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National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis CollinsPhoto by Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) — Former National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Dr. Francis Collins privately urged his fellow federal health bureaucrats to release a “quick and devastating published take down” of respected epidemiologists who opposed the mass lockdown approach to combating COVID-19, newly-disclosed emails reveal.

Released in October 2020 and signed by dozens of health experts representing multiple countries, the Great Barrington Declaration contended that “lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health” resulting in “lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health.” 

It instead advocated “Focused Protection,” meaning “allow[ing] those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.”

The Declaration’s lead authors were Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford — described as “three fringe epidemiologists” by Collins in an October 8, 2020, email to White House COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Clifford Lane, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases Deputy Director for Clinical Research & Special Projects. 

Fauci replied to the email by sharing several articles critical of herd immunity. At the time he also publicly denounced the Declaration (which the Trump administration had embraced at the time) as “total nonsense” that would cost people’s lives, but lamented later in the private email chain that the White House was “too busy with other things to be worried about this.” The emails go on to show various health bureaucrats agreeing on the need to publicly discredit the Declaration and its sympathizers, such as Dr. Scott Atlas.

“A public debate would have been better” than a “published take down,” Kulldorff said of the emails, telling Collins the invitation was “still open.”

“So now I know what it feels like to be the subject of a propaganda attack by my own government,” Bhattacharya responded. “Discussion and engagement would have been a better path.”

Over the weekend, Collins stood by his condemnation of the Declaration’s authors in an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier.

“I did write that, and I will stand by that,” he said. “Basically, these fringe epidemiologists who really did not have the credentials to be making such a grand sweeping statement, were saying just let the virus run through the population and eventually then everybody would have had it and everything will be okay.”

Bhattacharya responded to the interview at length on social media, arguing that Collins had misrepresented the Declaration’s argument:

Collins claimed in the emails that “hundreds of thousands of people would have died if we had followed [the Barrington Declaration’s] strategy.” In fact, American COVID deaths have risen by more than 600,000 in the time since the Declaration was written, despite the United States’ emphasis on lockdowns, masking, and vaccination.

In April, Simon Fraser University economics professor Douglas Allen published a study reviewing more than 80 research papers on lockdowns across the world, which concluded that while lockdowns saved 22,333 years’ worth of lost life they also caused 6.3 million years of lost life, making the policy’s long-term harm 282 times worse than its benefits, thanks to the combined toll of canceled or delayed care for other medical issues, and the psychological harm of lost jobs and social isolation, among other factors.

In October, a study by Marine Baudin, Jérémie Mercier, and Denis Rancourt found the U.S. COVID death toll is actually due to “persistent chronic psychological stress induced by the long-lasting government-imposed societal and economic transformations during the COVID-era [which] converted the existing societal (poverty), public-health (obesity) and hot-climate risk factors into deadly agents.”

That study also argues that many “COVID-19-assigned deaths may be misdiagnosed bacterial pneumonia deaths,” and that the “massive vaccination campaign … had no detectable mitigating effect, and may have contributed to making the younger population more vulnerable,” presumably by encouraging riskier behavior through exaggerated impressions of the vaccines’ effectiveness. 

A body of data suggests that the mass vaccination strategy for defeating COVID-19 has failed. The federal government considers more than 204 million Americans (61% of the eligible) to be “fully vaccinated” (a moving target given the vaccines’ temporary nature), yet ABC News reported in October that more Americans died of COVID-19 this year (353,000) than in all of 2020 (352,000), according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Additionally, evidence suggests that masks played little, if any, role in reducing COVID-19’s spread across the United States. In May, a study found that, though mandates effectively resulted in higher levels of mask wearing, “mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. 

In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decrease cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.

This is far from the first controversy involving Collins, whose last day at NIH was December 19. He announced his resignation in October, following the release of 900 pages of documents on NIH’s funding of “gain-of-function” research to make bat coronaviruses more transmissible to humans. In 2018, Collins defended federal funding for research using tissue from aborted babies.