White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday clashed with Sen. Rand Paul at a Senate hearing on the nation’s coronavirus response.
Dr. Fauci shut down Sen. Paul’s claim that New York has overcome the coronavirus pandemic because it achieved herd immunity. He also told the Republican lawmaker he was “not listening” to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to reports, the senator compared New York’s response with that by Sweden, which decided to keep its economy open. Public health experts have long argued that Sweden’s vulnerable population have paid a price for that decision.
Paul further said New York has achieved herd immunity from the coronavirus and is “no longer having the pandemic.”
“To those who argue that the lockdown flattened the curve in New York and New Jersey, the evidence argues otherwise,” Paul said.
Dr. Fauci replied: “No, you misconstrued that, senator, and you’ve done that repetitively in the past.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then explained to the audience at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing, “They got hit very badly, they made some mistakes. Right now if you look at what’s going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things of masks, social distancing, outdoors more than indoors, avoiding crowds and washing hands.”
The doctor also “challenged” Paul’s claim that New York has achieved herd immunity.
Fauci said 22% of New York’s residents have likely been exposed to the coronavirus. Sixty percent to 80% of a population needs to be vaccinated or develop antibodies through natural infection to achieve herd immunity.
“You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said,” Fauci told Paul. “If you believe that 22% is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, was also present in the hearing. He had warned that more than 90% of the U.S. population “remains susceptible” to Covid-19.
Dr. Redfield said the coronavirus has spread across America at varying rates since it crossed U.S. shores in January, infecting as much as 15% to 20% of the population in some states and less than 1% in others.