Experts are calling on U.S. officials to explain why they've repeatedly downplayed natural immunity in favor of COVID-19 vaccines, suggesting the impetus could be funding from vaccine makers.
Walensky, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the agency repeatedly urged people with natural immunity to get vaccinated despite studies showing the former was already strong and long-lasting.
Walensky in 2021 in press releases and television appearances championed several CDC papers, one of which concluded vaccination after infection improved protection and another that found vaccine-bestowed protection was superior to natural immunity. But a more comprehensive study published afterward was not promoted by Walensky or the CDC, the experts pointed out.
"The surprising and stunning thing is that you have these high-level scientists who de facto denied natural immunity or COVID-acquired immunity," Martin Kulldorff, an epidemiologist who is on leave from Harvard University, told The Epoch Times.
Kulldorff is part of the Norfolk Group, which released the new document. It's titled "Questions for a COVID-19 Commission" and is meant for policymakers and officials who are able to question Walensky and others who influenced the U.S. pandemic response. The group also hopes that a COVID-19 commission will be convened to probe how the pandemic was handled.
One hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is set to question Walensky, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf, and several other health officials.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who hosted Kulldorff and others for a hearing in 2022, called the document "a must read from doctors who have consistently fought to seek the truth about COVID & our response to it." He called for more hearings on the pandemic response.
The Norfolk Group also includes, among others, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford University epidemiologist who co-signed the Great Barrington Declaration with Kulldorff, Leslie Bienen, a professor at the Oregon Health & Science University-Portland State University School of Public Health, and Steven Templeton, an immunology expert at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
The position that natural immunity was inferior to vaccination led to many other aspects of the response going wrong, including the shutdown and continued closure of schools, Kulldorff said.
The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.
"Did CDC decision makers have conflicts of interest in questioning the role of infection-acquired immunity in protection from severe COVID-19?" the document asks.
Failure to Protect the ElderlyCOVID-19 is most harmful to the elderly. That fact, along with the harms that lockdown-style policies bring, motivated the Great Barrington Declaration, which called for "focused protection" on those at high risk from the illness while allowing people who face little risk "to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection."
One line of questioning should examine why the policies promoted by Fauci and others failed to protect the elderly and others at high risk, the Norfolk Group said.
About 40 percent of U.S. deaths attributed to COVID-19 have been residents of long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
"While partially due to frailty and declining health of nursing home residents, the high mortality rate was also due to a failure to limit transmission from other residents, staff, and visitors," the group said.
They urged investigations into why the governors of some states, including New York, allowed infected residents to be discharged from hospitals back into these homes and why staff members sometimes rotated between facilities, even at the height of the pandemic.
Encouraging facilities to hire naturally immune staff would have helped lower rates of infection and thus transmission, the Norfolk Group said. Instead, federal officials imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on healthcare facilities that does not acknowledge natural immunity. The mandate is one of the few that have survived to this day.