Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Public Pushback At The House That Lil'Fauci Built...,

wsj  |  The sprawling federal research agency has led government efforts studying and battling Covid-19, including funding the development and testing of vaccines. Anthony Fauci, a top NIH scientist, has been a public face of the Biden administration’s case for wider vaccine mandates, including a federal one affecting the NIH’s own staff.

But just like at workplaces across the country, vaccine mandates are sparking controversy at the NIH. The agency’s main bioethics department has scheduled a Dec. 1 live-streamed roundtable session over the ethics of mandates. The seminar is one of four agencywide ethics debates this year, accessible to all of the NIH’s nearly 20,000 staff, as well as patients and the public, organizers say. It was set up after a senior infectious-disease researcher at the institute pushed back against broadening discussion of mandates this summer and requested an agency ethics review.

“There’s a lot of debate within the NIH about whether [a vaccine mandate] is appropriate,” said David Wendler, the senior NIH bioethicist who is in charge of planning the session. “It’s an important, hot topic.”

A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily blocked Biden administration rules issued last week by the U.S. Labor Department requiring many private employers to ensure workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19. The Labor Department’s top legal adviser said the administration was confident in its authority to issue the mandate and prepared to defend the rules.

In the NIH-scheduled roundtable next month, Matthew Memoli, who runs a clinical studies unit within the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will make the case against mandates. Dr. Memoli, 48 years old, opposes mandatory Covid-19 vaccination with currently available shots, and he has declined to be vaccinated.

“I think the way we are using the vaccines is wrong,” he said. In a July 30 email to Dr. Fauci and two of his lieutenants, Dr. Memoli called mandated vaccination “extraordinarily problematic.” He says one of Dr. Fauci’s colleagues thanked him for his email. Dr. Fauci and a NIAID spokeswoman declined to comment.

Dr. Memoli said he supports Covid-19 vaccination in high-risk populations including the elderly and obese. But he argues 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.

 

 

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