Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed Americans to mask up even when he knew masks weren’t very effective. In a batch of emails recovered and published by Buzzfeed News and the Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act this week, Fauci confidently responded to inquiries that wearing a mask wasn’t necessarily effective at stopping the spread of the new virus.
“Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” he replied to Sylvia Burwell, possibly the same woman who served as former President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary, on Feb. 5, 2020. “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you.”
Fauci’s final recommendation for Burwell was not to wear a mask “particularly since you are going to a very low-risk location.”
The White House Coronavirus Task Force member continued to warn the public against wearing a mask and even said “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” on March 8, 2020, but by the end of the month, he changed his tune. Despite acknowledging that the masks available to most Americans only offered a “slight benefit” to users, it wasn’t long before Fauci began to push for widespread masking.
“The idea of getting a much more broad, community-wide use of masks outside of the health care setting is under very active discussion at the task force. The CDC group is looking at that very carefully,” Fauci told CNN on March 31, 2020.
Unlike the way he portrayed the non-efficacy of masking in the email to Burwell, Fauci later pushed for widespread masking under the guise of accidental asymptomatic transmission — a phenomenon that studies and even the World Health Organization’s technical lead have said is “very rare.”
“Because if, in fact, a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting someone else, one of the best ways to do that is with a mask. So perhaps that’s the way to go,” Fauci continued to CNN.
Fauci carried this masking narrative for more than a year, even encouraging people to begin wearing layers of masks because it is just “common sense.”
Fauci knows and has even admitted that science doesn’t drive the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decisions, but that hasn’t stopped him from repeatedly engaging in political theater by masking beyond what the health agency recommends and even after he received both doses of his COVID-19 vaccine.