'We want them infected': Former HHS adviser pushed spreading COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity

An HHS appointee of President Donald Trump repeatedly pushed top health officials to adopt a "herd immunity" approach to COVID-19 by exposing "infants, kids, teens," and others to the virus, according to Politico, citing emails obtained by U.S. House lawmakers.

"There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups [to] expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD," then-science adviser Paul Alexander, PhD, wrote in a July 4 email to his boss, HHS assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.

"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…" Dr. Alexander added. 

Another email shows that Dr. Alexander later brought the proposed herd immunity strategy to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD. 

"It may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let the kids and young folk get infected" as a strategy to get "natural immunity…natural exposure," he wrote on July 24 to Dr. Hahn, Mr. Caputo and other HHS officials. 

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which obtained the emails, said the documents "show a pernicious pattern of political interference by administration officials." 

In a statement to Politico, an HHS spokesperson said Dr. Alexander's demands for herd immunity did not shape department strategy. 

"Dr. Paul Alexander previously served as a temporary senior policy adviser to the assistant secretary for public affairs and is no longer employed at the department," the spokesperson told Politico

Dr. Alexander left the department the same day Mr. Caputo took medical leave in September. 

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