U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has frequently expressed criticism of the advice offered by infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
In a recent Senate hearing on the nation’s ongoing COVID-19 response, the Kentucky Republican demanded that President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser explain his statements encouraging vaccinated adults to continue wearing face masks in public places.
“Everybody agrees they have immunity”
Fauci, who rose to prominence as a leader of former President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, has taken on a more influential role within the Biden administration.
As for his most recent clash with Paul, the exchange came on Thursday when the senator confronted him about recent face mask recommendations.
“You’re telling everybody to wear a mask whether they’ve had an infection or a vaccine,” Paul said, according to TheBlaze. “What I’m saying is they have immunity and everybody agrees they have immunity.”
The senator went on to press Fauci on the rationale of his advice, asking: “What studies do you have that people who have had the vaccine or have had the infection are spreading the infection?”
In response, the doctor cited a Johnson & Johnson study that found individuals infected with certain strains of COVID-19 showed no resistance to the South African variant. But his reply did not convince Paul.
“Let’s get down to facts”
After the senator once again demanded that the witness produce a scientific study showing that vaccinated individuals are at significant risk of contracting the virus, the two men engaged in further back and forth, including Paul’s stark assessment that Fauci has been “making policy based on conjecture.”
Paul further suggested that requiring people who “are not spreading the infection” to wear face masks in public amounts to “just theater.”
Fauci took exception to the description, declaring: “Here we go again with the theater. Let’s get down to facts.”
This exchange was just the latest tense encounter between Fauci and Paul on Capitol Hill.
The senator has frequently argued that Fauci’s COVID-19 recommendations are based on speculation instead of scientific evidence. Fauci has not always disagreed, however; according to Fox News, the doctor stated earlier this month that when experts “don’t have the data” or the “actual evidence,” they must “make a judgment call,” which is what he claims he has been doing.