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Emails Reveal Attempt to Direct Advice Given by Fauci

HHS official told press team to ensure he didn't recommend masks for children
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2020 7:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Trump administration appointee in the Department of Health and Human Services has been trying to shape what Dr. Anthony Fauci says about the pandemic, according to emails obtained by Politico. In emails to Fauci's National Institutes of Health press team and other officials dated as recently as this week, Politico observes that Paul Alexander's emails "often contradict mainstream science while promoting political positions taken by the Trump administration on hot-button issues ranging from the use of convalescent plasma to school reopening." It gives the example of an email sent Tuesday regarding a planned MSNBC interview with Fauci. "Can you ensure Dr. Fauci indicates masks are for the teachers in schools. Not for children,” Alexander, a senior adviser to HHS spokesman Michael Caputo, wrote.

He continued, “There is no data, none, zero, across the entire world, that shows children especially young children, spread this virus to other children, or to adults or to their teachers. None. And if it did occur, the risk is essentially zero." In another email, Alexander argued against advising widespread testing for university students. A statement to Politico from Caputo offers this defense: “Like all scientists, [Alexander's] advice is heard and taken or rejected by his peers. I hired Dr. Alexander for his expertise and not to simply resonate others’ opinions." As for Fauci, during a Fox interview Wednesday he said he doesn't think President Trump played down the virus threat. "I didn't get any sense that he was distorting anything. I mean in my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had," he said. "We related that to him. And when he would go out, I'd hear him discussing the same sort of things." (Read more Anthony Fauci stories.)

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