Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday clashed with White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci about whether children who were previously infected with COVID-19 still need to be vaccinated, the latest in his long-running feud with the nation’s top infectious diseases doctor.
During a Senate hearing about the administration’s response to monkeypox, Paul played a clip of Fauci on C-SPAN in 2004, where he tells someone who was infected with the flu they do not need a flu shot.
“If she got the flu for 14 days, she’s as protected as anybody can be, because the best vaccination is to get infected yourself,” Fauci said in the video.
Paul then pressed Fauci on why his comments about COVID-19 differed from what he said about the flu, and why he recommends parents vaccinate their children even if they’ve previously been infected with the virus.
“What you’re doing is denying the very fundamental premise of immunology, that previous infection does provide some sort of immunity,” Paul said. “People decry vaccine hesitancy— it’s coming from the gobbledygook you give us. You’re not paying attention to the science.”
Fauci replied that Paul was taking the clip out of context, and produced a Reuters fact check that said his comments on the flu in the interview did not contradict his COVID-19 pandemic stance.
“I have never ever denied fundamental immunology. In fact I wrote the chapter in the textbook of medicine on fundamental immunology,” Fauci countered. He said a previous infection is a “very potent way” to be protected, but getting vaccinated on top of a previous infection gives an “added, extra boost.”
Paul then pivoted to berating Fauci about vaccine royalties, and whether he or anyone on the agency committees that vote on authorizing vaccines get any payments from pharmaceutical companies.
“We’ve been asking you, and you refuse to answer, whether anyone on the vaccine committees gets royalties from the pharmaceutical companies. I asked you last time, and what was your response? We don’t have to tell you,” Paul said.
Paul got into an argument with Fauci over the same topic in June, when Fauci told him that according to regulations, people who receive royalties are not required to divulge them.
Fauci has become a political lightning rod and a villain in the eyes of many on the right. Conservative media has painted him as a scapegoat for many of the nation’s missteps over the pandemic. He has served in government for more than 50 years, and is stepping down at the end of the year.
He has clashed repeatedly with Republicans in Congress, but especially Paul, who are eagerly floating investigations into the Biden administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic if they win back control of the House or Senate in November’s midterm elections.
Paul threatened similar action on Wednesday.
“But I tell you this. When we get in charge, we’re going to change the rules and you will have to divulge where you get your royalties from … and if anyone on the committee has a conflict of interest we’re going to learn about, I promise you that,” Paul said.