinking about what that would mean to Wilk and his family in Minnesota, a thousand miles away from where the virus was hitting so hard. We weren’t really considering the consequences in communities that were not New York City or some other big city,” he said.
Collins said that health experts never considered the ripple effects of their decisions.
“The public health people — we talked about this earlier and this really important point — 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. And that is something that will save a life; it doesn’t matter what else happens,” he said.
“So you attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life. 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. So, yeah, collateral damage,” he said.
“This is a public health mindset and I think a lot of us involved in trying to make those recommendations had that mindset and that was really unfortunate. It’s another mistake we made,” he said.
It’s hard to overstate how irresponsible and destructive Francis Collins’ view is and was. He dispensed with all the rest of public health to focus on covid and lockdown, and countless millions — especially children and the poor — paid the price, sometimes with their lives. https://t.co/J8dv5ro3xV
— Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) December 31, 2023
The Wall Street Journal responded with an editorial that noted, “This was precisely the argument we made on March 20, 2020 (‘Rethinking the Virus Shutdown’), for politicians not to accept the lockdown advice of public-health officials as gospel. They think too narrowly, and political leaders have to consider the larger consequences of policies for the public good.”
“Dr. Collins’s mini-mea culpa still doesn’t make up for his collaboration with Anthony Fauci to discredit the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated a strategy of focused protection on the elderly and vulnerable while letting younger people at lower risk continue with their lives. Nor does the former NIH head apologize for trying to censor different health-policy advice,” the editorial, which also noted that this interview was part of a summer symposium hosted by a bipartisan group, stated.
The Journal noted that the “lockdowns did tremendous harm that we are still living with. That and the effort by Drs. Collins and Fauci to shut off all debate is a major reason the public has lost trust in public-health experts.”
In an Op-Ed on National Review, Rich Lowry wrote that what Collins said earlier last year would have triggered punishments during the pandemic.
“Not too long ago, anyone who said that epidemiologists might be overly focused on disease prevention to the exclusion of other concerns — you know, like jobs, mental health, and schooling — were dismissed as reckless nihilists who didn’t care if their fellow citizens died en masse,” he wrote.
“If Francis Collins and his cohort got it wrong, the likes of Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia governor Brian Kemp — and the renegade scientists and doctors who supported their more modulated approach to the pandemic — got it right,” he wrote.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.