CNN confronted former top Covid doctor Anthony Fauci with an article published at the New York Times citing a major study that showed masks “don’t work” to stop the spread of an airborne virus like Covid-19. “Full stop.”
In the interview, CNN host Michael Smerconish gets Fauci to begrudgingly concede that masks don’t stop transmission at the population level, which was the justification that was used by “public health officials” to implement mask mandates.
“I would hope that if in fact we get to the point where the volume of cases is such, and organizations like the CDC 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,” Fauci said. “And again, we’re not talking about forcing anybody to do anything.”
“Totally understood,” Smerconish replied. “There is a perception out there by many, how many I don’t know, that they don’t work and that the data concludes that they didn’t work in the first go- round. Respond to that on masks.”
“Yeah,” Fauci said. “Well, that’s not so, I mean, when you’re talking about at the population level that the data are less strong than knowing that if you look on a situation as an individual protecting themselves or protecting them from spreading it, there’s no doubt that masks work. Different studies give different percentages of advantage of wearing it, but there’s no doubt that the weight of the studies, and there have been many studies indicate the benefit of wearing masks.”
“I’m going to refer to one of them,” Smerconish said. “You’ve heard about it before. I heard about it from a number of radio callers. Brett Stephens in the Times talked about Cochrane, put that on the screen. The most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of scientific studies conducted on the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illness, including Covid-19 was published last month. Its conclusions, said Tom Jefferson, the Oxford epidemiologist, who is the lead author, were unambiguous. ‘There is just no evidence that they, masks, make any difference.’ He told the journalist, Maryanne Demasi, ‘full stop.’ ‘But wait, hold on. What about the N95 masks as opposed to the lower quality surgical or cloth masks? Makes no difference. None of it.’ He said, ‘well, what about the studies that initially persuaded policymakers to impose mask mandates? They were convinced by non-randomized studies, flawed observational studies.’ How do we get beyond that finding of that particular review?”
“Yeah, 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,” Fauci conceded. “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 took 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.”
In other words, Fauci is conceding what critics of the mask mandates have said all along: Masks do not stop Covid transmission in a population over any significant duration of time. They may help an individual in certain contexts avoid a virus on a given occasion but even religious wearing of masks is not going to stop an individual from exposure to the virus over the long-term.
As the editorialist Bret Stephens put it in the New York Times:
No study — or study of studies — is ever perfect. Science is never absolutely settled. What’s more, the analysis does not prove that proper masks, properly worn, had no benefit at an individual level. People may have good personal reasons to wear masks, and they may have the discipline to wear them consistently. Their choices are their own.
But when it comes to the population-level benefits of masking, the verdict is in: Mask mandates were a bust. Those skeptics who were furiously mocked as cranks and occasionally censored as “misinformers” for opposing mandates were right. The mainstream experts and pundits who supported mandates were wrong. In a better world, it would behoove the latter group to acknowledge their error, along with its considerable physical, psychological, pedagogical and political costs.
There you have it. The so-called “Experts” are ignoring the scientific data that does not justify their implementation of mask mandates. Their motivation is up for questioning, but one thing that is beyond questioning is that mask mandates are tremendously damaging to public trust while providing no significant public health benefit in the long-term.
As the Brownstone Institute put it while citing over 170 studies that show masks don’t work for stopping airborne transmission of viruses, “It is not unreasonable to conclude that surgical and cloth masks, used as they currently are being used (without other forms of PPE protection), have no impact on controlling the transmission of Covid-19 virus. Current evidence implies that face masks can be actually harmful. The body of evidence indicates that face masks are largely ineffective.”
Dr. Fauci himself actually got it right early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, before flip-flopping to support the damaging and futile mask mandates.
“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 admitted to a government official. “It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep[ing] 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 very low risk location.”
If Fauci had remained consistent throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with this advice, then there wouldn’t be a collapse of trust in the public health field regarding its policy recommendations on masks.