Fauci says he told schools to mandate vax despite future vaccine hesitancy concerns: House chair

Fauci also acknowledged that the lab leak hypothesis is not a conspiracy theory and that the 6-feet social distancing recommendation likely wasn't based on fact.

Published: January 10, 2024 8:26am

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he advised U.S. universities to impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates on their students and he admitted that such mandates could increase future vaccine hesitancy, House Coronavirus Select Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said Wednesday following the former White House medical advisor's two-day, 14-hour transcribed interview with the panel. 

After telling the subcommittee more than 100 times on Monday that he did "not recall" the answers to different questions, during his second day of testimony on Tuesday, Fauci revealed details about federal health advisories, the origins of the virus and vaccine mandates, per Wenstrup. 

"Dr. Fauci claimed that the policies and mandates he promoted may unfortunately increase vaccine hesitancy for years to come," the Ohio Republican said in a statement recapping Tuesday's testimony from the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"When American universities approached Dr. Fauci, he advised them to impose vaccine mandates on their students," the Republican-led COVID subcommittee said. The mandates were maintained despite lawsuits and reported health concerns surrounding the vaccine, and many universities only axed their mandates in 2023, according to a regularly updated tracker from the activist group No College Mandates.

After heavily shaping a 2021 research paper claiming that COVID originated naturally, Fauci also acknowledged Tuesday that the hypothesis that the virus resulted from a lab leak is not a conspiracy theory, according to the subcommittee. 

The panel also said Fauci "played semantics with the definition of a 'lab-leak' in an attempt to cover-up the inaccurate conclusions" of "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2" paper. "It is impossible for Dr. Fauci to defend the conclusion of this publication while simultaneously acknowledging that a lab-leak is possible," the subcommittee said.

Fauci also revealed that the federal health recommendation to stay at least 6 feet apart for social distancing is unlikely to have been based on data, per Wenstrup. 

This confirms statements from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who said in March 2021 that the social distancing recommendation of 6 feet "wasn't based on clear science." Additionally, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study published in April 2021 revealed that the 6-foot rule likely did not do much to protect against COVID indoors, stating: "In such well-mixed spaces, one is no safer from airborne pathogens at 60 ft than 6 ft."

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