Dr. Anthony Fauci reportedly described mask wearing as “not really effective” in a February 5, 2020, email to Sylvia Burwell, President of American University and former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary.
“The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material,” he wrote:
Fauci says in released emails to a professor of medicine, masks “are not really effective.” pic.twitter.com/v4OnP6HC7f
— Wendell Husebø (@WendellHusebo) June 2, 2021
Fauci replied in full to the email:
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 infections. The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a vey [sic] low risk location. Your instincts are correct, money is best spent on medical countermeasures such as diagnostics and vaccines.
In a 60 Minutes interview from March 8, 2020, Fauci said, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.
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“And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face,” he continued.
CNN later reported Fauci changed his mind; that it was a mistake to not recommend people to wear masks:
We were not aware that 40 to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask.”
So when people say, ‘Well, why did you change your stance? And why are you emphasizing masks so much now when back then you didn’t — and in fact you even said you shouldn’t because there was a shortage of masks?’ Well the data now are very, very clear.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention most recently updated their guidelines May 7:
— Wendell Husebø (@WendellHusebo) May 13, 2021
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