WASHINGTON — Misinformation about the COVID pandemic, vaccines, and everything in between was the topic of discussion between Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana and Dr. Anthony Fauci in a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Fauci is the chief medical advisor to President Biden after having served as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in the Trump Administration. He is also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Braun questioned Fauci about the rules by which social media companies, such as Facebook, “filter speech” when the pandemic is being discussed on their platforms. Facebook has said it has consulted with “leading health organizations” about how it handles misinformation being spread.
“Was your organization, the NIAID, one of the ‘leading health organizations’ that Facebook consulted with when deciding what speech to filter through,” Braun asked Dr. Fauci.
“To my knowledge, senator, that is no the case,” Fauci replied. “I don’t ever recall, or have ever heard of, any discussion about filtering speech.”
Braun pressed the discussion a bit in asking if Fauci was privy to any discussions between the White House and Facebook on how it goes about flagging posts that are deemed to carry possible misinformation. Fauci said that that was outside his wheelhouse.
“This is beyond my area of expertise,” Fauci said. “I develop vaccines to save people’s lives. I don’t get involved in flagging things, senator, so I’m sorry.”
Sen. Braun then turned the discussion to vaccines and asked both Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, about vaccine mandates in schools.
“Would you be for mandating, ever, a vaccine for COVID-19 or any of the variants as mandatory for getting into grade school,” Braun asked Walensky.
“I think first we need to see the data so I think that’s premature at this point,” Walensky said.
Walensky added that there is currently no usable data on the effectiveness of any of the vaccines on young grade school-age children and that no decision should be made on vaccine mandates in schools until that data comes to light. Fauci concurred with Walensky on that front.
This hearing was the same hearing in which Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul got into an argument with Dr. Fauci after Paul accused Fauci of lying to the American people about the pandemic. Fauci retorted saying that he’s never lied to the American people and told Paul “you don’t know what you’re talking about” in regards to the pandemic.