White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci’s reputation has been further tarnished in recent days amid new and resurfaced reports of ethically questionable experiments said to have been funded, at least in part, by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) or its parent organization, the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Fauci, the longtime director of the NIAID, is facing new criticism over allegations that the institute, along with the NIH, enlisted orphans and foster children in New York City and elsewhere to participate in risky experiments involving unproven treatments for HIV/AIDS.
Background on the controversial study
These reports come on the heels of earlier complaints regarding the alleged torture of dogs and monkeys in the name of scientific experimentation.
According to a 2005 report, multiple studies were conducted during the previous two decades involving infected foster children, some of whom subsequently died or suffered severe side effects.
As the Associated Press reported at the time, it was unknown how many of the kids ultimately died and it was difficult to determine whether they died as a result of the experimental treatments or the disease.
Of course, that is an important factor considering the fact that most of the children in the study took part in Phase I and Phase II studies, which inherently carry more risk than testing conducted later on in the process. Reports indicate they were given varying combinations and doses of drugs in an attempt to suppress the virus.
Making matters worse, the 2005 report revealed that, at least in some cases, independent advocates were not assigned on behalf of the individual children as required by federal and state laws.
Insiders speak out
Dr. Jonathan Fishbein, who was Fauci’s colleague and worked in the NIAID’s AIDS division, discussed his role in bringing complaints about the program to the attention of the Health and Human Services inspector general.
He explained in an NPR interview in 2005 that he was not opposed to the inclusion of foster children in the study since most were poor and would otherwise have no access to the potentially life-saving treatments.
Nevertheless, he expressed alarm over the way federal safeguards and regulations were being ignored or waived by researchers and state-level child services agencies.
A decade later, the Alliance for Human Research Protection scrutinized an earlier report from the Vera Institute of Justice regarding the AIDS drug trials and found that at least 80 foster children in New York City alone died. A total of 532 infants and children in the city were reportedly enrolled in the study and the AHRP reiterated that it was unclear whether those who died would have died regardless of their involvement in the program.
Even as Fauci continues to weigh in on the COVID-19 pandemic and other medical issues within the NIAID and the Biden administration, it appears that his peripheral involvement in various controversial studies and experiments in the past is making him an even more polarizing figure.