In reading Scott Atlas book, A Plague Upon Our House, the reader is given the inside story of the Trump response to the Covid pandemics and what become obvious, the mistakes caused by our scientific class.
Atlas details the debate within the administration but what becomes obvious is that neither Trump nor Pence had control of the bureaucracy as Debbie Birks and Anthony Fauci did essentially what they wanted and never considered the results of their failures. Trump failed to rein Fauci or Birks as they determine policy.
Trump from the beginning was not sold on the original lockdown but he depended upon his experts but as Atlas noted, Birks along with Robert Redfern, the CDC head, fail to comprehend the virus they were dealing with.
Original debate in the Trump White House in January of 2020, how serious was Covid? It was Peter Navarro who viewed this the second coming of Spanish flu and felt this could have massive impact on the economy. It was Fauci and other of the scientific class within the administration who viewed this lightly. (Part of Fauci problem is that he believed the Chinese propaganda that it was not serious but then we will find out Fauci and others within the NIH were supporting with American tax dollars gain of function research.) This was a debate with models beginning to support the original Navarro position that this could be the Spanish flu repeat which would have resulted in at least two million people
In February, Fauci and Redfern stated the IFR would be between .1 to 1 percent which proved correct but by March Fauci was telling Congress this was ten times worse than the flu. The lockdown originally advertised as short term to reduce overcrowding at the hospitals, but it turned into a stricter economic restriction that threw millions of people out of work.
Fauci and Birks strategy of “stopping virus in its track” was a disaster from day one and unattainable goal that they should have known unattainable.
Atlas along with others like Martin Kulldorf, Jay Bhattacharya, and John Ioannidis feared the potential lockdowns and economic restrictions would be worse for America and lead to economic dislocation, more deaths from untreated chronic diseases, impact on younger workers and blue-collar workers who could not afford to say home as well the impact on learning of children not in school.
Much of their concern have been validated but Atlas view of his colleague is worth reviewing since it coincides with my upcoming book, America at the Abyss. He noted how much of the scientist within the government like Birks and Fauci were not even up to date on the latest research and hung on the losing strategy no matter the cost. Atlas also concluded that politics colored much of the response.
The key argument he made included:
- Protecting the most vulnerable, reduce testing to those with symptoms and the elderly and nursing homes.
- The data was showing that children rarely got seriously ill and even the CDC data showed that the flu was more likely to kill children than Corona virus.
- The elderly was impact far greater than the younger health population along with those with underlying conditions.
- Schools should be open, and the data backed that up.
- The politicization of science made it difficult to have reasonable discussion and many ideas were being censored.
- The economic price was too high and the much of the middle class, small businesses, blue collar workers, minorities paid the brunt of the attack.
- The virus IFR overall was significantly lower than what was being touted in March of 2020 in the range of .2 to .4. Fauci original NEJM article was closer to the truth than his congressional testimony in March in which he declared the virus to be ten times as bad as the flu.
- Lockdown and economic restrictions did not at all reduce the transmission.
- Mask mandates were ineffectual.
Atlas noted that Birks who mostly was in charge and Fauci often went against the desire of the President whose own gut instincts proved right more often than not.
- He had doubts about impact of the lockdown and economic restrictions but Birks consistently were telling governors to continue the restrictions. Mixed messaging was the problem with the Task Force mostly doing what they wanted in spite of the policy above.
- Many in the White House did not want to rock to the boat and push Birks to stay within the stated policies
- Pence deferred to Birks and rarely challenged her when she stepped on the stated policies of opening up the economy quicker, along with schools. Nor did she buy into the protect the elderly first and allow younger workers to go about their lives
- Trump and Pence failure to keep their own task force focused on their goals not the task force goals was not just a disaster but led to unnecessary suffering still going on.
My own view is that we can compare Trump, Pence and DeSantis on leadership based on this. DeSantis controlled his task force and got them on the page he wanted, they failed. Pence in particular did not do is job in dealing with the task force and Trump rarely pushed it
Vaccines themselves proved effective at reducing deaths and hospitalizations but like previous vaccines for flu, its potency waned and did very little to stop the transmission of the virus. It was oversold, a point made by Kevin Roche of Heathy Skeptic who predicted much of what would happen on his website the Healthy Skeptic.
Carol Roth notes in her book the impact of the pandemic on smaller businesses as government policies in her view purposedly favor big business at the expense of smaller business. As she noted, “We were not all in this together” and that restrictions allowed bigger business-like Wal mart and Amazon to increase their share while smaller business declined.
Below are books
What really happened in Wuhan A virus like no other countless infections, millions of deaths by Sharri Markson
Atlas Plague on our House
The War on small business how the government use the pandemic to crush the backbone of America Carol Roth
When Politicians panicked The New Coronavirus expert opinion and the tragic lapse of REASON John Tamny