May 11, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested over the weekend that masking could become a permanent seasonal facet of American life, despite mounting evidence that mask mandates did little to contain the virus.
“We’ve had practically a non-existent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against COVID-19,” Fauci told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on Sunday, the New York Post reports. “So it is conceivable that as we go on, a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory-borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory-borne diseases.”
Some doctors have expressed concern about historically-low flu rates being more a function of flu cases being categorized as COVID cases, due in part to financial incentives to report higher COVID numbers and partly to the similarities between flu and COVID symptoms. Regardless, the available evidence suggests that masks played a relatively small role, if any, in reducing the virus’s spread.
Early in 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams counseled against wearing masks. But the public later learned that health officials actually wanted to discourage the general public from buying masks to conserve the supply for health workers.
Despite the popular insistence that masking is essential outside one’s home, there remain reasons to doubt their effectiveness, such as the CDC’s September acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out the coronavirus when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed 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.”
Fauci’s own record displays inconsistencies on masking as well as other aspects of the pandemic. In February 2020 he said there was “absolutely no reason whatsoever to wear a mask” in the United States; by July he was suggesting that Americans wear not only masks but goggles and face shields. Critics have also faulted him for floating the idea of requiring Americans to carry “certificates” documenting their immunity to COVID-19 and suggesting that handshaking should be abolished but sex with strangers remains alright if “you’re willing to take a risk.”
Most recently, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) confronted Fauci during a Tuesday Senate hearing over the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) role in funding “gain-of-function” research — which involves intentionally strengthening viruses to better study their potential effects — at the Wuhan Institute of Virology which could have given birth to COVID-19.
Fauci denied that his department, the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID), funded any such research; in fact, Paul cited the NIAID’s grant to the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance “to study bat-based coronaviruses in China” including at the Wuhan lab was “gain-of-function,” which in turn funded the Wuhan research.
“There was research done with Dr. Shi and Dr. Baric,” Paul explained. “They have collaborated on gain-of-function research where they enhanced the SARS virus to infect human airway cells and they did it by merging a new spike protein on it. That is gain-of-function. That was joint research between the Wuhan Institute and Dr. Baric. You can’t deny it.”