Dr. Anthony Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul had a heated exchange Wednesday over the coronavirus and herd immunity.
The exchange occurred Wednesday between the infectious disease expert and Kentucky Republican senator during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Paul, who has long been a critic of Fauci’s response to COVID-19, criticized Fauci for praising the job New York City has done in getting its coronavirus numbers down.
“No, you’ve misconstrued that, senator, and you’ve done that repetitively in the past,” Fauci quipped back at Paul.
“You’ve misconstrued that, senator, and you’ve done that repeatedly in the past.”
Dr. Fauci pushes back against Sen. Rand Paul’s claims on the coronavirus.
“You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said” about immunity rates in New York. https://t.co/DIRyayK8nL pic.twitter.com/f6qTu8eWOG
— CNN (@CNN) September 23, 2020
When Fauci said New York City’s numbers have improved because it enforced the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force’s guidelines, Paul suggested the city beat the pandemic because it has reached herd immunity.
“I challenge that, senator… This happens with Sen. Rand all the time,” Fauci responded. “You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said, that in New York (the infection rate) is about 22%. If you believe 22% is herd immunity, I believe you are alone in that.”
Herd immunity occurs when enough of a population becomes immune to a disease through vaccine or already getting sick to make the spread unlikely between people in the community, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said in June that about 60% to 70% of the population must be infected with the coronavirus to reach herd immunity, McClatchy News reported.
Fauci said earlier this month the U.S. should not attempt to pursue herd immunity, McClatchy reported.
“We certainly are not wanting to wait back and just let people get infected so that you can develop herd immunity,” Fauci said on MSNBC. “That’s certainly not my approach.”
Officials from the World Health Organization have also warned against herd immunity as a way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“If we think about herd immunity in a natural sense of just letting a virus run, it’s very dangerous,” Maria Van Kerkhove, who helps lead the WHO’s pandemic response, said in a press briefing. “A lot of people would die.”