Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) grilled Dr. Anthony Fauci on the effectiveness of government lockdowns and the shutting down of the U.S. economy at a Senate hearing Wednesday on the coronavirus. While there are still many things we need to learn about this pandemic, it’s important that ‘we the people’ not simply acquiesce to authoritarian mandates on our behavior without first making the Nanny State prove their hypothesis, said Dr. Paul. “Is man really capable of altering the course of an infectious disease through crowd control?” Paul asked. “The statistics argue a resounding no. The evidence argues that mitigation efforts have failed to flatten the curve, that most countries, regardless of public health policy suffered a significant spike in deaths and then a gradual decline.” “Are you willing to look at the data that countries that did very little actually have a lower death rate in the United States?” Paul asked.
SEN. RAND PAUL: Initially, government officials were honest enough to admit that the goal of mitigation efforts, aka, lockdown was to flatten the curve, but the area under the curve, the total deaths from the virus would likely be the same. In other words, the lockdown was to mitigate the spike in viral deaths so our hospitals would not be overwhelmed, but the same amount of people would likely die with or without the lockdown. The media, and frankly, government officials seem to have forgotten this important caveat. Flattening the curve, morphed into a belief that we could change the course of the pandemic with an economic lockdown. This is unfortunate and has led to the protracted lockdown recession we are currently mired in. It’s important that we examine the data, learn from the data and try to avoid the man-made aspect of this calamity in the future. To those who argue that the lockdown flattened the curve in New York and New Jersey, the evidence argues otherwise. New York and New Jersey wound up with a sharpest spike or highest death rate in the world, at over 1700 deaths per million. In contrast, Sweden had a relatively softer touch, few mandates and mostly voluntary guidelines. Sweden’s death rate ended up about a third that of New York and New Jersey. Some might argue that Sweden and New York and New Jersey are different populations. Perhaps, but even the average death rate for the US is now greater than Sweden. In fact, the US death rate is quite comparable to less-developed parts of the world, where social distancing is virtually impossible, such as Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador. Which brings us to an important question. Is man really capable of altering the course of an infectious disease through crowd control? The statistics argue a resounding no. The evidence argues that mitigation efforts have failed to flatten the curve, that most countries, regardless of public health policy suffered a significant spike in deaths and then a gradual decline. Now some will argue, what about Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, each which have had extraordinarily low death rates. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea certainly enforced stricter quarantine and contact tracing rules than the US. But Japan’s rules were largely voluntary since their Prime Minister lacks the legal powers to enforce a lockdown. One explanation for the low death rate in much of Asia, is that the population may have a higher degree of exposure to coronavirus colds, and therefore have more preexisting cross-reactive immunity. If scientists were interested, there is a fascinating field of inquiry looking at susceptibility to COVID-19 and assessment of whether people or not have pre-existing immunity to similar coronaviruses. In fact, the pre-existing cross-reactive immunity to coronavirus may explain why we have so many people that have very little symptoms or asymptomatic. While there are still many things we need to learn about this pandemic, it’s important that we, the people not simply acquiesced authoritarian mandates on our behavior without first making the nanny state prove their hypothesis. As for now, what we do know is that New York and New Jersey and Connecticut and Rhode Island still allow the highest death rates in the world. We also know that Sweden, who enforced few mandates, ended up with a death rate one-third of New York and New Jersey. We also know that the overall death rate for the US now, is essentially equivalent to that of South America, where social distancing and mitigation efforts are virtually impossible. Dr. Fauci, today, you said you are not for economic lockdown yet. Your mitigation recommendations from dating, to baseball to restaurants, to movie theaters, have led to this economic lockdown. Do you have any second thoughts about your mitigation recommendations considering the evidence, that despite all of the things we’ve done in the US, our death rate is essentially worse than Sweden, equivalent to the less-developed world that is unable to do any of the things that you’ve been promoting. Do you have any second thoughts? Are you willing to look at the data that countries that — any second thoughts, are you willing to look at the data that countries that did very little actually have a lower death rate in the United States? DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, Senator, I’d be happy at a different time to sit down and go over detail. You’ve said a lot of different things. You’ve compared us to Sweden and there are a lot of differences. And you said, Well, there are a lot of differences between Sweden. But compare Sweden’s death rate to other comparable Scandinavian countries, it’s worse. So I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare Sweden with us. Yes, I think in the beginning, we’ve done things based on the knowledge we had at the time and hopefully, and I am, and my colleagues are humble enough and modest enough to realize that as new data comes, you make different recommendations. But I don’t regret saying that the only way we could have really stopped the explosion of infection was by essentially, I want to say shutting down- PAUL: 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. Or they’ve developed enough community immunity that they’re no longer having the pandemic because they have enough immunity in New York City to actually stop it. FAUCI: I challenge that Senator. Please, sir, I would like to be able to do this because this happens with Senator Rand all the time. You were not listening to what the director of the C.D.C. said, that in New York, it’s about 22%. If you believe 22% is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that. PAUL: There’s also the preexisting immunity of those who have cross-reactivity, which is about a third of the public in many estimates studies which would actually get — FAUCI: I’d like to talk to you about that also because there was a study that recently came out that preexisting immunity to coronaviruses that are common cold do not cross react with the COVID-19.