Ron Paul, the physician and former Texas congressman who launched two unsuccessful Republican presidential campaigns, has pushed unfounded conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus — as well as a leading infectious disease expert — amid the pandemic.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus response task force, wants to have “total control” of the American people, Mr Paul claimed during Thursday’s airing of his programme, titled Ron Paul Liberty Report.
He went on to suggest the coronavirus pandemic was “an excuse to have total control over the people” while calling on Donald Trump to fire Dr Fauci from the head of the US institute and White House task force.
“As this one goes away, they’ll come up with another one,” the former congressman said about the novel virus. “It’s an excuse to have total control over the people.”
“People have to quit listening” to Dr Fauci, he continued. Mr Paul later shared a clip of the show to Twitter, writing: “Fauci should be fired. If not by Trump, then by the American people.”
Dr Fauci’s public facing position on the White House task force has earned him high approval ratings across the country, according to national surveys, as well as criticism from right-wing corners of the web and conservative media.
The doctor reportedly began receiving a security detail amid death threats that began surfacing online shortly after his participation in the daily White House press briefings. The security detail was ordered by US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, according to Politico.
Mr Paul seemingly added fuel to the fire that has been stoked in recent weeks against the doctor, with the left-leaning Media Matters reporting a rise in pro-Trump media outlets attacking Dr Fauci in late March.
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host who the president awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his last State of the Union Address, attacked Dr Fauci and other disease experts working on the administration’s response as “Hillary Clinton sympathisers” earlier this week.
“It’s just, we’ve got all of these Hillary Clinton sympathisers still in the medical expert team here,” he said on his programme, The Rush Limbaugh Show. “We know that one thing has not changed, and that is these people’s desire, above everything else, to get rid of Donald Trump.”
Dr Fauci, who has remained even-keeled in his public comments about rumours of tension between he and the president and other reports of palace intrigue, has dismissed questions about his own safety during media interviews.
“I’ve chosen this life,” the doctor told NBC’s Today Show. “I know what it is.”
The incendiary attacks come as the nation confirms nearly 500,000 cases of coronavirus and almost 17,000 deaths since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in the US on 20 January.
Mr Trump has extended White House guidelines advising social distancing and self-isolation measures for an additional 30 days — crediting his discussions with the country’s health experts, like Dr Fauci — in an attempt to “flatten the curve” and keep hospital systems within their capacity.
Health officials have said such stringent measures, like closing up restaurants and businesses to millions of Americans, are necessary in order to prevent millions of deaths. Even with the current guidelines, Dr Fauci and other experts predict the US could see as many as 100,000 to 240,000 deaths resulting from the pandemic.