Trump political appointee Paul Alexander made his pitch for ‘herd immunity’ to combat the coronavirus through mass infection in crude terms that are now being revealed in unsealed government documents.
The science advisor articulated his plan – which involved millions of Americans getting the virus so that it would eventually run out of hosts and die off – in emails to another Trump appointee, Michael Caputo, a former assistant secretary at HHS.
‘Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected,’ he wrote, in stunning emails the House Oversight Committee’s coronavirus select subcommittee obtained and provided to Politico.
Science advisor at HHS Paul Alexander penned emails about ‘herd immunity’ and said of young people: ‘We want them infected’
Defending the herd position, Alexander wrote in the July 4th memo to Caputo and others: ‘There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD.’
A July email to Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn along with other officials and Caputo described the theory.
‘[I]t may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let the kids and young folk get infected.” This would allow them to get “natural immunity…natural exposure,” Alexander wrote.
The internal emails came even as the coronavirus task force was pleading with Americans to wear a mask and social distance to ‘stop the spread.’
Alexander has previously been identified as sending in changes for the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which catalogues national deaths.
Caputo, who has longstanding Trump ties and was a political appointee, brought Alexander, a Canadian researcher, on as his deputy. Alexander earned a PhD in health research methodologies at McMaster University in Canada in 2015 and was a part-time assistant professor there.
A science advisor wrote Michael Caputo, a former assistant secretary at HHS now on medical leave, touting herd immunity, writing ‘we want them infected’
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Commissioner Robert Redfield fielded requests for changes to CDC reports from White House officials
First daughter Ivanka Trump offered suggestions on schools, the former chief of staff of the CDC told the New York Times
Former Counselor to the President of the United States Kellyanne Conway weighed in with editing suggestions on faith communities
President Trump, seen here with daughter Ivanka, is accused of politicizing science agencies
‘Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won,’ said Kyle McGowan, former chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Top officials dealing with the pandemic weren’t able to brush off the emails. They understood Alexander to have pull. ‘It was understood that he spoke for Michael Caputo, who spoke for the White House,” former CDC chief of staff Kyle McGowan told the publication. “That’s how they wanted it to be perceived.”
HHS announced in September that Alexander was departing and that Caputo would go on leave after the made comments calling on allies to get ready for an armed insurrection.
Caputo went on medical leave and a spokesman said he was being treated for cancer.
The documents emerged on a day when when McGowan and another CDC colleague, Amanda Campbell, told the New York Times about White House officials involving themselves in critical health guidelines released to the public.
The two Republicans spoke openly about what they called the politicization of the CDC.
McGowan said he and CDC head Dr. Robert Redfield negotiated with OMB Director Russ Vought on distancing guidelines for restaurants.
Ivanka Trump weighed in with suggestions on schools. Former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway provided editing comments on guidance for choirs and communion. Choirs were identified as early spreaders of the virus.
‘Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won,’ said McGowan.
‘What was so different, though, was the political involvement, not only from H.H.S. but then the White House, ultimately, that in so many ways hampered what our scientists were able to do,’ said Campbell.
Both previously worked for GOP Rep. Tom Price, who served as Trump’s first Secretary of Health and Human Services.