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Over the past 12 months, Dr. Anthony Fauci – director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the most important institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), had different political clashes in Senate hearings and in messages regarding the handling of the pandemic.
In each of these exchanges, Senator Paul not only came out on top, he also made Dr. Fauci fall into constant communication inconsistencies in the last year.
Hannah Cox, from FEE, tells is best: “Time has proven Rand Paul had his thumb on the pulse of the science of the virus, and understood the unintended consequences of government interventions better than public health officials.”
Cox has a point: Senator Paul, often singled out and criticized by both the media and scientific experts for his positions regarding how to handle the pandemic, fiercely criticized the Federal Government and scientists like Dr. Fauci for their contradictory recommendations throughout the health crisis.
Dr. Fauci, specifically, had notorious miscommunications on issues such as vaccines and the return to normalcy, the use of masks for those who are vaccinated, the return to school, and even the most recent and perhaps most serious controversy: where and how did the coronavirus originate?
The famous clashes
Last summer, just months into the pandemic, Senator Rand Paul was already advocating for the reopening of schools to get children back into the classroom. The senator explained that data shows that children are much less affected by COVID-19 than adults, and that it did not make sense to keep them out of school, especially since prolonged lockdowns affect children academically and psychologically.
“Dr. Fauci, every day we seem to hear from you things we can’t do,” Paul said at a Senate committee hearing in late June 2020. “It’s important to realize that if society meekly submits to an expert and that expert is wrong, a great deal of harm may occur (…) Take for example government experts who continue to call for schools and day care to stay closed or that recommend restrictions that make it impossible for a school to function.”
“There’s a great deal of evidence and it’s actually good, good evidence that kids aren’t transmitting this, it’s rare and that kids are staying healthy and that yes we can open our schools,” Senator Paul asserted.
At the time, Dr. Fauci disagreed with Senator Paul on the issue of getting children back into the classroom, the scientist said that we had to be “careful” and “humble” with the scientific evidence presented by the Republican because little was yet known about the impact of COVID-19 on the very young.
However, in November 2020, Dr. Fauci went from disagreeing with Paul to agreeing with him in another space: “If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not very big at all,” said Fauci.
In this case, the scientific evidence presented by Paul was backed up over time. And the experts’ contradictions are doing a lot of damage today: many families are hesitant to send their children to school even though the vaccination process is advancing rapidly and the pandemic in the U.S. appears to be under control.
Another point where Dr. Fauci and Rand Paul had a strong crossroads was on the use of masks. Rand Paul has long been a skeptic of wearing masks at all times, especially with people who are 100% vaccinated, as the effectiveness of the doses is quite high.
Dr. Fauci, on the other hand, wore the masks in public even when he himself was vaccinated, even though the scientific evidence shows that it is not necessary. The senator called Dr. Fauci’s decision “theatrics.”
The expert was widely criticized for the contradiction of wearing a mask while vaccinated, causing a disincentive among citizens to receive the vaccines.
“I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals” explained Fauci, “But being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low.”
To exemplify the contradictions of experts and Dr. Fauci himself on this issue, four days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the end of facemasks, Fauci himself said they were weighing whether to recommend the use of masks at certain times of the year because of seasonal flus. On the day of the CDC announcement, the scientist said you could stop wearing your mask if you are vaccinated and outdoors.
On May 28, the CDC provided guidance for summer camps, explaining that children do not always need masks. Senator Paul tweeted, “About damn time. Now free our kids from the lunacy of running track with masks and other nonsense.”
Health experts have been criticizing both the CDC and Dr. Fauci for their excessive caution in lifting the health restrictions.
Origin of COVID-19: Paul’s KO to Dr. Fauci
The final round where Rand Paul ended up defeating Dr. Fauci was in their last crossover at another Senate hearing.
Paul accused, based on information published by science writer Nicholas Wade, the NIH of funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) that was conducting a controversial experiment with bat coronaviruses called “gain of function.”
Fauci denied Paul’s accusations, spouting the viralized phrase: “You are entirely and completely wrong.”
“Government defenders of gain of function such as yourself, say that COVID-19 mutations were random and not designed by man,” the senator said to Fauci. “‘Could you rule out a laboratory escape? The answer in this case is probably not. Will you in front of this group categorically say that the COVID-19 could not have occurred through serial passage in a laboratory?”
“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done and I’m fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China” Fauci asserted.
However, while continuing to assert that the NIH or NIAID had something to do with the “gain of function,” days later Dr. Fauci admitted and justified “modest” funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for $600,000 to do bat coronavirus research.
This situation again left Dr. Fauci, who has contradicted himself in assessing the possibility of a laboratory accident as the origin of the virus, in a bad light.
The latest blow on this issue was also delivered by Senator Rand Paul.In 2012, Dr. Fauci himself said that a gain of function could potentially be a cause of a future pandemic.
Today, in 2021, more than a year after the start of COVID-19 and with various diplomatic reports revealing that the Wuhan Institute of Virology carried forward a gain of function, Dr. Fauci is still quite cautious about mentioning the lab’s theory.
Paul took advantage of this situation to point out on Twitter, “Fauci acknowledged that a gain of function super virus could escape a lab and cause a pandemic, but that it is worth the risk. His naïveté should disqualify him from government service.”
If the contest between Fauci and Paul were a boxing match, the Republican senator would take the win by a first round knockout.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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