Social media erupted after Dr. Anthony Fauci was confronted by a CNN host with a study showing face masks made little to no difference in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conservative critics pounced on the former White House chief medical adviser after he acknowledged the masking study during the Saturday segment — while continuing to insist that, at an individual level, other research shows face coverings are effective at curtailing the spread of the virus.
“When you’re talking about the effect on the epidemic or the pandemic as a whole, the data are less strong,” Fauci admitted to CNN’s Michael Smerconish.
“But there are other studies, Michael, that show at an individual level, for individuals,” they might be protective, he said.
Fauci also stressed during the interview that at the moment “we’re not talking about forcing anybody to do anything.”
“Fauci admits that masks don’t work for the public at large but still absurdly claims masks work on an individual basis. More subterfuge,” Sen. Ran Paul (R-Ky.), a political nemesis of Fauci, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Fauci admits that masks don’t work for the public at large but still absurdly claims masks work on an individual basis. More subterfuge. pic.twitter.com/UcjOa8flkr
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 3, 2023
“This is amazing. According to Fauci, masks work at the individual level but not on the pandemic level. Makes sense,” TRIGGERnometry podcast co-host Konstantin Kisin
“Holy s***t @cnn just directly confronted Dr. Fauci on air with bullet proof scientific evidence that masks don’t work at all. It only took three years, but finally!” Outkick host Clay Travis wrote.
“Fauci confronted with most definitive data analysis possible that masks make ZERO difference against Covid. Not a little, not slight- Zero. And he just mutters some numerical illiteracy bulls–t about ‘individual protection.’ He’s a fraud and a liar,” conservative commentator Buck Sexton said.
“It’s really hard to assume Fauci’s disastrous ‘mistakes’ were in good faith when he refuses to acknowledge obvious facts that don’t require a PhD to decipher. It looks a lot more like ‘TRUST THE SCIENCE!’ only applies when it suits Fauci’s personal or political narrative,” former senior White House and US Intelligence Community official Cliff Sims said.
“Wow Fauci is SMOKED on masks and he has zero comeback,” conservative host Liz Wheeler wrote.
Fauci, 82, stepped down from his post as chief medical adviser to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, last year.
During the initial onset of the pandemic, he suggested that masks were not providing the type of protection “people think it is” and underscored the severe shortage of masks afflicting health care providers.
As mask production ramp up and supply snarls abated, Fauci reversed course and endorsed masking to tamp down the spread.
This stoked uproar, particularly from conservatives who were angered by the mask mandates that followed.
“I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people,” Fauci told CBS News about his reversal on masking at the time.
There has been a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases nationally over recent weeks, elevating concerns about stringent pandemic suppression measures returning.