Dr. Anthony Fauci said that face masks may not be effective on populations when looking at the “pandemic as a whole” but persists in his stance that people need to follow authorities’ recommendations and wear them.
In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Dr. Fauci was asked about a review published in late January at the Cochrane Library, which said there was no evidence to prove the spread of COVID-19 infection could be reduced by the use of face masks. Dr. Fauci admitted that “when you’re talking about the effect on the epidemic or the pandemic as a whole, the data are less strong.”
But he then went on to insist that when talking “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.”
Dr. Fauci was the White House chief medical advisor during the pandemic when face mask use was pushed as a way to control the spread of the infection.
In the interview, Dr. Fauci said that he was “concerned” that people will not abide by COVID-19 recommendations.
“When you have a situation where the volume of cases in society gets to a reasonably high level—particularly the vulnerable—those who are elderly and those with underlying conditions are going to be more susceptible and vulnerable If they do get infected to get severe disease leading to hospitalization.”
In case the volume of COVID-19 cases reaches a level where organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 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,” he said.
According to the Cochrane review, an analysis of 78 randomized controlled trials (RCT) “did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks.”
In addition, “there were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection,” it said.
Sensationalism of Rising COVID CasesDr. Fauci’s comments come as concerns about mandatory masking policies have emerged amid media reporting of rising COVID-19 cases.
Though data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations during recent weeks, the numbers are far less compared to prior years.
For the week ending Aug. 19, the number of new COVID-19 hospital admissions was 15,067, which is less than half the 38,156 admissions for the week ending Aug. 20, 2022, and less than a fifth of the 84,035 admissions for the week ending Aug. 21, 2021.
Some experts have slammed the sensationalizing of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. In an Aug. 24 blog post, science journalist David Zweig called out the media coverage of the COVID-19 “surge.”
“If a tiny bump in the rate of new weekly Covid hospital admissions—that still is among the lowest rates over the last three years—relates to a surge, then what is an actual large rise called?” he wrote.
“The use of this hyperbolic language by so many media outlets that over-dramatizes risk skirts very close to misinformation.”
Citizens have voiced their opposition to the re-emergence of restrictive policies. In a recent video, former President Donald Trump addressed the issue addressing “every COVID tyrant who wants to take away our freedom.”
No Evidence of Mask EffectivenessThe January 2023 Cochrane review was an update from an earlier November 2020 review.
“There is just no evidence that they (masks) make any difference. Full stop,” he said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, there were some voices who said masks did not work, and then suddenly the narrative changed.”
“Governments had bad advisors from the very beginning … They were convinced by non-randomized studies, flawed observational studies. A lot of it had to do with appearing as if they were ‘doing something.’”
Mr. Jefferson pointed out that there hasn’t been a “proper trial” of face masks where a huge, randomized study was done to check their effectiveness. Instead, some experts overnight began to perpetuate a “fear-demic.”
He disagreed with the argument that it would be unethical to do a randomized face mask study where one group of people wears the masks while others do not.
“We don’t know what effect masks will have. If we don’t know what impact they have, how can it be unethical? Strident fanatics have managed to poison this whole discussion and try and make it into a black and white thing … and rely on terribly flawed studies.”
According to the American Lung Association, TVOCs have been shown to cause irritation in the eyes, throat, and nose. It has also been linked to breathing difficulty and damage to the central nervous system and organs like the liver.
The study concluded: “Circumstantial evidence exists that extended mask use may be related to current observations of stillbirths and to reduced verbal motor and overall cognitive performance in children born during the pandemic. A need exists to reconsider mask mandates.”