Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra during a congressional hearing on Thursday over the Biden administration's seeming refusal to recognize natural immunity against COVID-19.
Paul began the tense exchange, which happened during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, by asking Becerra whether he was aware of an Israeli study that found natural immunity provided significantly stronger protection than the COVID-19 vaccine.
When Becerra admitted he is "not familiar with that study," Paul tore into the secretary.
"I think you might want to be if you're going to travel the country insulting the millions of Americans, including NBA star Jonathan Isaac, who had COVID, [and] recovered — look at a study with 2.5 million people, and say, 'Well, you know what, I should make the decision,'" Paul said. "Instead, you've called Jonathan Isaac and others, myself included, flat-earthers. We find that very insulting, it goes against the science."
"Are you a doctor or a medical doctor?" Paul pressed.
Becerra, in fact, is not a medical doctor or public health expert. He spent three decades in politics before joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet this year. Becerra dodged the direct question, telling Paul that he has "worked over 30 years on health policy."
You're not a medical doctor. Do you have a science degree? And yet you travel the country, calling people flat-earthers, who have had COVID, looked at studies of millions of people, and made their own personal decision that their immunity they naturally acquired is sufficient but you presume somehow to tell over 100 million Americans who survived COVID that we have no right to determine our own medical care. You alone are on high and you've made these decisions, a lawyer with no scientific background, no medical degree. This is an arrogance coupled with an authoritarianism that is unseemly and un-American.
You, sir, are the one ignoring the science. The vast preponderance of scientific studies, dozens and dozens, show robust, long-lasting immunity after COVID infection. Even the CDC does not recommend measles vaccine if you have measles immunity. The same was true for smallpox. But you ignore history and science to shame the flat-earthers, as you call them. You should be ashamed of yourself and apologize to the American people for being dishonest about naturally acquired immunity.
'You Sir, Are The One Ignoring Science': Rand Paul Battles Becerra Over COVID-19 Rules www.youtube.com
If the Biden administration wants to increase vaccination rates, then Paul told Becerra that officials must stop "lying to people about naturally acquired immunity."
"Quit lording it over people, acting as if these people are deplorable and unwashed. Try persuasion instead of government cudgels. Try humility instead of arrogance. Try freedom instead of coercion," Paul said. "Most of all, try understanding there is no more basic medical right than deciding what we inject into our bodies."
"Today, after hearing that millions of people in a study prove -- show without a doubt that there is a great deal of immunity from getting it naturally — do you want to apologize to the 100 million Americans who suffered through COVID, survived, have immunity, and yet you want to hold them down and vaccinate them?" Paul continued. "Do you want to apologize for calling those people flat-earthers?"
In response, Becerra did not address any of Paul's points, but claimed the HHS is following "facts" and "the science."
Paul responded by telling Becerra the HHS is not following the science, and explained he is not arguing against the COVID vaccine, but rather government mandates for people who have naturally acquired immunity.
"You are just ignoring [sciene] because you want submission. You just want everybody to submit to your will, do as you're told, despite the evidence, the large body of scientific evidence that says naturally acquired immunity does work, is an important part of how we're going to recover from this," Paul said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci infamously said last month he cannot explain why Americans with naturally acquired immunity against COVID-19 need the vaccine.