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Fauci Smacks Down Rand Paul in COVID-19 Senate Hearing

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Dr. Anthony Fauci had just about enough of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) during a Senate hearing Wednesday morning. Paul has repeatedly targeted Fauci, accusing him of being authoritarian in his suggestions aimed at protecting the public from COVID-19.

Paul, who contracted the virus in March and infamously went swimming in a public pool while awaiting test results, has loudly criticized mask mandates and closures of schools and businesses. He’s also taken issue with government spending that provided some relief for millions of unemployed people and others financially distressed due to the pandemic and subsequent shelter orders.

While many others share his grievances, Paul has made a name for himself with some less-than-expert assertions about the virus and his contentious exchanges with health experts, particularly with Fauci.

The libertarian senator went after the top White House health expert again Wednesday, and again twisted Fauci’s words and made baseless claims. 

Using Sweden as an example, Paul asserted countries that did very little to mitigate the virus had better case mortality rates than those where strict regulations were imposed. A review of comparable Scandavian countries using John Hopkins University data disproves Paul’s claims. But Paul, an optometrist, continued his attack on Fauci, the director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Pressing the immunologist on what contributed to New York’s declining test positivity rate, Paul posited that the state had reached “herd immunity.” 

Fauci wasn’t having it, telling Paul he’s “not listening” and that he’s repetitively “misconstrued” and essentially misrepresented his comments.

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports that herd immunity is usually reached when 50 percent to 90 percent of a population has become immune, either by developing antibodies after infection or by vaccine. The required percentage depends on how contagious specific viruses are.

The outcome would be devastating if herd immunity was attempted in the U.S. by infection only, prior to a safe vaccine distribution. According to John Hopkins COVID-19 tracking, the case mortality rate in the U.S. is currently about 3 percent. If 50 percent of the population, or 164 million people, were to contract the virus, it stands to reason that nearly 5 million people could die as a result. Potential deaths alone are not the only risk with this virus — It is 

Still, the flawed strategy has been floated by presidential adviser Scott Atlas and pursued to some degree by Donald Trump. Fauci has not supported that strategy.

Signals have been mixed on the development of a vaccine. Trump repeatedly tells the public an approved vaccine is just around the corner; however, recent criticism of the Food and Drug Administration and pushback from health experts raises questions about whether proper testing is being prioritized in the “Operation Warp Speed” race.

Though Fauci Wednesday expressed cautious optimism that a vaccine could be identified by the end of the year or early 2021, he has previously pushed that expectation date well into the middle of next year.      

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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