Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb commented on the heated mask debate between Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci and Republican Sen. Rand Paul, noting “both made valid points.” What Paul Argues: During a U.S. Senate hearing on Thursday, Paul accused Fauci of parading “around in two masks for show.” The Republican Senator from Kentucky argued multiple scientific studies conclude the odds of someone who is fully vaccinated or has fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection catching the virus again is “virtually” zero. Fauci himself is fully vaccinated. “There’s virtually 0% chance you’re going to get it and you’re telling people that have had the vaccine who have immunity — you’re defying everything we know about immunity by telling people to wear masks who have been vaccinated,” CNBC quoted Paul as saying. Paul further notes that continued mask mandates even after vaccination are contributing to vaccine skepticism. “You want people to get the vaccine? Give them a reward, instead of telling them that the nanny state’s going to be there for three more years and you’ve got to wear a mask forever. People don’t want to hear it, and there’s no science behind it,” he said. Related Link: Ex-FDA Commissioner Gottlieb On COVID-19: ‘Things Will Be Normal In The Spring And Summer’ Fauci’s Argument: Fauci said that masks are required because of the emergence of new variants that are known to evade some of the vaccines, particularly the one manufactured by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). “In the South African study conducted by [Johnson & Johnson], they found that people who were infected with wild type and were exposed to the variant in South Africa, the 351, it was as if they had never been infected before, they had no protection,” Fauci said. The CDC said in revised guidelines in March that fully vaccinated individuals can safely meet with others indoors without masks or social distancing. The guidelines also note that fully vaccinated individuals (with few exceptions) who are potentially exposed to the virus do not need to be isolated unless they start to show symptoms. Gottlieb: April And May Will Look Different: By many measures, March was supposed to be a “difficult month” but as the vaccine campaign continues uninterrupted, April and May will “look much more clear.” Within a few weeks, it could be “obvious” that masks may be safely removed, Gottlieb, a Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) board member said. “Right now it is not quite as obvious,” he said. Regardless, people will choose if they want to wear a mask or not, particularly in indoor settings. ‘Not Worried’ About U.K. Variant: The B.1.1.7 variant, commonly referred to as the U.K. variant, is not contributing to a surge of infection despite its status as a variant of concern, Gottlieb said. “You are not seeing a sharp uptick like we expected which is an indication that the prior immunity that we have combined with vaccination is enough to quell B.1.1.7,” he said. The new variant called B.1.526 discovered in New York is a “cause of concern” while an uptick in Michigan might be a function of slower vaccination progress, he said. Looking forward to the post-summer months, it is possible that the virus’ momentum picks up again and some of the mitigation initiatives removed in the summer months could be put back into place. (Photo: Sen. Rand Paul/Courtesy of his office; Dr. Anthony Fauci, photo by Andrea Hanks/The White House) See more from BenzingaClick here for options trades from BenzingaExclusive: Cohen & Company’s Daniel Cohen Talks eToro Deal, Peak SPAC Mania, MoreJPMorgan’s Beverage Pair Trade: Buy Keurig Dr Pepper, Sell Molson Coors© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.