Seven questions for Covid-19 ‘expert’ Francis Collins

A resurfaced video of former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins has been making the rounds on social media this week, providing a stark reminder that ‘the experts’ are still due their reckoning for the reckless Covid-era policies they long foisted on the rest of us.

“If you’re a public health person, and you’re trying to make a decision, you have this very narrow view of what the right decision is, and that is something that will save a life,” Collins concedes in the clip.

“Doesn’t matter what else happens, so you attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life. You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never might quite recover from. Collateral damage. This is a public health mindset. And I think a lot of us involved in trying to make those recommendations had that mindset — and that was really unfortunate, it’s another mistake we made.”

It is a breath-taking admission, almost too monumental to fully comprehend — not least because nobodies like me endured years of public ridicule for stating precisely the same point, on repeat, since 2020.

And it wasn’t just me.

Three of the world’s top medical minds — University of Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, Stanford University medical professor Jay Bhattacharya and Harvard University medical professor Martin Kulldorff — penned the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020.

In it, they pleaded with Francis Collins and his ilk, who were at the time (by Collins’ own admission) totally disrupting people’s lives, ruining the economy, keeping kids out of school in a way they never might recover from and causing other untold collateral damage to make a public health policy about-turn, and quick.

More lives will ultimately be saved, they urged in their declaration, if focussed protection were provided to the vulnerable, while those at low risk were able to get back to their daily lives.

Not just ignored, Gupta, Bhattacharya and Kulldorff were mocked and censored — by none other than Francis Collins.

In an email since made public via FOI to then-NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, Collins labelled the trio “fringe epidemiologists”. He then called for “a quick and devastating published take down” of their ideas to harden public opinion against them.

A compliant media obliged, and the rest, as they say, is history.



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However, with Collins’ admission now firmly in the public domain, I have some questions for him.

1 -- As a public health expert, what led you to believe that assigning infinite value to saving a life, regardless of any collateral damage that might result, was good public health policy? Did you ever consider conducting a cost-benefit analysis before recommending months of rolling lockdowns?

2 -- Why did you decide to smear and silence Gupta, Bhattacharya and Kulldorff instead of debating them? Bhattacharya and Kulldorff have both confirmed that they extended the offer of a debate to you, so why did you reject it? In the words of Dr Vinay Prasad:

“You were the NIH Director. You could have had a series of Town Halls where you invited people like Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff and had an open discussion of the pros and cons. You could have put them on YouTube. You have the powers of the federal government. You held zero debates. You just went on TV and you said proclamation after proclamation… You never tried to minimize uncertainty. You never brought anyone to the table who might disagree with you.”

3 -- Why did it take three years for you to finally admit you were wrong? And what ultimately prompted your epiphany?

4 -- What makes your admission acceptable today, when in 2020 and 2021 it would almost universally have been regarded as divisive and dangerous? Has the truth changed, or do you concede that your critics were right from the outset?

5 -- If your mistakes were due to a lack of good scientific data early in the pandemic — or to borrow a popular phrase, if “science evolves” — why did you recommend rule-by-mandate? Wouldn’t scientific blind spots by definition demand the public be given choice rather than mandates?

6 -- Not to belabour the point, but if “science evolves”, what led you to believe that silencing alternative viewpoints from world-renowned experts would help rather than hinder this process?

7 -- What legal consequences, if any, do you believe you deserve for actively stifling sound public health policy? How can accountability for leaders like you today help safeguard the public from overbearing health bureaucrats tomorrow?

It is hard to improve on the words of Brownstone Institute President Jeffrey Tucker in his recent column “The Year that Expertise Collapsed”:

It felt like a coup detat of sorts. It certainly was an intellectual coup. All wisdom of the past, even that known by public health only months earlier, was deleted from public spaces. Dissent was silenced…

All the while, we kept thinking that there must be some rationale behind all this madness. It never emerged. It was all intimidation and belligerence and nothing more — arbitrary diktat by big shots who were pretending the entire time…

As it turns out, these experts who ruled our lives, and still do to a great extent, were never what they claimed to be, and never actually possessed knowledge that was superior to what existed within the cultural firmament of society. Instead, all they really had was power and a grand opportunity to play dictator.

To be sure, we need experts, perhaps even experts like Francis Collins. But we need them for their knowledge and experience, not their misguided attempts to censor countervailing viewpoints or enforce ideological conformity.

The entire point of experts is their expertise. Next time, it would be great if they used it. 

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor. 

Image credits: AI generated Pixlr  


Showing 4 reactions

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  • Juan Llor Baños
    commented 2024-01-07 07:11:05 +1100
    Congratulations – Great article
  • Marty Hayden
    commented 2024-01-03 05:45:19 +1100
    “Dr. Collins is an amatuer, a rookie that wants to play like the big boys.”
    Anthony Fauci
  • mrscracker
    Well, I think it at least takes some humility for Dr. Collins to reflect publicly back on his mistakes. That’s more than other Covid enforcers are willing to do. I think some are just waiting for the next infection-based opportunity to dictate again when, where & if we can conduct business, attend church go to school, etc.
    I knew some of Dr. Collins family years ago & people assume he comes from a typical Bible Belt evangelical upbringing & that’s just not the case. When we first begin on our Christian journey we do that from different starting points. Dr. Collins is still on his journey, just as we each are.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-01-02 17:42:28 +1100
    Collins’ strategy of defense sounds like: yes, we should not have established all those restrictions on personal liberty, but we did it based on good intentions.

    No! They lied to us and they are still lying.

    Collins’ and all the others should go to jail, which, of course, is not going to happen, because all the others are the majorities in our democracies and thus they rule.

    A clear case of conflict between truth and democracy.