A senior bioethicist and director of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health — who said he’s willing to risk his medical license — will argue against vaccine mandates during a Dec. 1 livestreamed roundtable.
“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 the WSJ. “It’s an important, hot topic.”
Memoli opposes mandates for the COVID vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S., and has chosen not to be vaccinated.
Memoli sought a religious exemption from the mandatory vaccine requirements imposed by health authorities in the District of Columbia, where he is licensed to practice medicine.
Memoli said he is willing to risk his job and his license for the right not to receive a COVID vaccine. During the scheduled roundtable early next month, he will make the case against mandates.
“I think the way we are using the vaccines is wrong,” Memoli said in a July 30 email to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, and two of his lieutenants. Memoli called mandated vaccination “extraordinarily problematic.”
Memoli told the WSJ one of Fauci’s colleagues thanked him for his email. Memoli said he supports COVID vaccines for high-risk populations including the elderly and obese, but said, “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, a 16-year veteran at the NIH was selected this month for a 2021 NIH director’s award — a top recognition from the head of the agency, for his supervision of a national study into undiagnosed COVID cases early in the pandemic.