White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci once again found himself sparring with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Thursday after the Republican senator complained about mask-wearing mandates amid the country hitting soaring levels of vaccinations.
During a Senate hearing on COVID-19 response efforts, Paul argued that the public shouldn’t have to wear masks after getting vaccinated because he believes there is “virtually 0% chance” they will contract the novel coronavirus.
Paul also took aim at Fauci for his remarks earlier this year saying that double masking during the pandemic “makes common sense.” Paul insinuated that wearing masks after receiving vaccines against COVID-19 is “just theater.”
“You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around in two masks for show. You can’t get it again,” Paul said. “There’s virtually 0% chance you’re going to get it and you’re telling people that have had the vaccine who have immunity — you’re defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear masks who have been vaccinated.”
Fauci immediately hit back at the notion that he is promoting a show amid the pandemic that has killed more than 530,000 Americans thus far.
“Here we go again with the theater,” Fauci said, appearing exasperated. ″Can I just state for the record that masks are not theater.”
After firmly telling Paul that he disagrees with him, Fauci pointed to a South African study conducted by Johnson & Johnson on the emergence of highly contagious variants. The study found that the new variants could potentially infect those who’ve been vaccinated or reinfect individuals who previously recovered from COVID-19.
“It was as if they had never been infected before, they had no protection,” Fauci said, referring to the South African study by J&J.
The latest spar between Fauci and Paul comes a week after the CDC issued new guidance for people who are fully vaccinated, which includes being able to safely meet with other vaccinated individuals indoors without having to wear masks or practice social distancing.
However, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stressed last week that the agency had released initial guidance and that there is still more research to be done on the novel coronavirus, such as the efficacy of vaccines over time.
Taking a cue from former President Trump, Paul has tried to smear Fauci by accusing the nation’s top infectious disease expert of bias. Paul told Fox News in November that Fauci “believes that submission and lockdowns are fine.”
Paul and Fauci also butted heads during a Senate Health Committee hearing last September, when Fauci schooled Paul over coronavirus restrictions after the Republican senator tried to throw the infectious diseases expert under the bus for supposedly being a “big fan” of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) response to the pandemic.
"Here we go again" — Fauci and Rand Paul had another dust up during a hearing today pic.twitter.com/pyXVJoQNPa
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 18, 2021