Two major pandemics marked the beginning and end of Fauci’s career. The first time, he used science to bridge political divides and won the support of the largest alliance and cooperation. The second time, he lost, defeated by people’s lack of belief. Fracture consumed all voices of reason, including science. Perhaps, we have lost the narrative that we once had, and therefore, we can no longer reach the other side of the fracture.
In the last two years, Fauci experienced a brief sense of “liberation” during the Biden administration, being able to freely discuss science without interference from the new government. The debates between natural infection and vaccine administration continued, and anti-vaccine sentiments remained loud. However, the host gradually gained the upper hand in the battle against the pathogen. It wasn’t until May 5th when the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 was no longer considered a global public health emergency, marking the end of an acute state.
Modern medical technology has demonstrated remarkable influence. Within a few weeks, the virus genome was identified, and multiple COVID-19 vaccines were developed in less than a year. Antiviral drugs blossomed, whereas the shortest development time for a vaccine previously took four years. Looking back a century ago, people relied almost solely on their bodies to withstand the virus invasion. At least, this was an intellectual victory.
However, the social wounds exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have not healed rapidly. We endlessly argue without reaching a consensus, and without a shared goal, mutual understanding becomes difficult.
Perhaps it cannot be said that Fauci did everything a scientist could do; he had his obvious weaknesses. Was he brave or cowardly? Some criticized him for not resigning publicly and giving Trump a resounding slap in the face. But in an era where science was powerless, how many could do such a thing? What can we do for science? The bell tolls for a pandemic, and we cannot predict the passage of time.