Sarah Daley: Dr. Fauci has long record of credibility |

Sarah Daley: Dr. Fauci has long record of credibility

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a respected scientist and immunologist since going to work for the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases in 1968 and becoming its director in 1984. He has been the chief medical adviser to six presidents — both Republican and Democrat — since then.

According to Wikipedia, he as made has made contributions to HIV/AIDS research and other immunodeficiency diseases both as a research scientist and as the head of the institute. He applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika.

From 1983 to 2002, Fauci was one of the world’s most frequently cited scientists across all scientific journals. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, for his work on the AIDS relief program.

He became a public figure only when President Trump appointed him to the White House Coronavirus Task Force and he realized that he needed to give Americans accurate information about COVID-19, since Trump was not doing so during his press conferences.

Given Fauci’s public service to Americans for 53 years as a scientist, it is confusing — and grossly unfair — why some Republicans and Fox News broadcasters are criticizing him now when he has a long history of doing good work in relative anonymity.

He does not have a pattern of behavior that shows him to be the person Sen. Rand Paul and Fox News are accusing him of being. If he did, we would have heard about him before, and he would not be working at, let alone directing, the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

The one possible mistake Fauci made was to overestimate Americans’ understanding of how science works. This is why some Americans incorrectly interpreted his change of guidance from not needing to wear a mask to needing to wear one as “flip flopping,” like politicians do.

If Americans understood how the scientific method worked, we would understand that it is a self-correcting system of how they get accurate information.

As Dr. James Candor says, “Of course science has been wrong: That is its very method, using improving instrumentation and and accumulating observations to self-correct. We know science is wrong from better science.”

This is why Fauci informed us to wear a mask when he had new evidence that it would help us to stop spreading the virus. He did not mind being wrong about what he said before because that was how science worked. Once he got different and better evidence that we should be wearing masks, he said so.

He was acting like a good scientist and a good public servant by sharing his new information with us. Not to have told us would have been ethically and morally wrong.

Some Americans who are not scientists believe they can do their own research about COVID-19 and other scientific matters by using the internet. To become a good scientist takes years of education, an understanding of how science works, and the ability to understand complicated scientific research papers.

To understand viruses in particular requires a specialty in biochemistry. Dr. Fauci studied four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, studied in medical school to become a doctor and an immunologist, joined a lab, and continues to work as a scientist every day while simultaneously directing the institute.

Public health scientists likewise earned either a master’s and/or a PhD in this field. They spend years studying a problem, form a hypothesis, gather evidence, test the hypothesis, form conclusions, report findings, clear the peer review, publish findings, all before the press reports the scientific information.

Under those circumstances, how can a person claim to understand science better than a scientist by doing their “research” over the internet?

I hope Americans who are tarnishing Fauci’s name, and those who are sending him and his family death threats, will one day realize how wrong they were to insult him and threaten him.

I also hope that they can understand that he, other public health scientists, medical doctors, and scientists who earned a master’s and/or a PhD in this field, understand science better than they do.

Sarah Daley lives in Grass Valley.

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