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Fauci scolds Rand Paul during tense exchange at hearing

A seemingly irritated Anthony FauciAnthony FauciListening to experts isn't perfect, but ignoring them is far worse Fauci: Maybe 2022 before US sees 'some semblances of normality' Fauci expresses support for national mask mandate MORE, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, scolded Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump says ex-staffer who penned 'Anonymous' op-ed should be 'prosecuted' CIA impeachment whistleblower forced to live under surveillance due to threats: report Rand Paul rips 'leftwing media' for focusing on COVID-19 cases: 'Mortality rates are plummeting' MORE (R-Ky.) at a congressional hearing on Wednesday after the senator claimed that COVID-19 cases might not be rising in New York because of herd immunity. 

Fauci, the country's top infectious diseases doctor, told Paul he was wrong to make the suggestion, and he said Paul had also been wrong in other public comments about the concept of herd immunity. 

"No, you've misconstrued that, senator, and you've done that repeatedly in the past," Fauci said. 

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Fauci also appeared to single out Paul for criticism over comments about the coronavirus, which as of this week has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States.

"If you believe 22 percent is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that," Fauci told Paul during the hearing, referring to the number of New Yorkers thought to have had COVID-19. 

The exchange took place during a Senate Health Committee hearing where Fauci and others are testifying about the pandemic.

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Paul, who has frequently criticized lockdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus while questioning their effectiveness, asked Fauci if he had second thoughts over his support for such measures given statistics in other countries. 

He claimed mitigation measures like closing movie theaters, bars and limiting restaurant capacity had no impact, because the New York tri-state area had the highest coronavirus death rate in the country. 

"It's important that we the people not simply acquiesce to authoritarian mandates on our behavior without first making the nanny state prove their hypothesis," Paul said. "What we do know is that New York and New Jersey and Connecticut and Rhode Island still allowed the highest death rates in the world." 

Fauci said New York got hit "pretty badly" but the state has managed to bring its positivity down to about 1 percent because New Yorkers have been following recommendations like wearing masks, keeping physical distance and staying outdoors more than indoors.

When Paul floated the theory that New Yorkers have now developed enough immunity that they are no longer at risk, Fauci appeared irritated and said the senator was completely off base.

"I challenge that, senator," Fauci said, before asking for more time to finish his response "because this happens with Senator Rand all the time."

"You are not listening to what the director of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] said, that in New York [the infection rate is] about 22 percent. If you believe 22 percent is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that," Fauci said.