Trump Official Had CDC Lie About COVID’s Risk To Nation’s Children

Screengrab / ABC 7 Chicago / YouTube


Paul Alexander successfully lobbied for a change in title and language in a CDC report regarding COVID and children.

Politico reports that former Health and Human Services official Paul Alexander successfully requested that the CDC change language in a scientific report to obscure the coronavirus’ effect on children.

  • Alexander requested that the word “pediatric” be removed from the text and that the title of the report be changed to remove "Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults" and replace them with "Persons."
  • The request to Charlotte Kent, the editor-in-chief of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, came as President Trump insisted that schools reopen and that COVID presented a low risk for children.
  • The study addressed death rates of COVID-19 among the pediatric population, a term the CDC has used frequently to refer to people under age 21, in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics definition.

The study in question addressed the death rates of Covid-19 among the pediatric population; CDC has frequently used the term "pediatric" to refer to the population under age 21, in line with how the American Academy of Pediatrics defines the term.

One current and two former CDC officials who reviewed the email exchange between Alexander and Kent said they were troubled by the intervention to alter scientific reports viewed as untouchable prior to the Trump administration.

  • “The resulting changes also appeared to minimize the risks of the coronavirus to children by making the report’s focus on children less clear, two individuals said," according to Politico's report.

Alexander’s emails on the CDC’s bulletins are also a further indication of how administration officials have mounted a concerted effort to play down language about the risks of the coronavirus to children. White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx separately pressed the CDC to adjust its guidance to reopen schools, The New York Times reported last week.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar told a congressional committee on Friday that he did not support Alexander's harshly worded demands to edit the reports.

Alexander also spent months pushing government scientists to minimize the risks of the coronavirus in children, including attempting to muzzle infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci from speaking publicly about those risks.

  • Current and former CDC officials said they disagreed with removing “children” and “adolescents” from the title, in part because it would make it harder to find the report when scientists search for COVID risks to children.

Read the full report.


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