Rand Paul Says Anthony Fauci Is Increasing Vaccine Hesitancy

Republican Sen. Rand Paul speaks at a hearing.
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News & Politics

In an interview on Tuesday, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky praised Dr. Anthony Fauci for finally accepting "vaccine science."

Paul famously sparred with Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during March's Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearings, when he grilled the expert over his insistence that people vaccinated against the novel coronavirus should keep wearing face masks.

During the hearings, Paul claimed that Fauci wearing two face coverings despite getting the vaccine was "theater." 

Paul Praises Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks at a press conference.
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Months after pushing back against Paul's assertions, Fauci changed his opinion.

The nation's top infectious diseases expert now agrees with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recently updated its guidelines to say that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks indoors and outdoors in most situations.

Speaking with Newsmax, Paul welcomed Fauci's change of heart.

"I'm just glad that Dr. Fauci has now chosen to accept vaccine science -- basic vaccine science says you can't get it after you've been vaccinated; that's why we get vaccinated."

Theater 

Paul stood by his remarks that Fauci's insistence on wearing masks in public was "theater" and had nothing to with science or CDC recommendations.

The Kentucky Republican said that Fauci "was performing theater, wearing masks because he didn't want people to see him without a mask."

"It wasn't that masks worked or that he needed it. You heard the way he phrased it. He didn't want someone to see him without the mask. So, really, it was theater," he told Newsmax host Sean Spicer.

Vaccines 

Paul also said that Fauci's comments are causing vaccine hesitancy and argued that public health officials should stop treating ordinary Americans like "imbeciles."

"If we send them a signal that they're just making up this science and they're treating us like imbeciles, and they're doing things for show, it actually discourages some of the people who are hesitant to get vaccinated," he said.

Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, stressed that he is in favor of vaccines but noted that they should not be mandatory.

Hesitancy

According to a recent poll from CNN, 26 percent of Americans don't want to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Almost half of Republicans in the poll, 44 percent of them, said they will not try to get a vaccine. Twenty eight percent of independents and only 8 percent of Democrats said the same.

Similarly, a The Economist/YouGov poll released in April found that Americans opposed to vaccines are more likely to reject public health recommendations and have no confidence in the CDC or experts like Fauci.