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Top health expert Anthony Fauci rebuked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at a hearing on Wednesday over his suggestion that New York's COVID-19 infection rate is low because the population there has reached herd immunity.

The big picture: Paul, a libertarian who has criticized government lockdown measures as "authoritarian," has clashed with Fauci in previous hearings. Paul accused Fauci of being a "big fan" of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his lockdown restrictions, while Fauci said the Kentucky senator has repeatedly "misconstrued" his comments.

The exchange:

PAUL: "How can we possibly jump up and down and saying, 'Oh Gov. Cuomo did a great job.' He had the worst death rate in the world."
FAUCI: "No, you've misconstrued that senator and you've done that repetitively in the past. They got hit very badly. They made some mistakes. Right now, if you look at what's going on right now, the things going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things of masks, social distancing, outdoors more than indoors, avoiding crowds and washing hands."
PAUL: "Or that have developed enough community immunity that they're no longer having the pandemic because they have enough immunity in New York City to actually stop -- "
FAUCI: "I challenge that, senator. Please sir, I would like to be able to do this, because this happens with Sen. Rand all the time. You're not listening to what the director of the CDC said. In New York, it's about 22%. If you believe 22% is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that."

Go deeper ... Flashback: Rand Paul tells Fauci, "I don’t think you're the end-all" for coronavirus decisions

Go deeper

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers — U.S. on the lookout for Omicron casesFDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns" — Two federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron — COVID-19 "radically altered mobility" globally, UN says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Dec 31, 2020 - Health

WHO lists Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

A healthcare worker giving a patient a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in Florida on Dec. 30. Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Thursday listed Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The approval — the WHO's first for a coronavirus vaccine — may allow some countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes so they can import and administer the vaccine quicker, the WHO said.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

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