A top U.S. medical adviser during the Trump and Biden administrations told a woman in early 2020 that masks one buys from drug stores had little effectiveness against the virus that causes COVID-19.
“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,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the woman in an email dated Feb. 5, 2020.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Fauci also told the woman, Sylvia Burwell, that 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.”
“I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a ve[r]y low risk location. Your instincts are correct, money is best spent on medical countermeasures such as diagnostics and vaccines,” he added.
The email was one of the thousands obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by BuzzFeed News. The outlet published the emails online. Fauci’s agency did not respond to a request for comment.
Other messages also dealt with masks.
Also in February 2020, Fauci told a Greek reporter that “the vast majority of people outside of China do not need to wear a mask,” adding, “A mask is more appropriate for someone who is infected than for people trying to protect against infection.”
In several emails, Fauci indicated that healthcare workers should wear N95 masks, which are much better than regular masks.
“Transmission is similar to influenza: respiratory droplets and likely a bit more as aerosol than with influenza. People can transmit even when they are asymptomatic,” he told Robert Geller, vice president at the FHN Family Healthcare Center in Illinois, on March 1.
However, as late as April 16, he told a hospital that they should not require workers to don masks.
“I would keep the policy ‘voluntary’ but I would ‘encourage’ employees to wear them,” he said.
About two weeks earlier, he told somebody else that “perhaps universal wearing of masks [is] the most practical way to go.”
On April 3, Fauci and other federal officials reversed earlier guidance and recommended the general public wear masks whenever leaving their homes.
They said the change was because of new research that indicated a significant portion of COVID-19 patients did not have symptoms but could still spread the CCP virus.
Fauci later said he told Americans not to wear masks in general in early 2020 because there was a lack of supply at the time.
“We were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply,” he told The Street.
“And we wanted to make sure that the people namely, the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected.”
Fauci earlier this year defended comments he made in March 2020, including telling Americans they “should not be walking around wearing a mask.” He said officials were told that there was a mask shortage and “if we went around recommending masks, the health care providers putting themselves in harm’s way every single day would not have enough.”
The emails have triggered fresh criticism of Fauci, a prominent member of former President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and one of President Joe Biden’s top medical advisers.
Some officials have called for Fauci to be investigated over his agency’s funding of a Chinese laboratory that is situated near where COVID-19 was first identified. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Fauci should be fired over what was shown in the messages.
A watchdog group, meanwhile, is seeking more emails from Fauci in the wake of the release.