Fact check: Rand Paul falsely claims COVID-19 vaccine doesn't work against variants

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also claimed that 'Big Pharma' is holding back newer vaccines against variants.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Monday falsely claimed that current vaccines against COVID-19 do not work on variants of the coronavirus and alleged that "Big Pharma" had a more effective vaccine "sitting on the shelf."

Paul made the allegation during an appearance on Newsmax's "Spicer & Co.," hosted by former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Responding to Spicer's questioning about "a lot of big pharmaceutical companies making a lot of money, that have a lot to gain by, sort of, say, Let's have another booster and let's have more people have to get vaccinated," Paul said, "Why doesn't Joe Biden speed up the second vaccine? I think we're long overdue on the second vaccine ... They have the ability to create these vaccines within a month or two. The one for the delta variant's been sitting on the shelf now for months. Why aren't they using it? 'Cause the thing is, is Big Pharma or is a monetary incentive — have we already bought so much of the old vaccine that we've got to use up the old vaccine before we use the new vaccine?"

Paul's assertion is completely false.

The available COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be effective against the virus and previously discovered variants. And Paul presented no evidence that pharmaceutical companies are holding back other vaccines.

A study released in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that as the delta variant spread during the summer, the vast majority of those who became infected with it were unvaccinated. NBC reported that the vaccine "remained highly effective" in preventing hospitalization in people under 65.

Former acting CDC Director Dr. Richard Besser told NBC, "These vaccines still remain extremely effective at preventing what we are most concerned about: severe infection, hospitalization and death."

Multiple studies from across the world have found similar results, showing that the vaccine is effective against the alpha, beta, and delta variants.

On its website, the CDC notes, "The COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant."

Scientists at the major vaccine makers are currently assessing the effectiveness of the vaccines against the omicron variant.

Paul, an ophthalmologist and not an expert in infectious diseases who has frequently promoted misinformation and made false allegations about the pandemic, tested positive for the coronavirus in March 2020. He is one of two Republican senators up for reelection in 2022 who have not been vaccinated against it; the other, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, has not confirmed whether he will run next year.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.