The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is one of the U.S.' top health authorities, but it's also now a place of contempt for Dr. Matthew Memoli, who runs a clinical studies unit in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the institute's director himself, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Memoli, who has verbally opposed COVID vaccines among regular folks, is set to host the agency's main bioethics department's live-streamed roundtable session, which will discuss the ethics of vaccine mandates.
"I think the way we are using the vaccines is wrong," Dr. Memoli wrote in an email to Dr. Fauci and his two lieutenants on July 30, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Memoli, who himself is not vaccinated, said that the COVID vaccine mandates are "extraordinarily problematic."
Despite not being vaccinated however, Dr. Memoli said he supports COVID vaccination among those who have a high risk of contracting the coronavirus, such as the elderly and the obese. The physician, who served at the NIH for 16 years and recently received an NIH director's award, also argued that vaccinating individuals who are at low risk of severe COVID with the vaccines available today can "hamper the development of more-robust immunity gained across a population from infection."
The Dec. 1 virtual roundtable is one of four ethics debates held at the NIH this year, Breitbart reported. The event can be accessed by over 20,000 of NIH's staff, patients, and the general public. David Wendler, a senior NIH bioethicist who is in charge of planning the roundtable, said that there is "lot of debate within the NIH" about whether COVID vaccine mandates are "appropriate," saying that it was "an important, hot topic."
Current NIH data shows that about 88% of NIH's federal employees were "fully vaccinated at the end of October." Dr. Memoli's critics believe that pushing instead for natural immunity over COVID vaccines is a "terrible idea."
In September, President Joe Biden pushed for a wider COVID vaccinations through a mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy over the weekend hinted that the COVID vaccine mandate may eventually become applicable to small businesses as well.
Earlier this month, Pfizer announced that its full-year sales forecast for its COVID vaccine was raised by 7.5%, amounting to $36 billion as it signs more deals with countries for booster shots and pediatric doses, CNBC reported. Its COVID vaccine has become one of its best-selling products in the company's entire 127-year history. But profits are split between them and its German partner, BioNTech. Insider reported that Pfizer is on track to make as much money from COVID vaccines in 2021 as it earned overall in 2020.
In the U.S. alone, over 247 million doses of Pfizer's COVID vaccine had been administered, as per the CDC. Mistrust of Big Pharma is factors into why some Americans remain skeptical over getting vaccinated against COVID.