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Fauci Blames Free Speech for Pandemic Challenges in Contentious Testimony

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Anthony Fauci, formerly the head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical advisor to President Biden from 2021 to 2022, has testified before the US House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The hindsight doesn’t seem to have played any role in Fauci’s thinking about the way the situation was handled – if anything, his statements make for an (unwelcome) reminder of the fiery pro-censorship and rhetoric witnessed in the heyday of the pandemic.

The Subcommittee is also looking into the claims of Fauci’s role in the funding of research in China’s Wuhan lab.

Fauci complained to the Subcommittee that First Amendment-guaranteed free speech protections had made it more difficult to do his job during the pandemic. He complained about scientists getting threats when they “push back” against what he considers misinformation and disinformation (and that, according to Fauci, includes those criticizing him on social media).

“Demonization” is how the former chief White House medical advisor put it. The implication was that freedom of expression related to Covid (even such as it was, and remains – namely, riddled with censorship on major social media) stood in the way of better protecting his person and scientists who held similar views as him.

Fauci’s testimony targeted anything from vaccine skeptics to podcasters, “unhinged memes,” and “conspiracy theorists” (this wording came in a committee member’s question) – with perhaps the most astounding claim being that those who chose not to get the Covid jab are “probably” responsible for 200,000 to 300,000 deaths from the virus in the US.

Talk about unhinged. Fauci on Monday also defended the vaccines that people were censored for being skeptical of, saying that their effect in preventing transmission was “not 100 percent” – at least, according to him, not with the early versions.

But, Fauci asserted that protection against the disease developing into a more serious form had been “more prolonged.”

The reaction to his testimony was notably different among Democrats and Republicans; Robert Garcia, a Democrat (who was the first to bring up “podcaster conspiracy theorists and unhinged Facebook memes”) thanked Fauci and his team “for saving lives,” adding, “And I’m sorry, you have to continue going on with these attacks.”

But Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene told Fauci his place is in prison.

“We should be recommending you to be prosecuted. We should be writing a criminal referral because you should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. You belong in prison,” said the congresswoman.

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