Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) confronted top White House health adviser Dr.
Anthony Fauci on Thursday over the purported need for Americans who
have already been infected with or vaccinated against COVID-19 to
continue wearing masks.
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Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has recommended that Americans who receive a vaccination
against COVID-19 continue to wear face masks and practice social
distancing through the end of the year and into 2022.
During a Senate hearing on the nation's coronavirus response, Paul
questioned Fauci on the science behind his recommendation, asking if
any studies had shown mask-wearing is necessary post-vaccination.
"No scientific studies have shown significant numbers of reinfections
of patients previously infected or previously vaccinated, what specific
studies do you cite to argue that the public should be wearing masks
well into 2022?" Paul asked.
"You're telling everybody to wear a mask whether they've had an
infection or a vaccine, what I'm saying is they have immunity and
everybody agrees they have immunity," he continued. "What studies do
you have that people who have had the vaccine or have had the infection
are spreading the infection?"
"If we're not spreading the infection, isn't it just theater?" Paul
"Here we go again with the theater," Fauci responded. "Let's get down
Fauci argued that different variants of the coronavirus present "a good
reason to wear a mask," citing a Johnson & Johnson study that found
some individuals previously infected with "wild" type of coronavirus
had no resistance to and were infected by a South African variant of
"I agree with you that you very likely would have protection from wild
type for at least six months if you're infected but we in our country
now have variants that are circulating," Fauci said.
But Paul pushed back on Fauci's assertion, demanding that the doctor
point to a scientific study that shows there's significant risk of
coronavirus reinfection, hospitalization, or death for people who have
"It doesn't exist. There is no evidence that there are significant
reinfections after vaccine," Paul contended.
Fauci said Paul was "not hearing what I'm saying about variants," but
the senator countered that there is no evidence of a significant
problem with coronavirus reinfections. Fauci then explained the
coronavirus variants aren't prevalent enough to cause a problem but may
become a serious issue later.
"You're making policy based on conjecture," Paul accused.
"You've been vaccinated and you parade around in two masks for show,"
he continued. "You can't get it again, there's virtually 0% chance
you're going to get it ... you're defying everything we know about
immunity by telling people to wear masks who've been vaccinated."
"Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater, masks are protective," Fauci began to say before Paul interjected.
"Past-immunity they are theater," the senator said. "If you already
have immunity, you're wearing a mask to give comfort to others. You're
not wearing a mask because of any science."
"I totally disagree with you," Fauci said.
Fauci did not point to a scientific study that shows there is a
significant risk of coronavirus reinfection for vaccinated Americans.
Previously, Fauci has said that when health experts and policy makers
"don't have the data and you don't have the actual evidence, then
you've got to make a judgment call."