Two years ago, a slick video featuring a virologist named Judy Mikovitz attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci and America’s pandemic response instantly went viral. Mikovitz made some eye-popping claims, including that wearing masks were harmful because they “activated” the corona virus. The media was quick to label Mikovitz a nut job, and this article in a publication called Science provided considerable fodder.
Social media quickly yanked the video and dutifully censored anyone who repeated Mikovitz’s damning allegations. I managed to view the video before it was censored, and given the media’s uniform hostility towards Mikovitz, I wasn’t prepared to instantly dismiss all her claims. History shows that sometimes scientists dismissed as nut jobs one day are later heralded as heroes and geniuses. Galileo was one such scientist; another was Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, who was fired in 1846 for his then preposterous advocation that hand washing was one of the most important tools in public health, particularly for surgeons.
Semmelweis ended up in an asylum. Challenging conventional scientific and medical wisdom isn’t for the faint of heart.
The Mikovitz allegation that most disturbed me was that Covid patients were dying unnecessarily because they weren’t being given the proper drugs or treatment. Mikovitz was critical of hospitals putting covid patients on ventilators, a practice she claimed was financially motivated. I was taken aback when I discovered Mikovitz was right about the financial motive.
As noted by Republican Minnesota Senator and physician Scott Jensen and fact-checked by USA Today, hospitals treating a patient with garden-variety pneumonia – an ailment so common in elderly patients it’s known as “the old man’s friend” – received a mere $5,000 from Medicare. But if they classified a patient as suffering from Covid, they got $13,000. And if they put the patient on a ventilator, they got $39,000.
The public is blissfully unaware that supposedly “nonprofit” hospitals are very much driven by profits, which can be harmful to patients. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimated that health care fraud represents as much as $300 billion, or 10 percent of America’s annual health care outlay. And much of this fraud is for costly treatments that weren’t medically necessary.
Giving hospitals significant financial incentives to diagnose Covid and put the patient on a ventilator struck me as dangerous, particularly since in 2020 they suffered a major loss of revenues from the cancellation of lucrative surgeries. According to an analysis published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Covid deaths could have been reduced by as much as 50 percent had ventilators been used more sparingly to treat Covid patients.
Another serious Mikovitz allegation was that Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), held patents that were influencing public policy. That Fauci held patents struck me as a serious conflict and ethical breach, but that allegation proved correct as well.
A 2005 Associated Press story revealed that Fauci received payments relating to the development of interleukin 2 as a treatment for HIV/AIDS. Fauci claimed that he was required to have his name appear on the patents and acknowledged it was “inappropriate” to have received the royalties. He said he donated the money to charity.
The extent of Fauci’s royalty largesse isn’t publicly known, but indications are the monies could be considerable.
A report this week by Open the Books (OTB), a government watchdog group whose mandate is to investigate and disclose government spending, revealed that Fauci and his former boss, NIH chief Francis Collins, have received undetermined amounts of royalty payments from pharmaceutical companies and other interests.
Here are some excerpts from the report:
Last year, the National Institutes of Health – Anthony Fauci’s employer – doled out $30 billion in government grants to roughly 56,000 recipients. That largess of taxpayer money buys a lot of favor and clout within the scientific, research, and healthcare industries.
However, in our breaking investigation, we found hundreds of millions of dollars in payments also flow the other way. These are royalty payments from third-party payers (think pharmaceutical companies) back to the NIH and individual NIH scientists.
We estimate that between fiscal years 2010 and 2020, more than $350 million in royalties were paid by third-parties to the agency and NIH scientists – who are credited as co-inventors.
Because those payments enrich the agency and its scientists, each and every royalty payment could be a potential conflict of interest and needs disclosure.
Since the NIH documents are heavily redacted, we can only see how many payments each scientist received, and, separately, the aggregate dollars per NIH agency. This is a gatekeeping at odds with the spirit and perhaps the letter of open-records laws.
We found agency leadership and top scientists at NIH receiving royalty payments. Well-known scientists receiving payments during the period included:
- Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the highest-paid federal bureaucrat, received 23 royalty payments. (Fauci’s 2021 taxpayer-funded salary: $456,028).
- Francis Collins, NIH director from 2009-2021, received 14 payments. (Collins’ 2021 taxpayer-funded salary: $203,500)
- Clifford Lane, Fauci’s deputy at NIAID, received 8 payments. (Lane’s 2021 taxpayer-funded salary: $325,287)
In the above examples, although we know the number of payments to each scientist, we still don’t know how much money was paid – because the dollar figure was deleted (redacted) from the disclosures.
It’s been a struggle to get any useful information out of the agency on its royalty payments. NIH is acting like royalty payments are a state secret. (They’re not, or shouldn’t be!)
And here are the measures the U.S. government is taking to keep everything hush hush.
Consider how NIH is using taxpayer money to try and keep taxpayers ignorant and in the dark:
1. NIH defied the federal Freedom of Information Act law and refused to even acknowledge our open records request for the royalty payments. We filed our FOIA last September.
2. NIH used expensive taxpayer-funded litigation to slow-walk royalty disclosures (releasing the oldest royalties first). Although the agency admits to holding 3,000 pages, it will take ten months to produce them (300 pages per month). With Judicial Watch as our lawyers, we sued NIH in federal court last October.
3. NIH is heavily redacting key information on the royalty payments. For example, the agency erased 1. the payment amount, and, 2. who paid it! This makes the court-mandated production virtually worthless, despite our use of the latest forensic auditing tools.
NIH is essentially telling you, the taxpayer, to pay up and shut up. They’ll run things.
I’m not inclined to be charitable towards Fauci and Collins. The American Institute for Economic Research last December made public emails it obtained under FOIA that revealed Collins and Fauci openly discussed using the media to discredit critics of their policies, including three prominent scientists from Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford who founded the Great Barrington Declaration questioning government lockdowns.
“This proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists . . . seems to be getting a lot of attention – and even a co-signature from Nobel Prize winner Mike Leavitt at Stanford. There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises,” Dr. Collins wrote. “Is it underway?”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board did an admirable job following up on the emails and discussing their relevance.
Fauci and Collins receiving royalties aren’t the only known conflicts. A ProPublica investigation published last December found that federally funded health researchers reported more than 8,000 “significant” financial conflicts of interest worth at least $188 million. As ProPublica explained, “outside income from interested parties can potentially affect researchers’ objectivity and influence the design and findings of their taxpayer-subsidized work.”
The corporate media, which unabashedly shilled for Fauci, the Biden Administration, CDC, and FDA during the pandemic, have so far ignored the OTB report. But I’m not alone in my alarm. Timothy Gill, a former government intelligence officer specializing in national security, posted this comment about the OTB report on his LinkedIn page:
“A must read!! I cannot believe that this pervasive conflict of interest and financial benefit fraud has been allowed. This is disgusting!!”