Six times Fauci and Rand Paul clashed in hearings

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
New York Times/Pool

Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert and chief medical adviser to President Biden, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ophthalmologist and member of the Senate Health Committee, have frequently clashed in hearings throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

In the latest tense exchange on Tuesday, Fauci told Paul, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

But it was just the latest entry in a long line of scuffles between the two figures who represent the wide rift in beliefs around COVID-19. 

Paul, who recovered from the virus last year and has said he will not be vaccinated, has called Fauci a “petty tyrant” and accused him of writing “science fiction” while promoting unnecessary health restrictions. Fauci has maintained Paul is promoting false health facts and downplaying the coronavirus. 

Paul has attacked Fauci in tweets and Fauci has made critical comments about Paul in interviews, but the two men have also faced off multiple times in hearings. 

Here are six of Fauci and Paul’s conflicts over the past year and a half.

May 12, 2020: Paul urges more ‘humility’ from Fauci  

“I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice of this. I’m a scientist, a physician, and a public health official,” Fauci told Paul, in their first face-to-face clash.


June 30, 2020: Paul tells Fauci to provide ‘more optimism’ on virus

Believing Fauci to be overly cautious on his assessment of the coronavirus, Paul advised the doctor to lighten up during a congressional hearing, telling him “We just need more optimism. There is good news out there, and we’re not getting it,” Paul told Fauci.


September 23, 2020: Fauci corrects Paul on herd immunity

“If you believe 22 percent is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that,” Fauci told Paul. Visibly frustrated and raising his voice in response to Paul’s claims that New York was building herd immunity, he said Paul was “not listening” to health officials.


March 18, 2021: Paul argues wearing a mask is ‘theater’

During another hearing, Paul argued there were no studies that could prove masks were required after vaccination or infection from COVID-19. 

“You’re making policy based on conjecture!” Paul said. “You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around in two masks for show,” he continued. “If you already have immunity, you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others. You’re not wearing a mask because of any science.”


May 11, 2021: Fauci and Paul argue over the origins of the virus


When Paul accused the National Institutes of Health of funding “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute, pressing Fauci on the theory that the novel coronavirus was created in the Wuhan lab. 

Fauci denied the allegation that the NIH funded gain of function research at the institute, telling Paul: “You are entirely and completely incorrect.” 


July 20, 2021: Paul accuses Fauci of lying to Congress 

Fauci told Paul “you do not know what you are talking about” after Paul accused him of lying to Congress about the origins of the coronavirus. Paul later told Fox News he planned on requesting a criminal referral into Fauci.

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus COVID-19 Joe Biden mask policy Rand Paul

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