By Tom Ozimek
Twitter owner Elon Musk has targeted former White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci in a pair of viral tweets on Sunday, including one that appears to call for legal action against the man who has been a lightning rod of criticism over COVID-19 lockdowns.
In one tweet that at the time of reporting had over 1 million likes, Musk said: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” suggesting action in courts involving the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
A Twitter user asked Musk whether his “Prosecute/Fauci” comment would be explained in a future episode of the so-called “Twitter Files,” or internal communications among Twitter staffers that Musk has described as an expose of the social media giant’s “free speech suppression.”
“Yes,” Musk replied.
The new Twitter chief wrote this weekend that he would release more Twitter Files on the previous management’s communications with federal health officials over how to deal with claims about COVID-19 rules and vaccines.
Some time after Musk took over Twitter, the company announced it would no longer enforce its policy against so-called COVID-19 misinformation.
The social media giant has faced criticism over its suppression of voices in the COVID-19 response debate who questioned the need for widespread lockdowns and other non-targeted measures.
‘Just One More Lockdown, My King…’
Fauci, who is preparing to step down from his government posts in December, faces the prospect of being asked to testify in a potential Republican probe into the origins of the COVID-19 virus and pandemic restrictions in the United States, including lockdowns.
In another tweet, Musk shared a meme comparing Fauci to Wormtongue, a “Lord of the Rings” villain who whispered into another character, King Théoden’s, ear and kept him under a wicked spell.
The meme Musk posted features Fauci’s face edited onto Wormtongue’s and President Joe Biden’s face in place of the king’s.
“Just one more lockdown, my king…” the meme reads.
The Epoch Times has contacted Fauci for comment.
At the height of the outbreak, Fauci repeatedly backed harsh measures that were believed to help contain COVID-19, including lockdowns.
Since then, research (pdf) has suggested lockdowns had a minimal impact on virus spread and COVID-19 mortality, while having a “devastating” impact on the economy and society.
‘Lockdowns May Claim 20 Times More Life Years Than They Save’
Some studies have identified lockdowns as contributing to jumps in suicides, mental health crises, learning loss, and delayed health treatments.
Other studies have indicated lockdowns worked to stem the spread of the virus.
“Our results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions—and lockdowns in particular—have had a large effect on reducing transmission,” wrote the authors of the study backing restrictive measures, though the research did not evaluate any unintended impacts of the measures.
But a recent study that looked at a wide array of research into lockdowns concluded that such measures can be an effective tool in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic but only if “long-term collateral damage is neglected.”
“The price tag of lockdowns in terms of public health is high: by using the known connection between health and wealth, we estimate that lockdowns may claim 20 times more life years than they save,” the study’s authors wrote.
That study’s authors also said that what deserves a “special and urgent analysis” is the question of “to what extent, why, and how the dissenting (disapproved by healthcare officials) scientific opinions were suppressed during COVID-19.”
“Suppression of ‘misleading’ opinions causes not only grave consequences for scientists’ moral compass; it prevents the scientific community from correcting mistakes and jeopardizes (with a good reason) public trust in science,” they wrote.
Musk’s forthcoming Twitter Files release on COVID-19, which is expected to include information on suspensions of doctors and scientists who posted content that challenged the prevailing narrative, should offer some insight into suppressing viewpoints that may have been critical in the public debate on restrictions, including lockdowns.
Fauci Vows to Cooperate With Probe
Fauci, who became the face of the U.S. pandemic response under both the Trump and Biden administrations, has faced criticism over backing harsh COVID-19 restrictions.
For instance, in October 2020, Fauci publicly recommended that then President Donald Trump “shut the whole country down,” although it’s not clear what he meant as presidents don’t have the authority to impose sweeping lockdowns.
“When it became clear that we had community spread in the country … I recommended to the president that we shut the country down,” he said in an event with students at the College of the Holy Cross in October 2020.
If the United States didn’t “shut down completely the way China did,” then the spread of COVID-19 wouldn’t be stopped, Fauci also said at the time.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since early 2020 has pursued a “zero-COVID” strategy that some analysts say is tantamount to economic suicide.
Republicans said in August that, if they retake the House in the mid-term election, they will pursue a COVID-19-related investigation, which Fauci indicated he’d be willing to testify at.
“If there are oversight hearings I absolutely will cooperate fully and testify before the Congress,” Fauci told reporters on Nov. 22.
“I have no trouble testifying—we can defend and explain everything that we’ve said,” he added.
In August, around the time Republicans vowed to launch investigations, Fauci announced he would be stepping down from his government posts by the end of the year.
At the time, Fauci was asked by CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins whether threats of investigations played a role in his decision to end tenure in government.
“None at all, Kaitlan. Really none at all, not even a slight amount,” Fauci said. “I have nothing to hide and I could defend everything I’ve done. So that doesn’t faze me or bother me. My decisions of stepping down go back well over a year.”
Fauci added that he had initially thought of stepping down at the end of the Trump administration, but stayed on at Biden’s request.
“I thought that was going to last about a year, that we would be having COVID behind us after a year. But obviously, painfully so, that’s not the case,” Fauci said.
In a media blitz at the end of November, Fauci said the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and lamented that vaccine booster uptake is low among Americans.
Americans Not ‘Done’ With COVID-19, Fauci Says
In separate interviews on CBS and NBC that aired on Nov. 27, Fauci acknowledged the United States has made substantial progress related to the pandemic, including cases and deaths.
At the same time, he insisted that the outbreak isn’t over.
“I don’t like reading in the newspapers or getting my report from the COVID team: Today we lost 400 people, today we lost 350 people,” Fauci said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “So it’s much, much better than it was, but it is not at a level low enough where we should feel we’re done with it completely, because we’re not.”
Fauci said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that uptake of the latest vaccine booster is running at between 11 and 15 percent in the United States.
“We’ve got to do better than that,” he said, while also warning of a COVID-19 winter surge.
“So I think the idea that, ‘Forget it, this is over,’ it isn’t,” Fauci said. “We’re going into the winter right now. We have the wherewithal to mitigate against another surge. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
A week before Fauci’s appearances on CBS and NBC, the White House rolled out a campaign to convince more Americans to get boosted.
Lab Leak Theory and China’s Zero-COVID Policy
In the interviews, Fauci was also asked about what he thinks of China’s zero-COVID policy and where he stands on the lab leak theory.
“I have a completely open mind about that, despite people saying that I don’t. I have a totally open mind about that,” he said of the theory that the COVID-19 virus leaked from a lab, although he stated that the evidence collected so far “strongly” points to a natural occurrence.
Fauci also said Chinese authorities haven’t been transparent about providing data from around the beginning of the outbreak, confounding efforts to uncover the truth about the origin of the virus.
“Even when there’s nothing to hide, they act in a suspicious, nontransparent way,” Fauci said of China’s communist regime.
Jack Phillips and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.