The Chief Medical Officer of the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged Republican Senator Rand Paul back on Thursday that people are not at risk for Covid after their recovery or vaccination.

In a fiery exchange during a Senate hearing examining the country’s efforts to respond to coronavirus, Paul told Fauci that Americans should not wear masks after vaccination due to the likelihood of getting Covid-19 is “practically 0%”.

“Isn’t it just theater?” The Kentucky junior senator, an ophthalmologist, asked during a hearing on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

“You’ve been vaccinated and you hit around in two masks for the show. You can’t get it back,” Paul said. “There’s practically a 0% chance you’ll get it, and you tell people who had the vaccine have immunity – you defy everything we know about immunity by telling people they are wearing vaccinated masks should.”

In response, Fauci said: “Here we go again with the theater.”

“”All I can say is that masks are no theater, “said Fauci.” I totally disagree with you. “

The emergence of new, highly contagious variants poses a threat to people who have recovered from Covid or have been vaccinated, he said.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on the federal response to the coronavirus March 18, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Susan Walsh | Pool | Getty Images

It has been shown that new variants, especially the strain B.1.351 identified for the first time in South Africa, escape the protection of vaccines.

“In the South African study of [Johnson & Johnson]They found that people who were wild-type infected and exposed to variant 351 in South Africa felt like they had never been infected before, they had no protection, “Fauci said.

Fauci agreed that it was unlikely that anyone would become infected with the original strain for at least six months. “But we in our country now have variants.”

The exchange took place a little over a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines that those who are fully vaccinated can safely visit other vaccinated people indoors without a mask or social distance.

However, the CDC also recommended that vaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks in public settings, when meeting with unvaccinated individuals from more than one different household, and with individuals at increased risk of developing serious illnesses.

While growing body of evidence suggests that people vaccinated against Covid are less likely to spread the disease to others, it is still not known how long a person’s protection could last or how effective the shots are against emerging variants said the CDC on March 8th.