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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, testified virtually on reopening the country’s economy Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned about a rush to reopen, insisting that “checkpoints” must be established.
“The consequences could be serious,” he testified.
He ran into a buzz-saw of sorts when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., got his turn to speak — Paul is the only member of the U.S. Senate to test positive for COVID-19.
“The history of this, when we look back,” Paul began, “will be wrong prediction after wrong prediction after wrong prediction — so I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what is best for the economy.”
“As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end all,” he continued. “I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side who are saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely reopen the economy.”
Asking to respond, Fauci said, “Sen. Paul, thank you for your comments. I’ve never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice on this. I’m a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence.”
“There are a number of other people who come into that and give advice that is more related to the things you spoke about,” the doctor added. “The need to get the country back open again economically. I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t give advice about anything other than public health.”
At the same time, Fauci’s advice does have a direct impact on economic decisions being made.
Paul also said “we should look at the mortality of children” who contract COVID-19, and factor that into any decision on when to reopen schools. He pointed to Sweden as and what went on there as children continued to go to school.
“If we keep kids out of school for another year, what’s going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don’t have a parent available to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year.” he said.
Fauci stressed extreme caution when it comes to children.
“You used the word we should be humble about what we don’t know. I think that falls under the fact that we don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children,” he said.
Sen. Paul opened up by talking about recovering coronavirus patients developing immunity.
“Studies show the recovery in COVID-19 patients, from the asymptomatic to the very sick, are showing significant antibody response,” he said. “And yet, the media continues to report that we have no evidence that patients who survive coronavirus have immunity. I think, actually, the truth is the opposite. We have no evidence that survivors of coronavirus don’t have immunity and a great deal of evidence to suggest they do.”
Paul then asked Fauci, “Can you help set the record straight that the scientific record, as it’s being accumulated, is supportive that infection with coronavirus likely leads to some form of immunity.”
“Yes, you’re correct that I’ve said that given what we know about the recovery from viruses such as coronaviruses in general, or even any infectious disease with very few exceptions, when you have antibody present, it very likely indicates a degree of protection,” Fauci replied.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham praised Paul’s efforts in a pair of tweets:
Rand Paul saves the day! Calls out the “experts” and says you are not the “end all” to make all decisions. GAME, SET, MATCH.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) May 12, 2020
What @RandPaul did today at the hearing was the clearest, most concise, informed, practical response to the unaccountable COVID health experts & shutdowns I’ve heard from any elected official. Freedom. Period.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) May 12, 2020
Meanwhile, on the left:
Fauci fires back that we all “should be humbled about what we don’t know about this disease” esp what it does to kids. oh and also “I never called myself the end all.”
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) May 12, 2020
Still team Rand Paul’s neighbor.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) May 12, 2020
Rand Paul is an eye doctor so i guess that qualifies him to dispute the findings of one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases.
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) May 12, 2020
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