In an interview with CNN's Michael Smerconish, Fauci said that there are studies that "show at an individual level, for individuals, they might be protective," but "when you're talking about the effect on the epidemic or the pandemic as a whole, the data are less strong."
Fauci was asked to respond to a New York Times article where Oxford Senior Associate Tutor and epidemiologist Tom Jefferson said, "The most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of scientific studies conducted on the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses - including COVID-19 - was published last month." The study concluded, "There is just no evidence that [masks] make any difference."
The cited article noted that Jefferson said the type of mask "makes no difference." He noted that people who pushed initial mask guidance "were convinced by nonrandomized studies, flawed observational studies."
It has previously been revealed through 2021 FOIA requests that Fauci knew that masks were not effective in preventing the infection, but later suggested mask mandates anyway. In one email, in response to former Obama Administration Secretary for Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell's inquiry as to what precautions should be taken when traveling, Fauci said, "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 infection."
He added, "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... I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low-risk location."
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, social media sites banned people for saying that masks don't work to prevent the spread of the virus. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) was given a 7-day suspension on YouTube in August 2021 for posting "a video that quotes 2 peer-reviewed articles saying cloth masks don't work."
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