Rand Paul Spars With Fauci Over Money Tied to Vaccines

The nation's leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci had to testify remotely this week due to his recent COVID diagnosis, but the virus didn't stop Fauci from his usual sparring with Senator Rand Paul, who went off on the doctor about the federal agency's financial disclosures.

Testifying in isolation on Thursday, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, answered questions from senators about the ongoing federal pandemic response, re-emphasizing that "our current vaccines have maintained their effectiveness for preventing severe COVID-19."

During Paul's turn, the Kentucky Republican berated Fauci, asking the 81-year-old if he could say that he has "not received a royalty from any entity that [he] ever oversaw the distribution of money and research grants."

Speaking over the doctor as he tried to respond to the senator, Paul insisted it wasn't just about Fauci's financial disclosures but every employee of the National Health Institute.

"Everybody on the vaccine committee—have any of them ever received money from the people who make vaccines? Can you tell me that? Can you tell me if anybody on the vaccine approval committees ever received any money from the people who make the vaccines?" Paul demanded.

"Sound bite number one—Are you going to let me answer a question?" Fauci said trying to break through a number of interruptions from Paul.

Fauci Rand Paul Spar
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator Rand Paul sparred again during Thursday's Senate hearing. On the left, Fauci virtually attends the COVID Federal Response Hearing on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. On the right, Paul is pictured questioning Fauci during the hearing. Joe Raedle/Greg Nash/AFP

"Let me give you some information," Fauci began. "First of all, according to the regulations, people who receive royalties are not required to divulge them even on their financial statement according to the by Bayh Dole Act," referring to a law that grants people the ability to own inventions arriving from federal government-funded research.

Fauci said that between 2015 and 2020, the only royalties he had were on the monoclonal antibodies that his lab created.

"During that period of time, my royalties ranged from $21 a year to $7,700 a year and the average per year was $191.46," Fauci testified.

As Paul continued his line of questioning, committee chair Senator Patty Murray cut him off, telling him, "Senator Paul, your time has long over-expired."

"I gave you an additional two-and-a-half minutes. The witness has responded, we are going to move on," she said.

On Thursday, Fauci and Paul also got into a heated back-and-forth over booster shots, with the senator asking whether there was direct scientific evidence that additional doses prevent hospitalization and death in those aged 5 and up.

"If I give a patient 10 mRNA vaccines and they... make antibodies each time, is that proof we should give 10 boosters, Dr. Fauci?" Paul asked.

"I think that is somewhat of an absurd exaggeration," the doctor replied.

The two have been known to clash during Senate hearings. In the past, they have quarreled over Wuhan lab lead theories and funding for gain-of-function research.