Dr. Anthony Fauci elicited the ire of his chief rival in the Senate, Rand Paul, after Fauci criticized Republicans who have accused him of lying about funding gain-of-function research.
In particular, Fauci drove a new wave of condemnation with his word choice, telling CBS News that he represents science.
"The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science. It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity," Paul tweeted Sunday.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including those who have recovered from the virus and have built up natural immunity against it, though questions remain, including how long the protection lasts.
Still, Republicans have piled on Fauci, including after he said in September he did not have a "firm answer" when asked if natural immunity offered better protection from COVID-19 than the vaccine.
This latest salvo from Paul, a Kentucky Republican, covers another facet of the coronavirus story.
The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science. It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity. https://t.co/rcDezphVRR— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) November 28, 2021
The NIH said last month that one particular group under scrutiny, EcoHealth Alliance, violated grant rules in failing to report research findings on mice becoming sicker when infected by a certain bat coronavirus. The nonprofit group contends it did meet reporting requirements.
Fauci has denied that the National Institutes of Health funded risky gain-of-function research, but critics including Paul contend the NIH letter confirms that the Wuhan lab collaborator had indeed been conducting gain-of-function research.
Gain-of-function research is defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as research “that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease" to "enable assessment of the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents." It warns these studies “may entail biosafety and biosecurity risks.”
Paul has clashed with Fauci multiple times during hearings and even referred him to the Justice Department for prosecution, accusing President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser of lying to Congress about gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China.
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Fauci told Face the Nation that Republicans, including Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, calling for him to be prosecuted or step down is nothing but "noise" in the political sphere.
"They're really criticizing science because I represent science. That's dangerous," he added later.