What if We’d Handled COVID Differently? - The Liz Wheeler Show





In this episode, Liz talks with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya about the way our response to COVID-19 unfolded, and how it could have been handled better. If alternative beliefs and research about the science behind COVID had been allowed to be shared, rather than censored, much of the devastation would not have occurred. This includes the school shutdowns that harmed the educational attainment and mental health of most of our nation’s children, the small businesses that were forced to shutter, the general social polarization between those who believed in vaccines and those who exercised their choice not to get one, among other things.

The interview focuses heavily on Dr. Fauci, who basically was the President of the United States for much of the pandemic. He has consistently lied about his and the National Institute of Health’s role in the pandemic, out of fear for his reputation, and possibly monetary factors. The entire scientific bureaucracy fear-mongered the public and the remainder of the government into endless lockdowns that achieved little benefit, if any, and this is largely due to the leftist ideology that most scientists and academics subscribe to. Fauci’s policies resulted directly in tremendous loss of life and he should go down in history as an utter failure, based solely on his pandemic policy choices.

Show Transcript

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain typos, mistakes, and/or incomplete information.

Hi, guys. Welcome to The Liz Wheeler Show. I’m Liz Wheeler. I have a great show for you today, but before we get started, if you could subscribe to this show, I would greatly appreciate it. If you have an iPhone, just go to Apple Podcasts. If you have an Android, go to Spotify, hit that subscribe button on YouTube. You can subscribe, although we’re still under strike over there, you might wanna go to Rumble.com/LizWheeler. If you wanna hear the fully uncensored interviews and episodes and everything that we have for you, just go to Rumble.com/LizWheeler. So for the show today, what I wanna talk about is we’re nearing the three-year mark of when COVID-19 started. And when I say started, I mean, quote unquote started, when it started to become a thing in the United States. When we started to hear these stories about what was happening in China, our public health establishment here started to make plans.

The mainstream media started to condition the American population to fear the COVID-19 virus. We’re almost three years out from when that first started. And I can’t help but sit here and wonder, if we had not had the lockdowns and the mask mandates and the vaccines, and then the vaccine mandates imposed on us by the public health establishment and the politicians, if early treatment, the names that shall not be said, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, had those treatments not been squashed by Fauci and the NIH and all of the leftist governors who are imposing these lockdowns, we have to wonder, what would be different now? The outcome would certainly be different, but how would it be different? There are some leading scientists, some leading doctors who speculate that eight out of 10 people who died from COVID-19 during that first six months of COVID in 2020, would not have died had they had access to early interventions,

and had we had a more targeted approach to stopping vulnerable populations from, from being exposed to this respiratory virus. But you have to wonder, how many people died as a result of the lockdowns with cancer screenings missed and surgeries canceled, and emergencies like heart attacks and strokes. People didn’t go to the ER. You had mental health crisis. You had the economic impacts, which also have a negative correlation to people’s physical health and the amount, or the length of their lives. I have to sit here and wonder, what would’ve happened had we done this differently, if we had had different people in charge? And that’s what I wanna talk about today, because we have evidence, we had people at the very beginning of COVID-19 who were dissenting from the public health establishment, the Faucis, the Deborah Birxes, who were saying, stop doing what we’re doing. This is not the way to handle it. And the way that you are doing this with lockdowns is inflicting tremendous harm. So I want to play a thought experiment about what it would look like today had we done it a different way. So let’s get to it.

Okay, so this dissent that I’m talking about, if we had handled COVID-19 a different way, if we had not gone with the Faucis and the Birxes of the world, if we had listened to alternative viewpoints and followed the actual scientific data, what would’ve happened? In order to answer that question, we have to take a step back because we weren’t allowed to see this dissenting viewpoint debated in the court of public opinion, even though these lockdowns and these mask mandates, these vaccine mandates, the prohibition on these early treatments, they impacted us and our family members, and our friends and our coworkers. We weren’t allowed to hear the dissent because Big Tech censored it. In one of the recent Twitter files revelations, this is what Bari Weiss wrote. She said, a new Twitter files investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics, all in secret, without informing users.

Twitter once had a mission to quote, give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers. Along the way, barriers, nevertheless, were erected. Take for example, she tweets, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Jay Bhattacharya, who argued that COVID lockdowns would harm children. Twitter secretly placed him on a trends blacklist, which prevented his tweets from trending. As if that’s not bad enough, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya found out that he was placed on this trends blacklist the day he joined Twitter, because he posted a link to the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated for targeted interventions and not wholesale lockdowns. And Dr. Bhattacharya is with me today. Dr. Bhattacharya, thank you for coming on the show.

Oh, my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Liz.

Okay, so before we get into this bigger question that I’ve been discussing, where would we be right now had we followed the science that you saw from the beginning versus taking the recommendations of these public health officials, the mandates of the politicians that were based on ideology and not science? I wanna ask you a question about the censorship that you faced when you did choose to speak out. When you found out that from the Twitter files revelations, that you had been put on a Twitter blacklist, on a trends blacklist, the very day that you’ve joined Twitter, your first tweet. How did you react to this news?

I mean, in one sense, I kind of suspected it, Liz. It wasn’t a huge surprise. I mean, I could see that I gained a fair following on Twitter for a scientist. But I could see my tweets were going to my followers, and it was hard to reach people outside of my following. That’s essentially what the trends blacklist did. That just confirmed that. They made sure that my tweets didn’t extend to people who maybe didn’t know about me. Or maybe just, sometimes on Twitter, they’ll show you might like, or trending or something. My tweets never showed up on those things. So that essentially, to me it looked like I was being successful since I had all these followers.

But I was speaking to an essentially a bubble of people that already agreed with me when my purpose was to speak to everybody, or as many people as I could reach. And Twitter made sure that didn’t happen. It’s not just Twitter, though. I’ve faced this kind of censorship, or some sort like this, throughout the pandemic. In March of 2021, I was in a round table with Governor DeSantis a public round table filmed by TV stations and whatnot. And the governor asked me if masking children had any effect on transmission of the virus. And I told him of the fact, which is that there was no high-quality evidence, at all, from randomized studies that demonstrated any benefit from masking children.

That was just a true statement. YouTube banned the video of a sitting governor of a state getting advice from his scientific advisors to make sure that other people didn’t hear this dangerous interchange. I mean, I was waiting for good government people to stand up and say, well, gosh shouldn’t people have access to the advice the governor’s getting? But I never, never heard that. Instead, it was somehow misinformation, even though I was stating a scientific fact. And YouTube just censored it. Big Tech, I think played a very bad role in the pandemic, suppressing the dissemination of basic scientific facts during the pandemic, in the name of suppressing misinformation. But, I don’t think they did this alone, Liz.

I mean, if you look at what actually happened I’ve been involved with this lawsuit the Biden administration, the Missouri and Louisiana Attorney General’s Offices and the new Civil Alliance have sued the Biden administration on First Amendment grounds, on censorship grounds. And I’ve been involved in that lawsuit. We’ve uncovered a dozen federal agencies that it set up, in fact, a vast censorship regime, a ministry of truth, that worked to suppress the dissemination of basic, scientific information that made sure that the Big Tech giants would enforce the censorship regime. I don’t think these Big Tech companies just simply did this on their own alone. They did this at the behest of the government. And so it’s a basic violation of civil liberties.

It is. I mean, that’s what we saw right from one of the most recent revelations in the Twitter files is that the FBI, and I know this was related to the Hunter Biden laptop story, and not specifically related to COVID, but the apparatus exists for whatever topic they want to use to censor it or use it to censor. But the FBI actually paid Twitter over $3 million taxpayer dollars to censor us. So our money was being used by the FBI to pay Big Tech to censor us, which is kind of bananas. So, going back to your sort of lack of surprise, I always describe it like I’m shocked because it’s immoral, but I’m not surprised because I expect this to happen, which is probably how you felt when you found out you were on this trends blacklist. Were you notified before the Twitter files was published? Did Elon Musk or one of the journalists that were revealing this, did they call you or did you find out when you saw this on Twitter?

No, Bari Weiss called me and informed me about this. And she wanted to clarify some questions about my participation on Twitter to help her reporting. So I knew that it was coming when she reported it. But it’s one thing to know it in theory and feel it, it’s another thing to see it in black and white, and I’m still coming to terms with it. I mean, the way I view it, it’s not just that Twitter did this, it’s that my own government worked to suppress my legal free speech rights. I’m a naturalized American citizen. I came to the US when I was four, and I was nationalized when I was 20.

I’ve loved this country, and one of the reasons I’ve loved this country is because of its commitment to free speech. Even for unpopular opinions, I think it’s very healthy for a country to have the ability for any citizen to speak their mind, as long as they’re not threatening people or whatnot. And it’s one of the main reasons why America is so looked up to around the world. To find out that in fact, that’s not the reality of how the American government has behaved during the pandemic is an absolutely, I mean, it’s a huge disappointment to me. And of course, personally, I resent having the American government try to suppress my speech on the basis of they think that I’m saying incorrect things, even though I know, for a fact, I’m just describing my professional opinion about scientific matters and science policy matters.

But even more is, I’m sad, is the right word, I guess. I think if we had had a fair debate, Liz during the pandemic, about the science policy, about the science not suppressed with the thumb on the scale by the government and Big Tech, we would’ve won that argument. And so many people would not have suffered as a result of us winning the argument. The schools would’ve stayed open, Liz. Children who were denied, in effect, an education for two years would’ve actually had an education, the learning losses that we’re seeing in poor and minority populations, especially. But basically, everybody would’ve been avoided. Those are gonna have lifelong consequences. We could have avoided the harm to a tremendous number of small businesses who lost their livelihoods.

We could have avoided closing churches, schools, we could have protected vulnerable older people from COVID better because if focus protection had been the strategy that had been adopted, which is what I was advocating basically through the whole pandemic, we would never have sent COVID-infected patients back to nursing homes. Because why? Because we did that because we wanted protect hospital systems instead of people. All of this harm and damage could have been avoided. So I’m just tremendously sad looking back on COVID and thinking what would’ve happened if we’d actually been permitted to have a free and fair debate? That’s what I was denied. That’s what the American people are denied. And the consequences are devastating. We’re gonna be paying for it for a generation.

It is. It’s chilling, almost, to sit here three years later and ask, what if? And it’s our responsibility to ask what if, because a lot of people have died. A lot of people have been hurt. The lockdowns inflicted tremendous damage, not just economic damage, but damage on people’s mental health, on their physical health. People’s surgeries were canceled, cancer screenings were missed. People’s diseases were advanced, heart attacks. People didn’t go to the hospital for heart attacks and strokes. I believe it was you and I who talked years ago about the number of years lost off of people’s lives, even if they didn’t die from COVID, as a result of the lockdown. I mean, that’s still a very valid discussion and debate that should be had now. And I wanna ask you, at the very beginning of COVID-19, when we were first starting to hear about things happening in China in late February or late January, February, as we were preparing for that here, as the media was talking about it more than when we had that first outbreak on the cruise ship, what was the first clue to you that the public health establishment not just got something wrong.

We all saw anybody who was willing to look past their ideology, saw pretty quickly that the public health establishment wasn’t responding correctly. But when did you realize that it wasn’t just a mistake that they were making, that maybe they would rectify when they realized it was a mistake? When did you realize that there was something much deeper at play?

You know, it’s funny, very early in the pandemic, I actually thought the public health establishment was reasonable, right? If you read some of the op-eds from some of the people who pushed lockdowns from, say, February of 2020, they were arguing for a focus protection strategy. They understood that it was older people that were at high risk. They weren’t arguing for authoritarianism. And there was some politicization almost immediately, right? So I think, I forget exactly when, but when President Trump imposed that travel ban from China, which I think, by the way, was too late. It was, it was already widespread. I thought it was a mistake at the time. But a lot of the public health establishment viewed it as a racist act, as opposed to a mistake in public health act.

And that seemed funny to me. But, you know, the public health establishment generally is on the Left. So that didn’t strike me as out of character. It was really middle of March when we adopted the lockdowns that I realized that something had gone deeply off the rails. And part of the thing is, the traditional strategy for dealing with respiratory virus pandemics does not involve lockdowns. It doesn’t involve school closures, doesn’t involve disruption of life. The traditional public health strategy involves identifying high-risk people moving heaven and earth to protect them if possible developing new therapeutics, developing vaccines as rapidly as possible. All of that is standard. Not lockdowns, not society-wide suppression of basic civil rights and of our basic rights of association.

It’s broader than that. Essentially, the lockdown from the middle of March on, public health basically put out the idea, and they’re still doing it to some extent, that our fellow human beings are biohazards, that we have to treat each other as if we are contaminants to of each other. That we’re all dangerous to each other. That’s a really dangerous idea. That’s when I was absolutely floored. And this was basically in the middle of March, that public health started doing this on a turn of a dime. I wrote an op-ed in mid-March 2020, right after the lockdown started, saying look, we don’t know the mortality risk from this disease because back then, there wasn’t that much testing. We were looking at the people who had come into hospital and asked how many of them died.

And it turned out 3% were dying. Right? Which is actually a big number. The problem was, it’s a highly infectious respiratory virus. It seemed likely to me that there were a lot of other people that had been infected that we didn’t know about that had recovered. And so I wrote an op-ed calling for public health authorities to conduct a study of antibodies in the population to see what fraction of the population actually already had been infected and recovered, to find the true death rate of the disease, and to find out how widespread it was. Because if it’s widespread already, then what are we doing a lockdown for? Is it to get rid of the disease? Is it just to suppress hospital overcrowding? Well, hospitals, like in New York, maybe they were pushed, but in most of the rest of the country, they weren’t. Why were we doing a nationwide lockdown if it was just about hospital overcrowding? So in the early days of the pandemic very early days, I was obviously concerned like everyone else in public health about this. But I didn’t think the public health response was particularly out of line. In mid-March, when we paused the lockdowns, it was clear to me that something had gone deeply wrong.

So what is the thing that went deeply wrong? I mean, you mentioned two things. You mentioned that the public health establishment leans left, which I think is pretty obvious at this point, even if people weren’t thinking about that fact before the pandemic. We know that now. And then you said that lockdowns are not part of the traditional model of addressing a respiratory virus outbreak or pandemic. So what was the thing that went wrong? Was it fear? Was it politics? Was it money? Was it a person? What was it?

So there’s some foyer emails, freedom of information emails, that have come out from the NIH involving those early days of the pandemic. What happened was that the World Health Organization sent an envoy to China, I think to Beijing actually in early February, 2020. And I remember, I think it was late February, mid-February when they actually went in January, China had locked down, and at the end of January, they lifted the lockdowns and declared victory over the pandemic, that they’d eradicated the disease from its shores. At the same time, you had this Italian example, where there’s coffins lined up in cathedrals, people were panicked. I mean, really just dead-on panicked. There’s an email exchange between Tony Fauci and one of his deputies named Cliff Lane that came out during these, in these foyer emails

from those days. There was a huge effort to make sure that somebody for the NIH got to go to China on this World Health Organization junket to try to evaluate what happened in China. Cliff Lane finally got to go, Tony Fauci’s deputy and when he came back, he wrote an email to an epidemiologist at the World Health Organization, which I think it was the same message he was sending within the NIH, that what China had did, had worked. That the Chinese example was something that we ought to consider very seriously, because even though it was high cost, this draconian lockdown where people were welded into their own homes and not a allowed out, were quarantined forcibly, or pets destroyed even though those were draconian measures and it had actually worked, that China conquered the disease.

And he wrote this email where he said, what China did worked, albeit a great cost and effect, we should seriously consider what they’ve done, although this decision’s gonna take more than just the people in this room, is what Cliff Lane wrote to Maria Van Kirkoff, this epidemiologist at the World Health Organization. The NIH adopted this position based on that experience of sending one man to China, to Beijing, not even to Wuhan, that the Chinese policy of the lockdown was the policy that we ought to adopt, because that was the right way to stop the virus from spreading. Because that’s what the Chinese had done. I think that the example of China and the counter-example of Italy played a tremendously important role in the minds of public health, the top public health bureaucrats in the United States, in the UK, and many, many, many other countries. And I think that’s what led us down that path in March 2020, that flip.

So this man, this deputy of Anthony Fauci Cliff Lane, and I don’t ask this question to throw an in an ad hominem insult at him, was he dumb? Was he naive, or was he bought off by the Chinese Communist Party in thinking and then articulating and advocating for a position of locking people down in that way and saying that it was effective?

Well, I don’t think he’s bought off by the Chinese Communist Party. He’s a long-term employee of the NIH. Actually, I think he’s an accomplished lab scientist. I just don’t think he has a lot of public health experience. Ow do you let yourself be fooled into thinking something will work when it didn’t? He goes to China with the World Health Organization, he goes to Beijing, not to Wuhan. He doesn’t actually see what’s happening on the ground in Wuhan. He has presentations from the Chinese public health authorities, telling him that what we did worked. And many of them, there are close collaborations between Chinese scientists and American scientists. That’s normal. The world scientists generally don’t think too much about politics.

And so he’s getting advice from people he trusts in China, they’re telling him what we did worked. He doesn’t have a lot of public health experience, so he doesn’t feel deeply what the costs and harms truly are of those lockdown policies. He’s just an infectious disease guy. And so he’s just looking at this saying, okay, this is how we control this infectious disease. And he doesn’t understand the knock-on consequences, which we’ve lived for the last three years. And you could see it if you had any public health experience at all or social science experience at all, that that was exactly what was gonna happen. You lock down, you ring this bell of fear and you can’t un-ring it. And then all kinds of irrational things happen that harm people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

That was obvious to anyone who had some deep public health experience and deep understanding of the social science of it. But not Cliff Lane. I mean, he’s a lab scientist, an accomplished lab scientist, a deputy of Tony Fauci. He comes back and he’s impressed. Scientific bureaucratic leaders, they don’t actually have a ton of public health experience. I mean, Tony Fauci is also a lab scientist primarily, and it seems to me like he’s obsessed with controlling germs, when in fact he should be worried more about health as a whole rather than just simply one or a small number of infectious diseases. A lot of it was just fear and shortsightedness. And then, our public health authorities give this advice to our governments.

I have to say, looking at how President Trump reacted to this, I’m frankly, I mean, I can understand a politician hearing this kind of advice from public health advisors would get scared. In fact, I actually got to visit with President Trump in July of 2020, or August of 2020, and he asked me this question. He said when I locked down on March, 2020, I think I saved 2 million lives. Did I save 2 million lives? He was hearing from public health advisors that were running very unrealistic models saying that if you didn’t lock down in March, 2020, that 2 million Americans are gonna die over the next couple of months. As a politician, unless you have some science background, or you surround yourself with people that are willing to speak up and say, well, let’s get a second opinion,

it’s really hard to push back. And I think that’s exactly what happened in March, 2020. The top scientific bureaucratic in the United States were advising the American government that if you don’t lock down, you’re gonna get tremendous death. Politicians are looking and saying, well, I don’t want tremendous death on my watch. I’m just gonna follow what the scientific advisors saying and saying I’m following science. And that’s how we got into this trap. Debbie Birx, who I think Mike Pence selected to be the head of the White House task force on Coronavirus, she went around the country scaring the living daylights outta governors with these charts projecting how many people were gonna die in each state if he didn’t lock down. All of those charts were based on assumptions that they had no idea were true, and none of them displayed the actual harms of the lockdowns apart from the supposed benefits from COVID.

It was so one-sided it’s this scientific bureaucracy that I blamed the most, Liz. I think that they were irresponsible in not seeking outside opinions and thoughts from other qualified scientists. Instead, they thought that they knew best, right? So you got Tony Fauci going around saying, if you question me you’re not simply questioning a man, you’re questioning science itself. You remember he said that I think it was to Rand Paul or some interviewer. Just think about the hubris of that. It is shocking. It is absolutely shocking. And I think that’s the attitude that those scientific bureaucrats had when they were advising politicians in our country, and frankly almost every other country. It was essentially a grab of power in the name of public health. When I saw Tony Fauci sitting there at the presidential podium next to President Trump in that first March press conference that announced the state of emergency lockdowns, my thought was, well, we no longer have a President. I mean, Tony Fauci is the defacto President of the United States.

Hm. Listen, Dr. Bhattacharya, you are a gentleman and a scholar, and more importantly, you’re a nicer person than I am because you just gave a smack down to these people without being the slightest bit rude. I’m over here like, this deputy of Tony Fauci, who went to China and got fooled by the Chinese listening to their presentations in Beijing instead of seeing what’s on the ground at Wuhan, that’s devastatingly dumb. That’s unforgivable for someone who works in the public eye like this. And you talk about the scientific community, or the hierarchy of the scientific community, Dr. Fauci, in a sense, being on the top of that, I guess I’ve heard a lot of analysis and hypothesis about the money that Fauci controls, being one of the reasons why a lot of other people in science didn’t speak out, because they don’t wanna risk losing the grants that they get from the NIH, the NIAID, and Fauci who controls all of that. Is that the root of the corruption, the Big Pharma money that Fauci is essentially in bed with, that he doles out to the scientific community? And anybody who dissents is just eliminated from being able to pursue science with funding with the government? Is that the root of that corruption?

It is definitely the root of his power. I’ll say, it’s not just pharma money. It’s actually taxpayer money that he doles out. He sits on I think $7 billion of taxpayer money. The NIH as a whole is $45 billion of taxpayer money, and it funds nearly every single biomedical scientist of note in this country, and in fact around the world. But it’s not even the money, Liz, that’s the key thing. It’s, actually the social status that’s conferred by getting an NIH grant. I mean, it’s one thing if you get a pharma grant. That actually automatically, in the world of public health, taints you a little bit, like you’re somehow conflicted because you’ve got pharma money, but if you get NIH money, that’s clean money, not just clean money, it’s money that confers a status that you have arrived as a social scientist, right?

So I’m a professor, a full-tenure professor at the School of Medicine at Stanford. I don’t get tenure unless I get an NIH grant. It’s almost a requirement. It’s not enough to just get money from any source. It’s like a stamp of approval, essentially. So when someone like Tony Fauci, who’s been at the head of the NIH for 38 years he says, look, we have to do this policy, those lockdowns. If you don’t agree with me, you’re opposed to science itself. A lot of scientists, even if they don’t say it directly out loud or won’t even admit it directly to themselves, but this is really what’s happening. They feel in their bones that if they speak out a against what Tony Fauci is saying, even if they disagree, they’re putting their career at risk.

It’s not just they lose their grants. They lose their social status within the hierarchy of biomedical sciences. It’s a tremendous power. And it’s the power that Tony Fauci and Francis Collins abused during the pandemic because they were so certain they were right, that even when they were prominent scientists on the other side from them saying, no, let’s slow down. Let’s have a debate, let’s have a discussion of what scientific evidence is saying, they used their power to organize essentially a smear campaign, a media smear campaign Big Tech censorship campaign against scientists that disagreed with them. I might have been wrong. It’s possible. I don’t think I was wrong about the lockdowns. In fact, I’m not certain. I was right about the lockdowns being not particularly effective at stopping disease spread and tremendously damaging.

But I might have been wrong. Why didn’t they just have a debate about those lockdowns in April of 2020, October 2020, when I wrote the great grant declaration? Why didn’t they invite at least some subset of the scientists with tens of thousands of scientists assigned on the great grant declaration to a debate? They weren’t interested in discussion. They weren’t interested in having their views challenged. They were so certain they were right, and that anyone that opposed them was either a crank, a pseudo scientist, or actively wanting damage to the vulnerable people. It was the height of hubris and sitting atop this vast pile of money, taxpayer-funded money, with the obligation, the mission to fund scientific work. Instead, they use that power to suppress scientific discussion.

Which is shocking to hear, it’s shocking to hear this. The reason that I say that big pharma is tied into this is because there are researchers at the NIH who funded by the NIH, that then have patents that belong to the NIH that are licensed out to pharma. So Fauci and the NIH then profit from their employees of the NIH that profit on a yearly basis off of royalties of these patents that they created using taxpayer-funded grants, but then are sold to Big Pharma. We saw the effects of this with the early interventions, the hydroxychloroquine, the ivermectin, that for some reason, though they were effective in many cases, were squashed so severely by the public health establishment. And the theory there was that Fauci needed emergency use authorization for his vaccine, and there can’t be any other treatment that’s workable if he is to obtain that emergency use authorization. Did that factor into it?

I think certainly it’s impossible to rule out lists. I think you’re right. And in particular, the fact that you say is right researchers can get patents, and that those patents for pharmaceutical and those patents can pay out. So I guess I’d say a couple of things. One, is I’m an economist. I have a PhD in economics in addition to my medical degree, so it’s impossible for me to rule out financial incentives having some role. Of course, they played some role. And in particular, I agree with you also that it’s puzzling, unless you understand these financial incentives, as to why did the NIAID not invest in rapid evaluation, with high-quality randomized studies, of cheap, off-patent drugs that looked promising like ivermectin and others, others whereas they invested a lot in on-patent drugs like remdesivir that Gilead had.

That’s a mystery unless you understand that there was some pharmaceutical company interest at play in the decision-making by that’s true. I agree. But I have to say, I’m a little skeptical about someone like Tony Fauci. I don’t think he’s motivated by money primarily, Liz. I think he’s motivated primarily by his reputation and his world historic reputation. He wants to be remembered as the person that saved Americans, saved the world, from COVID with the support of the vaccine, his wise guidance about lockdowns and so on, right? He wants to be known as the next Jonas Salk, the one who developed the polio vaccine that essentially saved so many kids from being paralyzed in the mid-20th century.

He cares more about his reputation than he does about money, I think. Now, I don’t know him personally, this is just my reading of from the outside. This is part of why I part, by the way, the appropriate way to essentially assess Fauci to address what happened at least with respect to Tony Fauci, is to correct the historical record. He should go down in history, as far as COVID policy goes, as a catastrophic failure. What he recommended, what he did resulted in a tremendous loss of life during the pandemic our societies to fracture in ways that will have tremendous, negative consequences for a generation of vulnerable people, for working class people, especially worldwide. I think the generational poverty caused by these lockdowns, well, that’s on leaders like Tony Fauci, who recommended them without understanding what their knock on consequences were gonna be. I think that’s the worst punishment that you could imagine him having, and I think he’s fully deserving of that.

That’s well-deserved. That would be, if he got that. I think one of the lingering questions that I have, and I know that this is shared by a lot of Americans, and this is not just true for COVID, this is true for other things that turned out to be in alignment with the leftist ideology, whether it’s puberty-blocking hormone therapy for children with gender disorders, whether it’s Critical Race Theory in the name of health equity, or health equity in the name of Critical Race Theory, people wonder how the preeminent medical institutions, whether these are medical schools, whether these are medical research universities, whether these are hospitals, whether they’re the governing organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Medical Association. People wonder how those organizations, who have tremendous influence on both public health, but also the medical care, the recommendations, the standards of care that we all experience with our families every time we have a health issue, we wonder how it got so completely corrupted with very, very radical leftist ideology, not just the little left-leaning, not just your traditional Democrat, but almost neo-Marxist in their ideology.

Do you have an answer for how that happened?

So I guess the way I characterize this is, first, and we already talked about this earlier, the vast majority of people who work in public health are left-leaning. But they don’t think of themselves as political. That’s just the water they swim in, right? So you don’t know if you’re a fish, you’re swimming in water. They just think that’s normal. The kind of social norms that in their social circles are the normal ones, and that people that disagree with them that may have different values than them, religious values or whatnot, are somehow other. That, by itself, actually creates a situation where public health cannot succeed, right? Public health is not like politics, right? If I win 50% plus one in politics, I’m a successful politician.

I get elected office. Public health has to reach everybody. It’s one of these things where if you’re not trusted by even 5%, 10% of the population, you failed in public health. Public health has to be for everybody. What that means, then, is you have to respect the values and norms of everybody, whether you disagree with them politically or not. And the other thing that’s going on here is that there’s this idea and you’ve seen it very clearly during the pandemic, that somehow science itself has an answer for how society ought to be organized, as an answer to all of these very, very complicated questions when in fact, puberty blockers, example, I don’t think they’re a very good idea, but there are people who disagree with me within medicine, I guess.

Is it really just a scientific question? It’s not, right? It’s something else beyond the scientific question. And there’s tremendous values that people have that are important in terms of how they react to these things that are important. Now, how should public health react to the fact that there are people who disagree based on values that they deeply hold and are common in society? You can’t just say, well, those values are wrong. You’re evil. You’re like some horrible right-winger that should be shunned in public health. You have to account for that in how you act. You have to treat everybody with respect, even if you disagree with them on their values.

I never signed up for a political party for this reason, Liz. I figured, I’m working public health. I’m gonna find research findings that sometimes folks on the Right might like, I’m gonna find research findings that sometimes people on the Left will like, I don’t have any control over what the data show when I start a study. I don’t know the answer to the study when I start it, or else why would I do a study in the first place, right? And I don’t have any control over how people use it after the study results. I’m just a scientist. Public health, I think, and you can see this clearly during the pandemic, has adopted this almost moralizing attitude that if you disagree with them politically, that somehow you’re evil. That by itself is a good explanation for why public health failed so badly during the pandemic. The basic professional obligation it has to treat everybody with respect, even people within the society, even people that they may personally disagree with politically, they failed at that. And that’s been a tremendous problem. And it’s caused, I think, deep distrust in public health, which is gonna make it basically impossible for public health to do a good job for a very long time until they address it.

Hmm. I think that’s very insightful, because basically the contrast is you’re describing public health versus social engineering. And for better or for worse, public health has morphed into trying to engineer our society to fit their political beliefs. I wanna circle around to where we began. We began with the Twitter files. We began with the fact that when you did dissent from the public health establishment, when you did follow the science instead of ideology, you were immediately blacklisted on Twitter. Fast forward almost three years, Elon Musk has revealed the proof that you were on a trends blacklist. Elon invited you to Twitter headquarters, did he not?

He did. He did. That was really interesting.

Yeah, that must’ve been a crazy experience.

I got a message from a common friend of ours who said he had a Christmas present for me. And so I called him up and he is like, Elon wants to have you come to the headquarters. To the headquarters. I’m like, okay. I actually was supposed to write a final for my class that I’m teaching. Like, okay, crap, I guess I’ll have to do that after I get back. And so I arrived on Saturday afternoon. I was there until, like. 9:00 PM. I met with a Twitter engineer at first, and we went and I saw that they have this really interesting-looking tool, where you can click and see sort of the history of the status of my account.

That’s how I found out that the apprentice blacklist was applied when I first signed on to Twitter, the first day. And it even said, like, there are multiple people complaining about me, like what had I done other than post a link to the Great Barrington Declaration arguing for focus protection of vulnerable people. That’s why I think Twitter didn’t do this on its own. And it also said I applied for that blue check mark that I think you have, Liz, on Twitter. Like it says, you’re an official, verified person. I applied three times for it and never got it. And it turned out because each time, there was a note in that tool, it said that I didn’t meet notability standards. I wasn’t notable enough, even though I’m a professor at the medical school in, like, all the, I used to be a quiet professor, Liz. I’d never wrote an op-ed before 2020. I mean, I was notable in my field, but not notable publicly. But since 2020, I’m on all these new shows, you’d think, but no, but I wasn’t notable enough, which is fine, I guess. I’m a fringe epidemiologist, so it’s all good.

I’m sorry. It’s hard not to laugh because it’s an absurd justification for what we know is just political bias. It is funny, though.

It was. Anyway, so then Elon gave me an hour of his time, which was remarkable, actually, because, you know, the man’s, wow, he’s running four companies, I guess. We talked about the censorship. He bought the company because he is offended by this censorship and Twitter’s central role in that censorship. This is why he’s putting himself, putting the company, I think, at legal jeopardy by having all this openness, this transparency about what went on. But he spent those $44 billion for Twitter because he wanted to make sure that American society can be open again to free speech. That’s what’s motivating him. And he did seem…

Committed to that principle?

Absolutely. He even made a joke like, you know, I could’ve spent the $44 billion on a Pacific island or something. But what he wanted to do is, and he says this, he wanted to save civilization. And I agree with him on this. The regime that we’re currently under in the United States where there really isn’t a First Amendment. There really isn’t free speech that is a danger not just in the United States, but the whole world. The world looks to us as a place where free speech can happen, where new ideas can come out, even if they’re not approved by the powers that be that can be debated openly. Look, just an example. And I think that’s what motivated Elon, is to try to restore that to the United States.

He also is a naturalized citizen like me. And so the other thing is, it was also clear he was against the lockdowns from the very beginning of the pandemic, like he moved his factory, his Tesla factory, from California, which was locked down in the early days of the pandemic, to Texas, or moved headquarters, I guess. He also understood it was really clear the harms of the lockdowns to the poor of the world. And so we spent a lot of time talking about that, about why I oppose lockdowns. So I came away quite impressed. I think he is doing this for the right reasons. I mean, there’s hiccups and obviously complications with running Twitter.

Well, it was interesting, like before that, before I got to talk to him for an hour, I sat outside this conference room where he was finishing up a meeting with a whole bunch of Twitter engineers. And some of them I got to talk with, and I asked him like, how long is he gonna be there? How long does he normally stay? And it was a Saturday night. They all told me he’s gonna be there till 3:00 AM working. The guy’s an engineer. That’s what he really likes to do at heart. A lot of this is like, he’s taken this on as essentially like a rescue mission. But he just wants to be an engineer. I think.

Well, I can’t help but sit here and wonder, Dr. Bhattacharya, what our country and the world would look like today, nearly three years after COVID happened, if someone like you had been in charge of public health versus Dr. Fauci. I greatly appreciate you coming on the show today and having this conversation. It was fascinating, and I highly encourage you, don’t go back to being that quiet professor. We need your voice in our country. It is a public service to us all that you are doing what you’re doing. So thank you for being here, sir.

Thank you, Liz, and thank you. I’m grateful that even early in the pandemic, you were willing to talk with me. I appreciate that.

Of course, of course. Your work early in the pandemic was one of the greatest influences in me seeing what the science was about COVID and being able to counter the public health establishment. So had you not published that, who knows, who knows where we’d be now? Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

Thank you, Liz. Take care.

All right guys. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show. If you like to listen to podcasts, go to Apple Podcast or Spotify, hit that subscribe button. If you like to watch podcasts, go to Rumble.com/LizWheeler, hit that subscribe button. I greatly appreciate everybody. Appreciate everybody who’s been subscribing. Thank you for watching today. Thank you for listening. I’m Liz Wheeler. This is The Liz Wheeler Show.

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