WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) took exception to a previous statement made by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who had equated individuals who decline to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to “flat-earthers.”
The week before, Becerra had been critical of those refusing to take the jab awhile speaking at a health-policy forum sponsored by the Foundation for Healthy Kentucky, where he said that “because some flat-earthers, especially those in places of influence, choose to peddle fiction, we’re losing more of our loved ones.”
At the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on September 30, however, Paul took umbrage with Becerra – who was giving testimony that day – referencing a recent study out of Israel that found that “natural immunity” conferred by a previous infection could yield stronger immunity against the virus than currently-available vaccines.
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“Do you want to apologize to the hundred million Americans who suffered through COVID, survived, have immunity, and yet you want to hold them down and vaccinate them?” Paul asked. “Do you want to apologize for calling those people flat-earthers?”
“I appreciate that everyone has their opinion,” Becerra replied, declining to give Paul his requested apology.
Paul – who said that he is in favor or getting more people vaccinated and for reducing vaccine hesitancy – noted that Becerra is not a medical doctor, nor does he 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 that they naturally acquired is sufficient,” he said. “But you presume to tell over 100 million Americans who survived COVID, that we have no right to determine our own medical care? Quit lying to people about natural immunity. You, sir, are the one ignoring science.”
“We follow the facts and the science at HHS,” Becerra replied. “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 us results.”