The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci clashed with Sen. Rand Paul over mask wearing during a hearing on Thursday about the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that fully vaccinated individuals still wear face coverings in public, in gatherings with others from outside their household, and when visiting another person who is unvaccinated and at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Paul pressed Fauci on why people need to continue wearing masks once they’ve already been infected with or vaccinated against COVID-19.
Paul accused Fauci of engaging in “theater” by wearing two masks even though he has been vaccinated.
“You’re telling everyone to wear a mask,” Paul said. “If we’re not spreading the infection, isn’t it just theater? You have the vaccine and you’re wearing two masks, isn’t that theater?”
“Here we go again with the theater,” Fauci responded. “Let’s get down to the facts.”
Paul argued there are no studies that show significant reinfection among people who have recovered from the virus or after vaccination.
“I agree with you, that you very likely would have protection from wild type for at least six months if you’re infected,” Fauci said. The variants are a “good reason for a mask.”
“You’re making policy based on conjecture!” Paul said, and claimed Dr. Fauci wants people to wear masks “for another couple of years.”
“You’ve been vaccinated and you parade around in two masks for show,” he continued. “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.”
“Let me just state for the record, masks are not theater,” Fauci said. “I totally disagree” with what Paul said.
Dr. Fauci then explained–without interruption from Paul– why people need to wear a mask even though they are vaccinated or may have had the infection.
“If I vaccinate you or me against the wild-type you get a certain level of antibody that’s specific for a particular viral strain,” Fauci said. “If there’s a circulating variant, you don’t necessarily have it. You have some spillover immunity to be sure, but you diminish, by anywhere from two- to eight-fold, the protection. So the point I’m saying is that there are variants now circulating.”