Dr. Anthony Fauci, ‘an Iconic Public Servant’

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  • Sandy Hook, 10 Years Later: ‘Turning Pain Into Purpose’
  • A Better Hospital Model
  • During the Pandemic, Learning From the World
  • Cut Military Spending

Dr. Anthony Fauci is retiring from the National Institutes of Health this month.Credit…Wolfgang Tillmans for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Message to the Next Generation of Scientists,” by Dr. Anthony Fauci (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 11):

As perhaps the country’s best-known public face of scientific research, Dr. Fauci distills lessons from his five decades of public service spent advancing medical science. While he was drawn to science and discovery, the whole point of his work was always to bring practical benefit to patients.

He never lost sight of the operative approach, “bench-to-bedside,” the circular process of taking laboratory insights to the care of patients, then returning to the laboratory with what he learned from them.

Dr. Fauci urged the next generation of medical scientists to continue working in public health. He encouraged speaking up and explaining the plain unvarnished truth of scientific findings to senior government officials, even when “uncomfortable or politically inconvenient.”

He knows this is a long game, and added: “Stay the course, regardless of challenges and surprises that might arise.” Those are wise words derived from the deep knowledge of an iconic public servant.

Gary M. Stewart
Laguna Beach, Calif.

To the Editor:

As a sophomore at the University of Chicago, I am indebted to Dr. Anthony Fauci for inspiring me to pursue medicine and research.

I remember seeing Dr. Fauci calm the nation at a news conference back when Covid-19 first emerged. Dr. Fauci was and is down-to-earth, sharing a wealth of knowledge while never bragging about his authority.

Indeed, we came to trust him not because he told us to but because his honest, apolitical, scientific perspective was sorely needed. Whether it be at major research institutions or on “The Daily Show,” Dr. Fauci impressively spread his message.

In spring 2020 I boldly told a teacher, “I want to be the next Dr. Fauci.” He showed me it was possible to be a researcher, a science communicator, and a skilled and compassionate physician — all at the same time.

Thank you, Dr. Fauci, for your decades of service to the American people. We’re the ones with the enormous privilege to have been led by your data-driven, methodical approach to science. Congratulations on a well-deserved retirement from the National Institutes of Health.

Anushree Vashist

To the Editor:

On behalf of colleagues at research universities all over this country and the world, I thank Dr. Anthony Fauci for his thoughtful leadership at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within the National Institutes of Health.

I am grateful for his political savvy, foresight and personal sacrifice not only in battling the Covid-19 crisis, but also in standing up to the science deniers, the misinformed and the misinformation that accompanied it.

Dr. Fauci, your efforts saved countless lives and educated the public, and we applaud you. Your lasting lesson for all of us must be to educate the general public, and particularly the next generation of young people, about what science is and who scientists are, in the hope that they will vote for leaders who respect and listen to science.

Daniel Kalman
The writer is a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University.

Sandy Hook, 10 Years Later: ‘Turning Pain Into Purpose’

Credit…Michael Appleton for The New York Times

To the Editor:

On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School were brutally murdered in an act of evil and terror. While we continue to pray for the Newtown community, we are in awe of their courage and resilience: turning pain into purpose by fighting to end the horrors of gun violence.

Paul Bacon
Hallandale Beach, Fla.

A Better Hospital Model

Credit…Michael Hanson for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Hospital Funding Has Catch: Cut Inpatient Care” (front page, Dec. 10), about struggling rural hospitals:

The underlying problem here is that the U.S. is using the wrong model for our health care nonsystem. Instead of running it as a bunch of capitalist businesses with no coordination, our country needs to do what the rest of the developed world does: run the health care system as a public service financed by taxes and overseen by the government.

Rural hospitals would then become a national responsibility, and there would be an agency responsible for making sure there are adequate facilities spread across the nation to provide needed care to the people who live in each community, whether large and urban or small and rural.

Canada is geographically most similar to the U.S., with some large urban areas and a vast rural spread with much smaller towns. Since Canada adopted a public service model, it has provided good health care throughout the country without excessive cost increases over the years.

Again, the fundamental need is to view our health care system as a public service, not as a profit-making entity. (Even our mega-hospitals that are technically “nonprofit” are accumulating enormous “reserves” and paying obscenely high salaries to their top officers.)

Sarah K. Weinberg
Mercer Island, Wash.
The writer, a retired pediatrician, is president of the Washington chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.

During the Pandemic, Learning From the World

Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Sizing Up the First Back-to-Normal School Year” (The Story Behind the Story, Dec. 6):

Recent test results tell a sobering and complicated story about how kids fared academically during the pandemic. But global statements like “during the pandemic, kids learned less” are misleading. They mask the reality that kids are learning all the time at home and in the community, from parents, extended family and peers.

This year children returned to school with enriched funds of knowledge about the world around them, and schools would do well to build upon that. In our rush to “recovery” let’s not overlook the opportunity to explore the questions children have acquired over the last two years.

Here is an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate that schools can help children make sense of their experiences in the larger world and teach the essential skills that will enable them to become successful adults.

Jonathan Silin
The writer is a former member of the graduate faculty at the Bank Street College of Education.

Cut Military Spending

The B-21 Raider under wraps in Palmdale, Calif.Credit…David Swanson/Reuters

To the Editor:

Re “Are We Sleepwalking Through a ‘Decisive Decade’?” (column, Dec. 7):

Bret Stephens’s call for sharp increases in U.S. military spending misses the mark in at least two respects.

First, Pentagon spending is already at very high levels. The Pentagon doesn’t need more spending; it needs more spending discipline, including vigorous efforts to combat price gouging and cost overruns by weapons contractors.

An even greater driver of overspending at the Pentagon is America’s overextended, “cover the globe” military strategy. A more restrained approach that relies more heavily on allies, prioritizes diplomacy and takes a more realistic view of the military challenge posed by China could save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. These funds could be invested in other urgent national needs like preventing pandemics and addressing the ravages of climate change.

William D. Hartung
New York
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

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