Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has failed to follow the science for much of the pandemic, on Wednesday called Omicron, the Covid-19 variant responsible for record-setting number of positive cases, “nature’s vaccine” during an interview with Fox & Friends.
“We’ve got 150 million people in our country that have already had this,” he said. “Now in the last couple of weeks, we’re adding millions of people every week who have already gotten this. And the one thing we know is if you get this mild variant, the Omicron, it’s actually going to protect you against the more serious variants.”
“This is basically nature’s vaccine that is running through the community,” he added, echoing comments made on the network last month by Dr. Nicole Saphier, a radiologist, who advocated for letting omicron “circulate.”
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) January 5, 2022
Paul noted that letting Omicron run wild doesn’t mean “some of the vulnerable people may not suffer and die from this,” and that “we should be trying to protect the vulnerable.” The primary way to protect the vulnerable, though, is to get them vaccinated, and Paul has opposed mandates and said he will not even get vaccinated himself.
Paul claimed on Wednesday that “the majority of the people in the hospital right now are vaccinated,” despite the fact that recent Centers for Disease Control data shows that the risk of hospitalization skyrockets when those who test positive are unvaccinated.
These graphs never fail to astonish.
The COVID hospitalization risk is MORE THAN 10X higher for the unvaccinated—at every. single. age. level. pic.twitter.com/ELUz5Heqmj
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) January 3, 2022
Paul did not specify where he got the idea that 150 Americans have tested positive, a key part of his argument that the U.S. should just go ahead and let Omicron spread. U.S. cases since January 2020 total approximately 56 million, according to the CDC. The number includes all positive cases, not the number of people infected, as some have caught the virus more than once.
Letting Omicron spread like the variants before it could also lead to a new variant that might be able to evade Omicron immunity, even if getting it does provide some protection against older variants. “The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and the more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant,” World Health Organization Senior Emergencies Officer Catherine Smallwood told AFP in an interview on Tuesday. “Now, Omicron is lethal, it can cause death … maybe a little bit less than Delta, but who’s to say what the next variant might throw out.”
Omicron is now responsible for more than 95 percent of U.S. cases, according to the CDC.
Paul’s latest pseudoscience argument should come as no surprise, as the senator has been a notorious spreader of Covid falsehoods throughout the pandemic. This past summer, he was suspended from YouTube for Covid misinformation, prompting him to announce earlier this week that he is moving to Rumble, a video-hosting site favored by the far-right that bills itself as a free-speech haven. Paul will likely be able to spread all the Covid misinformation on the platform, but who needs Rumble when you have Fox News, whose anchors will uncritically nod along as the senator lies about the virus that has killed over 800,000 Americans.