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Fauci to Paul: 'I've never made myself out' as the only voice on the pandemic

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says US could have herd immunity by end of summer 2021 Let the littlest state lead us on COVID-19 Atlas departure from White House cheered by public health officials MORE bluntly told Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul says Fauci owes parents and students an apology over pandemic measures Grassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday that he has never put himself up as the definitive authority on the coronavirus pandemic.

"I have never made myself out to be the end all and only voice in this. I'm a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence," Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Senate hearing about the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fauci pushed back on Paul's comments that scientists should "have a little bit of humility" because they do not know what's best for the economy.

"As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don't think you're the end all. I don't think you're the one person that gets to make a decision," Paul said. "We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there's not going to be a surge, that we can safely reopen the economy, and the facts will bear this out." 

Fauci responded that he doesn't give economic advice.

"I don't give advice about anything other than public health," Fauci said.

Paul, an ophthalmologist, predicted that there won't be a surge in positive cases and deaths in states that are currently reopening their economies. 

Paul said he thinks public health officials who model diseases should own up to being wrong if there's no surge, "because I think that's what's going to happen. In rural states we never really reached any sort of pandemic levels in Kentucky and other states."

Paul also suggested that children should go back to school in the fall because he thinks they are at low risk for catching COVID-19 and have such low levels of mortality. 

Fauci responded, noting that humility is saying there's a lot people don't know about the virus, especially about its effects on children. 

"We really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we're seeing things the virus can do that we didn't see from the studies in China or in Europe," Fauci said.

"You're right, in the numbers that children, in general, do much much better than adults and the elderly, and particularly those with underlying conditions, but I am very careful and hopefully humble that I don't know everything about this disease, and that's why I'm very reserved in making broad predictions," Fauci said.