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Opinion: The Fauci witch hunt intensifies while the next threat looms

Editor’s Note: Kent Sepkowitz is a physician and infectious disease expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinionon CNN.


Anyone eager to re-experience the acrimony, lunacy and danger of the early Covid-19 pandemic might want to watch a few hours of Monday’s hearing of the House Oversight Select Subcommitteeon the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Kent Sepkowitz

Members spent much of the day questioning Dr. Anthony Fauci, formerly head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and, among many other government roles, former chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden on Covid-19. The subcommittee previously had grilled Fauci during two days of closed-door testimony in January.

In their announcement for the hearing, the Republican majority made it clear that, rather than a standard after-action review to glean lessons learned as a means to inform the next public health crisis, their goal was to place Fauci once again onto the hot seat. As the subcommittee chairman, Dr. Brad Wenstrup, who is a podiatrist, said, the hearing was intended, among other things, to review Fauci “promoting singular, questionable narratives about the origins of Covid-19.”

During the long and exasperating hearing (I watched more than 3 hours), Republicans seemed hellbent on connecting US support of virus research that began in the Obama administration with the origin of the 2019 Covid-19 pandemic. Fauci was peppered repeatedly by questions that tried to hint at a supposedly nefarious role played by the US and/or Fauci himself. The still unsettled back story of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) apparently is viewed as a promising topic for political gain.