Dr Anthony Fauci loses patience with Senator Rand Paul in coronavirus hearing (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Coronavirus expert Dr Anthony Fauci lost his patience with US Senator Rand Paul and accused him of “not listening” as he denied claims New Yorkers had herd immunity to Covid-19.
It is the latest in a string of public spats on the virus between the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and the Kentucky senator.
Sen Paul, himself a medical doctor, argued with Dr Fauci during Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the US response to the Coronavirus pandemic, which has now taken more than 200,000 lives.
Mr Paul appeared to irritate Dr Fauci when he called the scientist “a big fan” of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and asked how given the state’s struggles with Covid-19 he could “be jumping up and down saying Cuomo did a great job?”
“You’ve misconstrued that, senator, and you’ve done that repeatedly in the past,” said Dr Fauci.
“They got hit very badly and 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 per cent 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.”
Mr Paul then interrupted and told Dr Fauci it could be because they had “developed enough community immunity.”
A frustrated Dr Fauci then hit out at Mr Paul’s line of questioning.
“I challenge that, senator,” Fauci replied.
“Please, sir, I would like to be able to do this because this happens with Senator Rand all the time.
“You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said that in New York it’s about 22 per cent. If you believe 22 per cent is herd immunity I believe you’re alone in that.”
The pair also clashed when Mr Paul compared the virus in the US to Sweden, which did not impose a lockdown, and asked him if he had “second thoughts” on his recommendations.
“Senator, I’d be happy at a different time to sit down and go over detail,” Fauci replied.
“You’ve said a lot of different things. You’ve compared us to Sweden and there are a lot of differences and you said, well, you know there are a lot of differences between Sweden, but compare Sweden’s death rate to other comparable Scandinavian countries.
“I don’t regret saying that the only way we could have really stopped the explosion of infection was by essentially, I want to say shutting down, essentially having the physical separation and the kinds of recommendations that we’ve made.”