Rand Paul 'nearly certain' he's now immune to Covid-19. Medical experts aren't as certain
Posted May 6, 2020 4:05 p.m. EDT
CNN — Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the lone senator so far who has tested positive for Covid-19, is pressing forward with his business in the Capitol while not wearing a mask, asserting that it's "nearly certain" he won't get the disease again.
"Well, we know the history of science for the last 200 years has said that the norm is that when you do get an infection you develop immunity," Paul, one of the few senators not wearing a mask, told CNN on Wednesday. "I've been tested for antibodies and so I would say the likelihood that I have immunity is nearly certain."
"Absolutely," said Paul, a physician who owned his own ophthalmology practice, when asked if he was that confident he wouldn't get the disease again.
Researchers hope there will be some immunity after infection, as with many other viruses. But the question of immunity isn't settled for this new virus, and if having it once does provide immunity, it's not clear for how long. There isn't much data on reinfection yet either, and scientists say more research is needed.
The World Health Organization said on April 25 that "no study has evaluated ... whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans."
WHO added there's not "enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an 'immunity passport' or 'risk-free certificate,'" warning that people who assume that they are immune to a second infection might be ignoring important public health advice.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has said he's "willing to bet anything" that people won't get the disease again after they've been infected, but he cautioned it's still not known for sure.
In March, Paul came under fire in the Senate after he carried on his business for several days after being tested for Covid-19, including going to the Senate gym, swimming in the senators' pool and dining daily with his colleagues. Once he learned he was positive, he returned to Kentucky. Paul was sharply criticized by senators from both parties for potentially putting them at risk.
Asked on Wednesday if he should have gone into quarantine immediately once he took the test in March, Paul criticized the media for "unfair" coverage, saying he was advised by public health officials not to quarantine after he got tested. His office had said he only got tested out of an abundance of caution due to a pre-existing condition and was not experiencing any symptoms. He had attended a March 7 dinner in Louisville where two attendees later tested positive.
"I think the media was very unfair," Paul said, criticizing CNN and other news outlets. "So I was advised directly by health officials not to quarantine ... I was advised not to, I had no symptoms, I had no contact with someone (who had the disease), so I had no official indications to quarantine."
While he was recovering, Paul missed the vote to approve the sweeping $2 trillion stimulus law, the largest rescue package in American history, which was approved 96-0 in the Senate. Paul revealed on Wednesday he would have voted against the legislation.
"I've never voted for money for anything unless it were taken from another part of the budget or had a responsible means to fund it," Paul told CNN. "So, I haven't been for any of this funding."