Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) grilled Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Thursday, questioning the secretary for recently mocking coronavirus survivors — who have natural immunity — as “flat-earthers” for choosing not to get the vaccine.
Paul asked Becerra if he was familiar with an Israeli study involving 2.5 million patients, which found that the vaccinated group was “actually seven times more likely to get infected with COVID than the people who had gotten COVID naturally.”
Becerra admitted he was unfamiliar with the study, prompting Paul to press further, as Becerra recently mocked coronavirus survivors who refuse to get the vaccine because of their own natural immunity as “flat-earthers” who “choose to peddle fiction”
“Flat earthers — meet delta,” Becerra said during a September 21 online forum by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, writes the Courier-Journal.
Paul said, blasting Becerra for choosing to travel the country and call those people “flat earthers.”:
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 have had COVID, recovered, look at a study with 2.5 million people, and say, well, you know what, it looks like my immunity is as good as a vaccine or not. In a free country, maybe ought to be able to make that decision.
“We find that very insulting. It goes against the science. Are you a doctor or a medical doctor?” Paul asked.
“I’ve worked over 30 years on heath policy,” Becerra said.
Paul quipped, criticizing the health secretary for telling over 100 million Americans “who have survived COVID that we have no right to determine our own medical care.”:
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.
“You alone are on high and you’ve made these decisions. A lawyer with no scientific background, no medical degree,” Paul said, describing Becerra’s mentality as “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 a 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 want more people to choose vaccination? So do I. You want to lessen vaccine hesitancy? So do I. You want to have that happen? Quit 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. Most of all, try understanding there is no more basic medical right than deciding what we inject into our bodies.
However, when asked if he would like to apologize for insulting those people, Becerra refused.
“Senator, I appreciate your question. And I appreciate that everyone has their opinion. We follow the fact and the designs at HHS,” he responded, failing to offer an apology.
“We use the expertise of the medical professionals, the scientists at HHS, to make decisions. It’s a team effort. And we rely on what is on the ground, showing as results,” he added.
Again, Paul noted that HHS has seemingly ignored dozens of studies on natural immunity and concluded that Becerra is “selectively doing this because you want us to submit to your will.”
“You have no scientific background, no scientific degrees, yet you aren’t really concerned about 100 million Americans who have had the disease, you just want to tell us, ‘Do as you’re told,'” the Kentucky Republican said:
That’s what you’re telling us, you’re going to tell us if I have 100 employees you’re going to put me out of business with a $700,000 fine if I don’t obey what you think is the science. Don’t you understand that it’s presumptuous for you to be in charge of all the science? Have you ever heard of a second opinion? I can’t go to my doctor and ask my doctor’s opinion? I mean, this is incredibly arrogant combined with this or authoritarian nature that you just think we’ll just tell all of America do what we say and if not we’ll fine them or put them in jail or not go to school or not travel. The science is against you on this.
Again, Becerra refused to apologize and claimed that his team has “reviewed every study that’s out there on COVID.”
“They have used facts that have been provided through the rigorous research that’s been done to reach conclusions,” he said, claiming they are “using the facts” and “following the science and following the law.”
Paul added, noting how insulting the mentality is to doctors and nurses who took care of coronavirus patients last year prior to a vaccine:
But you are completely ignoring the science on natural immunity, so is Fauci, so is the whole group, you’re ignoring it because you want submission, you want everybody to submit to your will, do as you’re told, despite the large pod of scientific evidence that says naturally acquired immunity does work.
“There was no vaccine for a year and a half. They risked their lives, they got it, survived, and now people like you are arrogant enough to say you can no longer work in the hospital because you’ve already had the disease. We’re going to force you to take a vaccine that the science does not prove is better than naturally acquired,” Paul said, adding, “That’s an arrogance that should be chastened.”