Dr. Fauci and Sen. Paul clash over masks in Senate hearing

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Dr. Anthony Fauci and Republican Sen. Rand Paul clashed in a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday over wearing masks.

“You’re telling everybody to wear a mask, whether they’ve had an infection or a vaccine,” Sen. Paul said. “What I am saying is they have immunity, and everybody agrees they have immunity. What studies do you have that people that have had the vaccine or have had the infection are spreading the infection? If we’re not spreading the infection, isn’t it just theater?”

“No, it’s not,” Fauci said.

“No, it’s not, here we go again with the theater,” Fauci responded. “Let’s get down to the facts.”

Watch the full encounter in the player below.

The two discussed various studies in the hearing, but Fauci pointed to the issue of variants circulating in the U.S. as a key reason to wear masks. He said he agreed that there is immunity for at least six months with the “wild type” of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The “wild type” refers to the original strain of the virus without mutations.

Sen. Paul said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was basing his arguments on “conjecture.”

“You’ve been vaccinated, and you parade in two masks for show,” Sen. Paul said to Dr. Fauci.

“No,” Fauci replied.

“You can’t get it again. There’s virtually 0% chance you’re going to get it, and yet you’re telling people that have had the vaccine — you’re defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear a mask who have been vaccinated,” Sen. Paul said.

“No,” Fauci said again.

Sen. Paul, who was an ophthalmologist, argued that telling people they wouldn’t have to wear masks would assist with vaccine hesitancy.

“Well, let me just state for the record that masks are not theater, masks are protective, and we ask..” Fauci said, but was cut off.

“Masks are theater,” Paul contended. “If you already have immunity, you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others; you are not wearing a mask because of the science.”

“I totally disagree with you,” Fauci said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends people wear masks over the face and nose to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier this month, the CDC said fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing.

According to the CDC, a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public.