National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins admitted on Tuesday that masking recommendations are based on anecdotes and not scientific data.
“I wish we had that data. But Hugh, I don’t think you’re hearing me. It’s not just about that,” Collins said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
When host Hugh Hewitt pointed out that “based on that fear, we are accepting known substantial costs and deficits which will be lifelong in the classroom,” Collins merely reiterated his inclination to agree with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, who was on the same show last week and repeated the mask rhetoric.
“But that’s the false choice, doctor,” Hewitt said.
“I don’t think so,” Collins replied, before admitting that there is not any data “showing that those kids are at greater risk of hospitalization or illness of serious sort from taking their mask off there.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status” purportedly to ensure a return to classrooms. While Collins admits that younger people contracting COVID-19 is “rare,” he said kids must wear masks in school or risk another virtual school year.
“It is still pretty rare, but it is not zero, and we now have more than 400 kids that have died of this. So we have to think about that,” Collins said. “But also, think about what’s going on in that classroom for two other reasons. Even if kids are not going to get that sick, they can certainly get infected. They don’t transmit quite as vigorously as older people, but they can transmit it. Lots of evidence of that. So if we’re trying to tamp down the spread, here’s one more place to do so.”
“We’ve got to get kids back in the classroom,” Collins continued. “This virtual learning for the last year has been really bad for their development. But if they’re unmasked in the classroom, you know what’s going to happen. There’s going to be an outbreak. That’s already happening in states that don’t require masks. And then what happens? The kids go back home again. That’s a bad outcome.”
Collins claimed the CDC “really hates to have to make recommendations based on anecdotes,” but justified its actions by saying they are “rigorous public health scientists.”
“This is a tough time. Give the guys a little bit of a break there,” Collins said. “They’re trying to manage the worst pandemic in 103 years that is moving so rapidly, and delta has blown everything up that we thought we knew about COVID-19, and we sort of have to start all over again with new data. And we’ve only really had this one for about the last, oh, month and a half.”
In a statement reminiscent of Fauci’s anti-freedom rant last week, Collins also said, “I do think there are times where freedom has to be considered in the space of what that means for others around you.”