(LifeSiteNews) – Former White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed concern over the weekend that Americans would not abide by new masking recommendations even as he acknowledged evidence against masks’ effectiveness for shielding against COVID.
Citing a “surge of cases” and spike in hospitalizations of up to 19%, Fauci told CNN’s Michael Smerconish, “I would hope that if in fact we get to the point where the volume of cases is such that organizations like the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention] recommend — CDC doesn’t mandate anything, I mean — recommends that people wear masks, I would hope that they abide by the recommendation and take into account the risk to themselves and to their families, and again, we’re not talking [about] forcing anybody to do anything.”
While careful to stress that “we’re not talking about mandates,” the former director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID) added that he was “concerned that people will not abide by recommendations” to wear masks in public.
At one point in the interview, Smerconish asked Fauci about a New York Times article from February about what columnist Bret Stephens called the “most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of scientific studies conducted on the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses – including COVID-19,” which quoted an Oxford epidemiologist as concluding that “[t]here is just no evidence that they make any difference. Full stop.”
Fauci acknowledged the weakness of masks to contain the pandemic, but insisted they were still valuable on an “individual basis.”
“Yes, but there are other studies, Michael, that show at an individual level, for individual, when you’re talking about the effect on the epidemic or the pandemic as a whole, the data are less strong,” he said. “But when you talk about as an individual basis of someone protecting themselves or protecting themselves from spreading it to others, there’s no doubt that there are many studies that show that there is an advantage. When you [look at] the broad population level like the Cochrane study, the data are less firm with regard to the effect on the overall pandemic. But we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about an individual’s effect on their own safety. That’s a bit different than the broad population level.”
Many viewers found the answer unimpressive, including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who dismissed it as “more subterfuge.”
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government recommended wearing face coverings in the presence of others, advice that many states and localities used to impose mask mandates on a wide range of public gatherings. But evidence has long since shown that masking was largely ineffective at limiting the spread of the virus.
Among that evidence is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) September 2020 admission that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, and a May 2020 study published by the peer-reviewed CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”
In May 2021, another study found that, though mandates were largely followed, that usage did not yield the expected benefits. “Mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.
More than 170 studies have found that masks have been ineffective at stopping COVID and instead have been harmful, especially to children.
In recent weeks, some schools, hospitals, and businesses have resumed mask mandates, citing rising cases from new COVID variants against which the government admits current vaccines may be ineffective. The news has prompted speculation as to whether a return to broader lockdowns is forthcoming. President Joe Biden has announced he is seeking funding from Congress to develop new COVID vaccines for these variants, prompting fears of new mandates and whether they will have similar problems as the shots developed under his predecessor.