Anthony Fauci, Director of US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, got into a heated argument with Republican Senator Rand Paul over COVID-19 and the use of masks by individuals who have already been infected once or have been vaccinated. 

During a Senate committee hearing, Senator Paul Rand questioned why some people still have to wear masks if they are not a risk of contracting the virus. 

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“You’re telling everyone to wear a mask. If we’re not spreading the infection, isn’t it just theatre? You have the vaccine and you’re wearing two masks, isn’t that theatre?” Rand said. 

Fauci said “Let me just state for the record, masks are not theatre.”

Arguing that there are no studies showing reports of notable reinfection among people who have already been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus, Rand said “If you already have immunity, you’re wearing a mask to give comfort to others. You’re not wearing a mask because of any science.”

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Senator Paul got infected with COVID-19 last year in March and has since refused to wear masks in the Capitol or get vaccinated claiming that he is immune to getting reinfected. 

Fauci said “I agree with you, that you very likely would have protection from wild type for at least six months if you’re infected,” but highlighted that there is no protection from some of the infectious variants, like the South African one.

“If I vaccinate you or me against the wild-type you get a certain level of antibody that’s specific for a particular viral strain. If there’s a circulating variant, you don’t necessarily have it. You have some spillover immunity to be sure, but you diminish, by anywhere from two- to eight-fold, the protection. So the point I’m saying is that there are variants now circulating,” Fauci explained. 

These variants are a “good reason for a mask,” he added. 

As per CDC guidelines, all individuals who have received both their jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine should still wear masks in gatherings, public places, and around individuals who have not been vaccinated and are at high risk of getting the infection.