In an interview with Robert Costa of the Washington Post, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked whether he thought he made any mistakes in the handling of the pandemic. He answered like the scientist that he is, saying that if that meant looking back and doing something differently, yes, he would – but because of the information that he has now. “You made a recommendation based on the information that you had at the time which is what you should be doing…When the information changes and you change what you’re saying it’s because you’re wanting to follow the evidence and the data – which is the right thing to do,” Fauci said. “So then do you call that a mistake back then? Well, back then it wasn’t a mistake because you were acting on the data you know…I look at recommendations based on data as you know it and as the data changes, then you change your recommendations.”
The National Institutes of Health is an environment where experimentation is the norm. Fauci talked frequently of how things are evolving, how we’re “only six months into it,” and how for certain things we need to keep an open mind as we are still learning about how the virus acts. He couched almost all of his answers with “based on what we know now…”
I think that Dr. Fauci has one of the worst jobs in the world these days, and yet he continues doing it with calm and grace. You would do well to emulate his mindset. Seek out new facts. Keep learning. Let the information guide you. Make the best decision at the time. Don’t be afraid to change your mind in light of evolving circumstances. Admit to not knowing all the answers. Look forward instead of looking back with regret. Don’t mislabel earlier decisions as making mistakes. Remain realistic. Point out complexities and nuances. Continue to be candid even when it’s unpopular to do so.
During the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about what not to do, but Dr. Fauci is modeling ways of communicating that will serve you well long after the virus is tamed.