Story at a glance

  • An unvaccinated doctor who heads a research team at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease is leading a debate within the National Institute of Health over the ethics of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
  • Matthew Memoli reportedly wrote in an email to NAID Director Anthony Fauci in July that he found mandated vaccinations “extraordinarily problematic.”
  • “I think the way we are using the vaccines is wrong,” he told Fauci.

An unvaccinated doctor who heads a research team at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) is leading a debate within the National Institute of Health (NIH) over the ethics of COVID-19 vaccine mandates. 

Matthew Memoli, a 16-year veteran at the NIH, will argue against vaccine mandates in a Dec. 1 live-streamed roundtable session over the ethics of mandates, which will be open for viewing within the agency, to patients and to the public, The Wall Street Journal reported

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

An appeals court on Saturday temporarily stopped President Biden’s mandate requiring employers to verify employee vaccination or ensure weekly testing. 

Memoli reportedly wrote in an email to NIAID Director Anthony Fauci in July that he found mandated vaccinations “extraordinarily problematic.” 

“I think the way we are using the vaccines is wrong,” he told Fauci. 

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Memoli, who has reportedly applied for vaccine exemptions, favors vaccinations in vulnerable populations but argues population level vaccination could hinder the development of a natural, robust immunity gained through infection. 

The 48-year-old has said his children have received their childhood vaccinations, and he will support the results of the ethics discussion regardless of the outcome. 

“I do vaccine trials. I, in fact, help create vaccines,” he told WSJ. “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.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new findings last month that suggest vaccines are the most effective protection against the virus. 

The data in the study “demonstrate that vaccination can provide a higher, more robust, and more consistent level of immunity to protect people from hospitalization for COVID-19 than infection alone for at least 6 months.”


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Published on Nov 08, 2021