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When he retired in December 2022, Dr. Anthony Fauci, then-director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) was the highest-paid federal employee and the recipient of the largest federal retirement package in history.
Fauci’s successor, Dr. Jeanne M. Marrazzo, will soon take over leadership of the agency — and its $6.3 billion budget.
Fauci praised Marrazzo, telling CNN, “She’s very well-liked. She’s a really good person. I think she’s going to do a really good job.”
But some of her critics, including medical and public health experts interviewed by The Defender, questioned Marrazzo’s suitability for leading NIAID, citing her limited experience as a medical practitioner and her role in supervising clinical trials of remdesivir, a controversial drug used to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Critics also called out her steadfast support for strict restrictions and countermeasures during the pandemic, and her receipt, since 1997, of more than $20 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and payments from Big Pharma — including from Gilead, the manufacturer of remdesivir.
Before being named director of the NIAID, Marrazzo was director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UAB at Birmingham. She will replace Dr. Hugh Auchincloss, who has served as NIAID’s acting director following Fauci’s departure.
Commenting on the appointment, Brian Hooker, Ph.D., senior director of science and research for Children’s Health Defense (CHD), said:
“It looks like Dr. Marrazzo will give us more of the same, unfortunately. Her flip-flopping, penchant for Big Pharma, and support of draconian public health (control) measures mean that she’ll take a reactionary posture to any ‘pandemic threat’ and may be as gleeful as Fauci at the prospect of new pandemics.
“I have dim hopes that she may learn some lessons while the investigations into Fauci lying to Congress play out. However, these bureaucrats don’t really believe that the law applies to them.”
The NIAID is the second largest center at the NIH. According to CNN, it “supports research to advance the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of infectious, immunologic and allergic diseases,” as well as “research at universities and research organizations around the United States and across NIAID’s 21 laboratories.”
“Marrazzo fits the mold of every public health leader so far that has led the charge during the pandemic,” Dr. Kat Lindley, president of the Global Health Project and director of the Global COVID Summit, told The Defender.
“My concern with Marrazzo is actually her Big Pharma ties, her lack of clinical experience with COVID-19 in particular, and her blatant ignorance on early treatment and support for unproven, scientifically debunked measures, in particular masking.
“Any scientist or physician should understand that masking has never proven to be effective and, in the case of children, even detrimental.”
Touted remdesivir as ‘silver bullet’ for treating COVID
During her tenure at UAB, the university served as one of the clinical trial sites for remdesivir, an antiviral originally developed by Gilead Sciences as a treatment for Hepatitis C and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
According to the NIH, the trial was intended “to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the investigational antiviral remdesivir in hospitalized adults diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019.” Marrazzo supervised the UAB trial site.
UAB has long served as a research site for remdesivir. A February 2021 UAB report states, “Gilead entered into collaboration with the UAB-led Antiviral Drug Development and Discovery Center … to study remdesivir against coronaviruses” in 2014.
“These earlier studies enabled remdesivir to more quickly be tested and approved for human use as a treatment for COVID-19 when the 2020 pandemic struck,” UAB stated.
The trial results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in November 2020, found remdesivir shortened “the time to recovery in adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and had evidence of lower respiratory tract infection.”
Fauci later praised remdesivir as the “standard of care” for treating COVID-19.
However, according to investigative journalist Jordan Schachtel, studies “show that there are zero clinical benefits to injecting patients with remdesivir. Many studies show that remdesivir can severely injure vital organs such as the heart and kidneys.”
Yet, Marrazzo never disclosed a conflict of interest when publicly commenting on remdesivir, Schachtel said. She described it as a “silver bullet” in remarks shared with The Washington Post in July 2020, and in tweets praising the drug.
— Jeanne Marrazzo (@DrJeanneM) May 7, 2020
“Given the UAB-Gilead partnership, one would think that Dr. Marrazzo would refrain from commenting on issues through which she maintained a clear conflict of interest,” Schachtel wrote. “She did no such thing.”
According to the U.S. government’s Open Payments database, Marrazzo received seven payments from Gilead, totaling $2,474.93.
But as Marrazzo repeatedly praised remdesivir — and, according to Schachtel, has “never shown remorse” for this despite mounting evidence of the harm it has caused — she has repeatedly spoken out against hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19.
In June 2020, in reference to a study published in the NEJM claiming hydroxychloroquine is ineffective in protecting people from COVID-19, Marrazzo said these findings “should provide a very big nail in the coffin” for the use of this treatment.
The following month, Marrazzo called a video that went viral on social media describing hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 “very irresponsible and despicable,” adding that she was “glad that video is hopefully not being shared very much.”
Yet, in April 2020, prior to the conclusion of the remdesivir clinical trial, Marrazzo said, “We are using it [hydroxychloroquine] in our hospital … for a range of patients including when patients are beginning to deteriorate,” adding:
“And lots of media folks are asking what we think about hydroxychloroquine. And the reality is that we live and die by the evidence. And one issue is the argument about whether it’s even ethical to use these treatments when we don’t have the evidence.
“But I would get back to the compassionate use argument. When you have a patient who’s dying, you have to use what you can, what’s available.”
Cheerleader for COVID vaccines and Merck’s molnupiravir
Marrazzo has also praised COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. In May 2020, she was “hopeful” about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial — despite its enrollment of only eight volunteers, saying “We don’t have the luxury of time here in this case.”
In August 2021, she called the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine “great news,” saying, “Vaccines are our best weapon against this disease” and are “working incredibly well to prevent severe disease” and reduce hospitalizations.
In January 2022, Marrazzo said “Vaccination makes the biggest difference” in fighting COVID-19, adding that “boosters, of course, are going to augment that protection.”
And in October 2021, Marrazzo praised molnupiravir, Merck’s antiviral pill for COVID-19, stating it had “extraordinary potential.” Results of a preprint study later showed the drug may fuel the development of new and potentially deadly variants of COVID-19.
Marrazzo has received five payments from Merck, totaling $8,820.
Cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough told The Defender Marrazzo “has been willfully blind to the failure of COVID-19 vaccines” and “appears incapable of mastering the four pillars of pandemic response to lead America through the next pandemic: 1) contagion control, 2) early treatment, 3) late treatment and 4) vaccination.”
A ‘slap in the face’ to vaccine, hospital protocol victims
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Marrazzo made frequent television appearances in which, according to a UAB statement, she “helped inform the world … sharing critical information and perspectives.” UAB touted Marrazzo as a COVID-19 expert during this period.
According to AL.com, Marrazzo was on Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s COVID-19 task force, supporting “emergency public health measures that closed business and mandated mask wearing.”
In March 2020, Marrazzo supported “flattening the curve,” calling on the public “to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.” In similar statements made on May 8, 2020, Marrazzo warned of a “backslide” if measures like social distancing were loosened.
In June 2020, she said masks can “change the trajectory of this epidemic.”
In a June 2020 YouTube video, “Why you should wear a mask,” Marrazzo said, “Masks have contributed to the control of this pandemic in other communities.” She called for masks for schoolchildren over age 6 and included mask-wearing in a list of “Three basic rules” along with hand washing and social distancing.
In an article she co-authored and in which she highlighted “the intersection of the COVID-19, HIV, and STI pandemics,” Marrazzo drew parallels between wearing masks and wearing condoms, writing:
“Condoms reduce transmission of HIV and bacterial STIs effectively, if used adequately and consistently, but lack of access to condoms or perhaps even personal preference limits their utility.
“As a correlate to barrier protection, masking has proven effective to reduce the expulsion of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory virus droplets.”
The paper also repeated claims regarding the “lack of benefit” of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and vitamins C and D in treating COVID-19. Conversely, referring to the COVID-19 vaccines, the authors stated, “There were few serious adverse events in either arm, and there were no deaths related to the vaccine.”
Blaming the unvaccinated
In May 2021, she criticized loosened Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks, stating that because less than 50% were vaccinated in her community, she would still wear a mask indoors despite being fully vaccinated herself.
In July 2021 she warned of a “summer surge” that would be fueled by the unvaccinated.
In December 2021 Marrazzo again scolded the unvaccinated. “Your decision to get infected is unfortunately not just going to be affecting you,” she said. “It’s going to be serving a source of incredible infectiousness going forward.”
Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force during the Trump administration, told KUSI News San Diego that Marrazzo “was completely wrong about COVID … Pushing pseudoscience, pushing … her belief that vaccines stopped the spread of the infection, that children have high risk, and that masks were efficacious.”
“Marrazzo represents everything that was done wrong in the handling of COVID,” said Gail Seiler, Texas chairperson, Projects and Content, for the FormerFedsGroup Freedom Foundation and a survivor of the CDC’s COVID-19 hospital protocols, including administration of remdesivir.
Seiler told The Defender that Marrazzo advocated for no early treatment until the patient “worsened to the point of hospitalization,” and at that point to give remdesivir, “a drug that she profits from.”
“Because of people like Marrazzo, patients in the hospital were given no hope of survival. Because of her ignoring the evidence, over a million people died who shouldn’t have.
“Her selection to the NIAID is a slap in the face to every family whose loved ones were killed by the protocols she profited from. And it exemplifies why the general public has lost trust in agencies such as the NIAID.”
Financial ties to Big Pharma
Marrazzo received a total of $20,405,337 in NIH grants for 67 studies between 1997 and 2023, according to NIH data. These grants ranged between $6,000 and $2.82 million and averaged over $304,000 per grant.
Open Payments data show Marrazzo has received $28,761,36 across 37 “general payments” and $152,208.42 across seven payments for “associated research funding,” including $18,636.59 in consulting fees, $4,500 in honorariums, and payments from companies such as Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Gilead, Janssen and Abbott Laboratories.
In December 2018, Marrazzo participated in a panel titled “Role of the Genital Tract Microbiome in Sexual and Reproductive Health,” during the Keystone Symposia Conference in South Africa, which was “made possible with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Her employer, UAB, received at least two Gates Foundation grants pertaining to health-related research in recent years. This includes a June 2021 grant, “Modeling Impact of Service Delivery Redesign” totaling over $1.5 million, and a $124,921 grant in April 2020 for a project titled “COVID-19 CTA: HTS Core for screening compounds.”
UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases boasts “an active research portfolio with approximately $39 million in external research funding.” Research specialties include “Pathogenesis of viral infections,” “Antiviral therapy,” “Travel medicine and international health” and “Host defenses and infectious diseases in immunocompromised patients.”
Big supporter of gain-of-function research
UAB also houses a BSL3 research laboratory, the Southeastern Biosafety Laboratory Alabama Birmingham (SEBLAB), funded in part by NIH. According to UAB, it is “one of a limited number of institutions,” adding that the university ranks “among the top 25 in funding from the National Institutes of Health.”
The university states that SEBLAB researchers are “able to bring their skills to bear on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and other issues directly relevant to biodefense and emerging infectious disease,” with a focus on NIAID “priority pathogens” and discovery of “new treatments to prevent or combat” diseases caused by infectious agents.
These projects have also included “Testing drugs on SARS-CoV-2,” a process involving growing the virus in SEBLAB. According to UAB researcher Kevin Harrod, Ph.D.,“We grow the viruses, measure them and provide them to the BARDA [the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority] contractor.”
BSL3 and BSL4 laboratories across the U.S. and the world have been associated with controversial gain-of-function research, which some have said is responsible for the development and subsequent alleged leak from one such facility, the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, leading to prominent calls to end such research.
According to Independent Institute, “Marrazzo’s views on the origin of COVID-19 are hard to find,” as are her views on gain-of-function research.
Francis Boyle, J.D., Ph.D., a professor of international law at the University of Illinois who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, told The Defender that Marrazzo’s selection signals that the NIH and NIAID have no intention of stopping gain-of-function research at BSL3 and BSL4 facilities.
“They will have her in place to deal with the next pandemic that they know is coming out of their own BSL3 and BSL4 labs, just as Fauci dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic that came out of the Wuhan BSL4 and the University of North Carolina BSL3 and that Fauci and [former NIH Director] Francis Collins funded.
“Under her auspices NIAID will continue to research, develop, manufacture and stockpile every hideous type of Nazi biological warfare weapon known to humanity … There will be no end to it and to these death scientists like her … unless and until we stop them by criminal prosecutions.”
Boyle called Marrazzo a “Fauci clone, not an original and independent thinker,” adding, “The Bidenites and the globalists and Big Pharma behind them picked her to continue the Fauci/NIAID policies and programs across the board.”