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Fauci tears into Rand Paul for using ‘pandemic for political gain’ with attacks

Fauci tears into Rand Paul for using ‘pandemic for political gain’ with attacks
Dr Anthony Fauci came to blows with Rand Paul during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, accusing the lawmaker of “distorting everything about me”.

Dr Anthony Fauci came to blows with Rand Paul during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, accusing the lawmaker of “distorting everything about me”.

Tensions between the pair boiled over as Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joined other top coronavirus experts in the Biden administration testifying before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

When Mr Paul asked Dr Fauci why he disagreed with scientists who say Covid-19 originated in a lab, Dr Fauci asserted that the senator was distorting the content of an email in which he says the expert attacked scientists that he disagreed with.

“There you go again, you just do the same thing every hearing,” Dr Fauci said.

“In usual fashion, senador, who are distorting everything about me. You keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance.”

Dr Fauci is the target of a video released on Monday evening by Project Veritas claiming that he was involved in research projects related to coronaviruses by the Wuhan Institute of Virology that were deemed too risky by the Department of Defense, emails cited by the group claim.

During his exchange with Mr Paul, Dr Fauci laid into the GOP senator for his frequent attacks, which he said were simply a means for Mr Paul to grow his personal brand in the GOP.

"Então, why would a Senator want to do this? Go to Rand Paul’s website and you see fire Dr Fauci with a little box that says contribute here. You can do five dollars, ten dollars, twenty dollars, one hundred dollars. So you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain,” said the NIAID director, pointing out a donation box emblazoned with his own face in a screenshot taken from Mr Paul’s campaign website.

Earlier in the hearing, Dr Fauci warned the committee that the US faced an “urgent need” for a so-called super vaccine that would be more effective at preventing new variants of Covid-19 and other coronaviruses.

“Looking ahead in the context of the inevitable continual emergence of new variants, the importance of developing a pan-coronavirus vaccine, namely one that would be effective against all SARS-COVID-2 variants, and ultimately against all coronaviruses, becomes even more apparent,” he told the senators.

He added that there was an “urgent need for such an effort”, and added that NIAID was making significant progress on the issue.

Such a vaccine would theoretically be effective against not only Covid-19, but a wide range of diseases that fall under the coronavirus umbrella, including the common cold.

His remarks come as concerns have been raised by medical experts about the Omicron variant’s effectiveness at evading the protection provided by the vaccine at a higher rate than other variants. Breakthrough cases often prevent as mild or asymptomatic cases, but can still leave individuals debilitated for days and potentially facing long-term symptoms.

Dr Fauci himself is also a long-running target of the right over a wide range of issues. While Mr Paul and others on Capitol Hill have accused him of supporting measures to prevent Covid-19 that are supposedly draconian violations of individuals’ rights, the NIAID director has also faced criticism for unrelated issues such as the use of animals in studies funded by the agency to develop vaccines for serious diseases.

As pointed out by Dr Fauci at Tuesday’s hearing, a man was recently arrested in Iowa after expressing an intent to murder him and being caught with a high-powered rifle and significant amounts of ammunition. The man threatened, according to police, to kill other high-profile politicians including President Joe Biden as well.

Mr Paul is frequently the NIAID director’s top foe on Capitol Hill, mercilessly tearing to the doctor at every available opportunity despite growing warnings that the personal tone of the attacks have fueled the GOP base’s anger against Dr Fauci and encouraged violent threats.

Dr Fauci, in return, has repeatedly pointed out misinformation spread by Mr Paul and other Republicans on Capitol Hill who have driven a division in their caucus with attacks against medical professionals and the Covid-19 vaccines themselves even as party leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and some Republican governors such as Maryland Gov Larry Hogan have taken the opposite approach.