There’s an interesting debate happening over vaccine mandates, and it’s in an unlikely place. The National Institute of Health, the workplace of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a mandate advocate. According to a November 7th article in The Wall Street Journal, the NIH will hold a “roundtable session” on December 1st to discuss the “ethics” of the proposed workplace mandate.
Lots of Pushback against the Mandates within NIH
The December discussion is the first of four for the agency, which employs nearly 20,000 people. The pushback against the mandate is coming from several employees, including David Wendler, a senior NIH bioethicist. “There’s a lot of debate within the NIH about whether [a vaccine mandate] is appropriate,” said Wendler, “It’s an important, hot topic.” Wendler has also done a lot of pediatric research.
As pointed out in an article in The Hill, the pushback isn’t coming from “anti-vaxxers.” In one case, one of the employees opposing the mandate is Dr. Matthew Memoli who supports vaccine use among “high risk” individuals including the elderly and the obese. Memoli has declined to be vaccinated for “religious reasons” and thinks the vaccine mandate is “extremely problematic.”
Blanket Vaccine May have Opposite Impact
Memoli points out that he does vaccine research and has helped develop and create vaccines. So he’s not against vaccines 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.” Memoli has even told Fauci that he believes the way “we are using vaccines is wrong.”
The objections to the proposed mandate are reverberating through the NIH. Christine Grady, who is the head of the Clinical Center of the bioethics department at the National Institute of Health, has agreed to the December 1st discussion. Grady is married to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
As pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Dr. Memoli is now considered an “outlier,” even though he’s done research on vaccines. Epidemiologists and public health officials believe that Memoli can dissuade the general population from being vaccinated. Public health officials believe the only way to defeat the covid pandemic is through mass vaccination.
Dr. Grady signed off on the December discussion with the idea that there is interest throughout the agency. However, David Wendler, who works with Grady points out that the bioethics department doesn’t seek to influence policy because they’re a “consultation service” not “policy people.”
Dr. Memoli simply wants to have the agency discussion. As he says, “if they end up saying I’m wrong, that’s fine. I just want to have the discussion.”
What could be even more interesting is if Grady and Fauci have a discussion before the NIH-led event.