Political officials of the Donald Trump administration have attempted to block or modify more than a dozen government reports detailing scientific findings on the spread of the coronavirus, according to a House panel investigating the alleged interference.
Democratic Representative James Clyburn said investigators from his coronavirus subcommittee have found evidence of a ‘political pressure campaign’ to ‘intimidate’ professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into what could be an attempt to “overthrow” the response from to harm the country on the coronavirus in a misguided attempt to achieve immunity to the herd ”.
Herd immunity refers to a theory – rejected by most public health experts – according to which society can better protect itself by allowing the very young to become infected and develop natural immunity in anticipation of the availability of more vaccines.
Clyburn accused HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield of obstructing their investigation and issued subpoenas to coerce them massive amounts of documents and emails by December 30.
In a statement, HHS replied that there was no political interference and added, “While the government is focusing on vaccines, the subcommittee is focused on cheap shots to make headlines and mislead the American people.”
The subcommittee’s key findings are detailed in a 20-page letter to Azar and Redfiled, which focuses on the actions of two politicians appointed to HHS earlier this year. New York politician and Trump supporter Micahel Caputo was named the department’s chief spokesman during a period of great tension between White House officials and Azar. Caputo joined as advisor to health researcher Paul Alexander. Both men have since left the office.
But according to the letter, they ran a campaign for months to block or change articles about the COVID-19 pandemic in a CDC publication called Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report), which has been very much followed by the public health community.