News anchor John Berman asked Fauci if there was existing science behind preventing fully vaccinated people from travelling. The director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) answered: "When you don't have the data and … the actual evidence, you've got to make a judgment call." Fauci continued that Americans will just have to trust the public health body's guidance for COVID-19.
Fauci's comments followed a report that the CDC is "graciously allowing" Americans who already received COVID-19 vaccines some "limited freedoms." Many did not take the report too kindly, pointing out on social media that the public health body is in no position to grant God-given freedoms.
The NIAID director's admission that there was no science behind continued lockdowns did not dissuade him from warning states that loosened coronavirus restrictions. Fauci exhorted Americans to stick to existing public health measures amid new infection spikes in Europe, CNBC reported on March 14. The infectious disease expert also warned that the U.S.'s battle with the Wuhan coronavirus "is not in the end zone yet."
"When I hear [states] pulling back completely on public health measures, saying no more masks, no nothing like that, that is risky business," he said during a Meet the Press interview. Pulling away from public health measures could prolong the pandemic, he continued. During a subsequent Fox News appearance, Fauci explained that relaxation of safety measures played a part in the recent spike in COVID-19 cases throughout Europe. (Related: Fauci claims mandatory Wuhan coronavirus quarantines are "justified" – but not those for Ebola.)
The World Health Organization (WHO), which initially advocated lockdowns, eventually did a complete 180-degree turn after seeing the economic impact of these mandates. WHO Special Envoy on COVID-19 Dr. David Nabarro said the global health body "does not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus." (Related: WHO reverses course, again: Lockdowns as primary response to COVID-19 now said to be "damaging".)
Some officials of the global health body had earlier said that lockdowns were necessary to contain the pandemic. In April 2020, WHO Western Pacific Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai said lockdowns were going to be the "new normal," and that people must adapt their lives and health systems alongside the current situation. WHO Health Emergencies Program Executive Director Dr. Michael Ryan warned in July 2020 that countries that fail to address early signs of resurging COVID-19 outbreaks could have full lockdowns as the "only option" available.
According to Nabarro, the only time a lockdown should be justified is when countries need to reorganize their efforts, rebalance their resources and protect their exhausted health workers. Otherwise, he suggested that countries develop "better systems" for controlling the pandemic, "work together" and "learn from each other."
Another expert espoused Nabarro's sentiments against stringent lockdowns. Stanford University professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya called COVID-19 lockdowns "the single worst public health mistake in the last 100 years." He commented: "We will be counting the catastrophic health and psychological harms imposed on nearly every poor person on the face of the earth for a generation."
According to Bhattacharya, areas that imposed the most draconian lockdown laws were ironically unsuccessful in containing the spread of COVID-19. Citing the U.S. as an example, the professor said lockdowns "protected the 'non-essential' class from COVID while exposing the essential working class to the disease." A better option would have been to implement policies designed to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly instead of putting entire populations under arrest, Bhattacharya added.
"Lockdowns themselves impose great harm on people: [They] are not a natural, normal way to live," the Stanford University professor ultimately remarked.