Republicans grilled the president’s chief medical advisor Wednesday during Senate testimony, claiming conflicts of interest and “flawed science” have led to erroneous COVID-19 vaccination guidelines.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dr. Antony Fauci came to verbal blows, once again, as Paul questioned the doctor’s evolving view on immunology and whether anyone with the FDA had financial conflicts of interest that may have influenced vaccination guidelines.
“When people decry vaccine hesitancy, it’s coming from the gobbledygook that you give us. You’re not paying attention to the science,” Paul said, referring to the many instances Fauci testified that previous flu infection is the best way to fight future infection. “The very basic science is that previous infection provides a level of immunity. If you ignore that in your studies, if you don’t present that in your committees, you’re not being truthful. Do any of the guidelines include previous infection?”
A flabbergasted Fauci said he “never, ever denied fundamental immunology. In fact, I wrote the chapter in the Textbook of Medicine on fundamental immunology.”
Making the lack of reference to previous infection in Center for Disease Control guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination even more telling, according to Paul.
“Do any of the guidelines for vaccines from the government include previous infection as something to base your decision-making on the vaccine?” Paul asked again. “That’s why you’re ignoring previous infection. It doesn’t involve any of the guidelines.”
The heated exchange ramped up when Paul questioned possible conflicts of interest within the FDA.
“We’ve been asking you and you refuse to answer whether anybody on the vaccine committees gets royalties from the pharmaceutical companies,” the senator said. “I asked you last time and what was your response? ‘We don’t have to tell you.’”
Paul tried to obtain the information through Freedom of Information Act requests after being repeatedly stymied by Fauci, but was blocked again, he said.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases claimed to have no responsibility or oversight of the committees Paul referred to.
“You keep saying ‘you approve, you do this and you do that.’ The committees who give the approval are FDA through their advisory committee. The committees that recommend are CDC through their advisory committee,” Fauci said. “You keep saying I’m the one that’s approving a vaccine based on certain data. So I don’t really understand.”
Paul implied Fauci was deflecting, saying he told the committee on more than one occasion that he could not reveal whether anyone received royalties related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’ll tell you this, when we get in charge, we’re going change the rules and you will have to divulge where you get your royalties from, from what companies, and if anybody on the committee has a conflict of interest. We’re gonna learn about it. I promise you that,” Paul told Fauci before being cut off for exceeding the time limit for discussion.
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