Senate

Rand Paul bashes omicron travel restrictions: ‘Travel bans aren’t going to work’

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) bashed travel restrictions prompted by the detection of the omicron variant in an interview on Sunday, saying that “the travel bans aren’t going to work” to prevent the variant’s spread.

“The travel bans aren’t going to work. The new variant is in over half of the states in our country. It’s in 40 different countries. There’s no travel ban that’s going to stop this,” Paul said Sunday in an interview with John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM. 

“We don’t even yet know whether it’s a good or a bad thing,” Paul added, referring to the variant. “And if it turns out that it’s much less dangerous, and it crowds out the delta variant, it might be a blessing in disguise.”

He also said that “restrictions on our liberties” were not science-based, but “based on whims.” 

“They’re based on basically [Anthony] Fauci’s impulse to authoritarianism is what I call it,” Paul said. “His gut reaction — his immediate knee jerk reaction to everything is to take away your liberty. I mean, look, all they had to hear was a sniff of this new variant from South Africa. And they’re freaking out with all the new things they’re going to require you to do.”

Paul has frequently butted heads with Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor, going so far as to call for him to be fired and claiming that he should serve a five-year prison sentence for allegedly lying to Congress over whether gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute received funding from the National Institute of Health.

Paul’s remarks have drawn swift criticism from Fauci, who has argued that he bears no responsibility for the pandemic and has called Paul’s claims “egregiously incorrect.” 

“Anybody who spins lies and threatens and all that theater that goes on with some of the investigations and the congressional committees and the Rand Pauls and all that other nonsense, that’s noise, Margaret. That’s noise. I know what my job is,” Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, told “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS in late November.

However, Fauci told Brennan during their interview that remarks are “dangerous” because he believes the personal attacks are really directed toward science.

“So it’s easy to criticize, but they’re really criticizing science because I represent science. That’s dangerous. To me, that’s more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me,” Fauci said at the time. “I’m not going to be around here forever, but science is going to be here forever. And if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society long after I leave. And that’s what I worry about.”

Fauci, however, has also acknowledged the “difficult choice” the Biden administration made to institute travel restrictions against eight southern African nations following the detection of the omicron variant in South Africa. Some officials have raised concerns that it could dissuade countries from sharing COVID-19 information in the future.

“We felt — or at least I felt and I know several other members of the team felt — really badly about that because the South Africans have been extremely transparent and collegial in getting information to us,” Fauci said during a CNN town hall earlier this month.

Tags Anthony Fauci COVID-19 COVID-19 variants omicron Rand Paul Rand Paul travel bans travel restrictions

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