This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave an interview to the BBC in which he declared that older people, the ill, and disabled people “will fall by the wayside” in the current surge of COVID-19. Fauci was not warning about what would happen unless urgent action was taken. Rather, he was seeking to justify the Biden administration’s policy of inaction and cover-up in the face of a new surge of the disease.
Fauci’s comments reiterate the declaration in January 2022 by Centers for Disease Control director Rochelle Walensky that the fact that COVID-19 predominantly kills people who are “unwell to begin with” is “encouraging news.” The statements by both Walensky and Fauci implied that the lives of chronically ill and disabled people were less valuable than healthy ones.
In accepting the mass infection policy, Fauci has suffered a complete moral collapse. He is capitulating to the fascist ideologues who have long advocated allowing the coronavirus to spread without limit. His statements will be viewed for years to come as an example of the demise of public health efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of eugenicist conceptions within dominant sections of the US political establishment.
Fauci’s statement reflects the fact that the Biden administration and the governments of the wealthiest capitalist countries throughout the world have adopted an unstated but nonetheless deliberate policy of social murder, targeting older, chronically ill, and disabled people. It amounts to a form of homicidal eugenics, reminiscent of the Nazi regime’s policy of murdering handicapped people.
Fauci was speaking under conditions in which wastewater data indicates that COVID-19 cases have more than tripled over the course of the past two months, while COVID-19 hospital admissions have more than doubled. This is the first surge after the Biden administration stopped counting COVID-19 cases on May 11 with the aim of reducing public knowledge of the spread of the disease, leaving the United States essentially flying blind in the face of a major new surge.
Asked, “How serious could it get again,” Fauci sought to downplay the dangers by asserting that he believes, but does not know for certain, that the present surge of COVID-19 will see fewer hospitalizations and deaths than past surges.
Fauci claimed, “96 percent or more of the population has some degree of immunity, either through prior infection or through vaccines, or both.” He continued,
“I doubt very seriously whether you’re going to see the hospital and death surge that we’ve seen in the past, even if we get a surge of infections, because there’s enough fundamental community-level protection, that even though you’ll find the vulnerable will fall by the wayside. They’ll get infected, they’ll get hospitalized and some will die. It’s not going to be the tsunami of cases that we’ve seen.”
Who are these “vulnerable” people, who will be left to die on the side of the road?
In the United States, approximately 45.4 percent of the population are at heightened risk of complications from COVID-19 due to having at least one of six comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, asthma, hypertension and/or cancer. When factors exacerbating the risk from COVID-19, like autoimmune diseases, obesity, and organ transplant, and being over over 65, are added to this list, the list of groups that will be left to “fall by the wayside” grows to significantly more than half of the population and approaches two-thirds.
And if we remember the observation by Shakespeare that “all the world’s a stage” in which “one man in his time plays many parts,” all people will become “vulnerable” as they grow older amid a perpetual pandemic.
Fauci, who is 82 years old, does not mention that he is part of the group, along with US President Joe Biden (Age 80), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (80), and the half of US senators who are over 65 years old.
Perhaps, in their total hubris, these policymakers except themselves from the disastrous consequences of their own actions.
Fauci, who had for years been a target of fascist attacks for having advocated during the Trump administration for measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, has embraced the doctrine of “herd immunity.” This is the conception advocated by Trump in 2020 that if enough people get COVID-19, the virus will go away, and that the deaths of older people, the ill, and the disabled are an acceptable cost of preserving the profit interests of major corporations.
The doctrine of “herd immunity,” embodied in the infamous statement expressed by Trump administration official Paul Alexander that “we want them infected,” holds that infection with COVID-19 is a positive good, as it protects the population from further infection and will lead to an end of the pandemic.
The right-wing ideologues who advocate a “herd immunity” response to COVID-19 see the death of the elderly either as a matter of indifference, or as a positive good.
The greatest argument against the proponents of “herd immunity” is the actual experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, which confirms the warnings made by the World Health Organization in October 2020 that “herd immunity” is not a scientifically viable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at that time. “Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic. It is scientifically and ethically problematic.”
To bolster his claim, the WHO director raised the prospect—at that time hypothetical—that people might become ill with COVID-19 twice, as well as mounting reports of what he said is “now being described as Long COVID.”
Three years after these statements were made, we know that reinfection with COVID-19 is not a notional possibility, but the rule. People in frontline positions, including teachers and health care workers, have reported being infected three, four, or five times.
We know that each infection with COVID-19 progressively damages major organ systems, including the immune system, brain, and circulatory system. In other words, by allowing COVID-19 to circulate freely, the population that Fauci describes as vulnerable is constantly increasing.
Finally, when Dr. Ghebreyesus made these warnings, the ability of COVID-19 to mutate to overcome existing immunity was largely hypothetical. Over the next three years, a sea of new COVID-19 variants have shown that no amount of “population immunity” will prevent significant new surges of COVID-19.
Advocates of mass infection have repeatedly increased the share of the population that must be infected to allow the disease to return to “manageable” levels. First it was 50 percent, then it was 70 percent, then 80 percent, then 90 percent. Now, with Fauci declaring that virtually the entire population—96 percent—has “immunity” to COVID-19, schools throughout the country are being shut down not as a preventive precaution, but because too many staff are ill to keep them open.
Shamefully, leading World Health Organization officials have repudiated their own condemnation of governments’ mass infection policy, ending its COVID-19 public health emergency declaration in May, and this week shutting down its weekly COVID-19 briefings.
The ruling class’s strategy of a “perpetual pandemic” has produced a disaster. In the United States alone, 1.1 million people are dead, and tens of millions more have had their health destroyed by Long COVID. Now, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging, even before the new, highly-contagious B.1.1.7 variant, the most highly mutated version of the disease to date, has begun to widely circulate.
The open turn to eugenics by the ruling class expresses a fundamental reality that is dawning on millions of people: Capitalism is incompatible with the social rights of the great mass of humanity.
Ending the pandemic requires the intervention of the working class. In response to the ruling class’s strategy of mass infection, “herd immunity” and the perpetual pandemic, the working class must take forward the struggle for the elimination and eradication of COVID-19.