A top doctor at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is headed by White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, has reportedly been vocally opposing widespread COVID-19 vaccine mandates since this summer.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the debate over federal mandates for public and private employees is raging within the NIH and that Dr. Matthew Memoli, who has overseen testing and development for vaccines, has so far refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine himself.
The agency will be holding an ethics seminar to weigh Memoli’s views against his colleagues who support the Biden administration’s far-reaching vaccine mandates.
Under President Joe Biden, the federal government is requiring that all federal employees be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. A Department of Labor mandate for private companies employing more than 100 people was blocked by a judge last week following several lawsuits from states and companies alike.
“There’s a lot of debate within the NIH about whether [a vaccine mandate] is appropriate,” NIH bioethicist David Wendler, who has been tasked with the debate, told the WSJ. “It’s an important, hot topic.”
In a July email to Fauci and other colleagues, Memoli argued that the mandates were “extraordinarily problematic” and that the way the novel COVID-19 vaccine was being used was “wrong.”
According to the WSJ, Memoli supports vaccination among the elderly and at-risk, as well as the childhood vaccinations that have been commonplace for decades.
However, he takes issue with the widespread use of COVID-19 vaccines for the population at large and that “with existing vaccines, blanket vaccination of people at low risk of severe illness could hamper the development of more-robust immunity gained across a population from infection.”
The WSJ notes that Memoli’s views make him an “outlier” in the medical community and at the NIH as well as among federal employees, 88% of whom are currently vaccinated.
He has applied for a religious exemption from the federal mandate. He has said he’s willing to lose his job over his right to decline to receive the vaccine and is willing to defend his stance at the agency’s roundtable discussion next month.
“I do vaccine trials. I, in fact, help create vaccines,” he said. “Part of my career is to share my expert opinions, right or wrong.…I mean, if they all end up saying I’m wrong, that’s fine. I want to have the discussion.”
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