Dr. Peter Hotez is siding with one of the nation’s top doctors following a showdown between Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci on Capitol Hill over masks.

“Dr. Fauci is absolutely right, Senator Paul is absolutely wrong, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 14 months,” Hotez said.

Paul claimed that people are not at risk of Covid after they have recovered or have been vaccinated, and, therefore, do not need to wear masks. The Kentucky Senator also asserted that Fauci was wearing two masks simply for show.

The White House chief medical advisor emphatically pushed back against Paul’s comments Thursday during a Senate hearing examining the nation’s coronavirus response efforts.

″Can I just state for the record that masks are not theater,” Fauci said. “I totally disagree with you.”

In a Thursday evening interview on “The News with Shepard Smith” Hotez noted that eventually “masks may need to come off,” but that it’s too soon and “we’re still trying to understand the full performance characteristics of the vaccines.”

“We’re only now getting a glimmer that it interrupts asymptomatic transmission,” Hotez said.

The debate over masks comes as nearly half the country is experiencing a surge in Covid cases. Twenty-three states reported an increase in cases, as a seven-day average, over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins. Half a dozen states are also seeing hospitalizations trend higher, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, told host Shepard Smith that the spikes could be the result of highly transmissible new variants. 

“The key now is to vaccinate ahead of the variants as fast as we can,” Hotez said.

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