During a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pension hearing with Fauci several other top health officials, Paul questioned the effectiveness of strict mitigation efforts in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
He began by noting that at the beginning of the outbreak, officials said a lockdown was necessary to help prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
Paul also noted that some models predicted the death toll from the virus would be similar without mitigation efforts.
However, he said the mitigation effort “morphed into a belief that we could change the course of the pandemic with an economic lockdown.” And he claimed that the death toll in New York and New Jersey proved that the lockdowns were not effective.
In contrast, Paul pointed to Sweden, which did not implement strict mitigation efforts, and “Sweden’s death rate ended up about a third of New York and New Jersey.”
He went on to claim that the statistics have proven that humans cannot alter the “course of an infectious disease through crowd control.”
However, he suggested that Asian countries saw lower death rates because the citizenry of those countries has “pre-existing cross-reactive immunity” to coronaviruses.
Paul said, “Dr. Fauci, today you said you are not for economic lockdown, yet your mitigation recommendations from dating to baseball to restaurants to movie theaters have led to this economic lockdown.”
He asked, “Do you have any second thoughts about your mitigation recommendations considering the evidence that despite all of the things we’ve done in the U.S., our death rate is essentially worse than Sweden, equivalent to the less-developed world?”
Fauci responded, “I’d be happy at a different time to sit down and go over detail. You’ve said a lot of different things. You’ve compared us to Sweden, and there are a lot of differences … but compare Sweden’s death rate to other comparable Scandinavian countries, it’s worse. So I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare Sweden to us.”
“We’ve done things based on the knowledge we had at the time … 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 … I mean essentially having the physical separation and the kinds of recommendations that we’ve made,” he added.
Watch the exchange below:
Rand Paul just confronted Dr. Fauci to his face on lockdowns:— Kelb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 23, 2020
"You have been a been fan of Cuomo and the shutdown in NY. You lauded NY for their policy. NY had the highest death rate in the world. How could we possibly be jumping up and down and saying Cuomo did a great job?" pic.twitter.com/VdXWVZ5TGM
“You’ve been a big fan of Cuomo and the shutdown in New York,” Paul shot back. “You’ve lauded New York for their policy. New York has had the highest death rate in the world. How can we possibly be jumping up and down saying Governor Cuomo did a great job?”
Fauci countered and accused Paul of misconstruing his statements, which he said, “You’ve done that repetitively in the past.”
“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% or less, is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together,” he added.
Paul then claimed that New York’s positivity rate is low because residents have developed “community immunity” to the virus.
Fauci began to respond to Paul but was interrupted by another senator. He said, “Please, sir, I would like to be able to do this because this happens with Senator Rand all the time.”
He continued to smack down Paul’s assertion about immunity, “You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said that in New York, it’s about 22%. If you believe 22% is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that.”