Rand Paul and Fauci Spar over COVID Vaccines during Senate Hearing

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dr. Anthony Fauci engaged in a tense discussion about COVID-19 vaccines during a Senate hearing Thursday.

Paul, a longtime critic of Fauci, began his line of questioning by asking the White House medical adviser whether he knew of any studies that “show reduction in hospitalization or death for children who take a booster.”

Fauci, who had to testify before the Senate HELP Committee remotely after testing positive for COVID on Wednesday, admitted he didn’t.

“Right now there’s not enough data that has been accumulated, Sen. Paul, to indicate that that’s the case,” Fauci said.

Paul’s question about booster vaccines’ efficacy for young children came just days before a CDC advisory panel voted unanimously to allow COVID vaccines for children as young as six months old.

After grilling Fauci on booster shots, Paul then questioned whether the infectious disease expert had ever received royalties from an organization for which he “oversaw the distribution of money and research grants.” Before he could answer, Paul clarified that he wasn’t just talking about Fauci, but every National Health Institute employee.

“Everybody on the vaccine committee — have any of them ever received money from the people who make vaccines?” Paul asked. “Can you tell me that?”

Fauci responded that scientists who receive royalties are “not required” to disclose them, even on financial statements. He then admitted he had received such royalties before, but downplayed the amount, telling the senator that the “average per year” was less than $200.

When Paul tried to continue his questioning, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee chair, interrupted.

“Sen. Paul, your time has long over-expired,” Murray said. “The witness has responded, we are going to move on.”

Thursday’s exchange was not the first time the two men had sparred over the federal government’s response to the pandemic. In January, during another committee hearing on COVID-19, Paul accused Fauci of a “desire to take down those who disagree with [him],” referring to a surfaced email which, Rand argued, showed Fauci and a colleague conspiring to discredit scientists who publicly disagreed with their appraisal of the pandemic.

Fauci argued in response that Paul was pushing a completely “distorted” picture of him.