Jan 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Fauci accuses Rand Paul of using pandemic for "political gain"

Dr. Anthony Fauci gives opening statements during a Senate hearing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci gives an opening statement during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Jan. 11. Photo: Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci, in a fiery exchange with Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday, accused the Kentucky senator of "making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain."

Driving the news: "In usual fashion, senator, you are distorting everything about me," Fauci said, responding to repeated attacks by Paul during a hearing before the Senate's health panel on the federal response to COVID-19 variants.

  • Fauci suggested that Paul's repeated attacks on him have led to "threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me."
  • Paul accused Fauci of working to "smear" the reputations of other scientists, among other things.

The big picture: The back and forth comes after numerous heated exchanges have transpired between Fauci and Paul throughout the pandemic.

  • Fauci in October responded to charges by Paul, saying that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.
  • In November, Fauci said that GOP lawmakers, including Paul, who criticize him are "criticizing science, because I represent science."

Go deeper: Fauci: Republican detractors are "criticizing science"

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