CDC director says face masks may be more effective than a vaccine at stopping COVID-19

In February the director claimed healhy people did not need to wear masks.

Updated: September 16, 2020 - 7:35pm

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CDC Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday that face masks may be more effective than vaccination at stopping COVID-19. 

Redfield made the comment during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. 

"We have clear scientific evidence [masks] work, and they are our best defense,” he said. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine.” 

"If I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will," he also said, holding up his face mask. 

Redfield, who leads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has for months touted the benefits of mask wearing, though earlier in the pandemic he stated unequivocally that wearing one during the outbreak was unnecessary for most people. 

Asked by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan during a hearing in February whether Americans had a need to wear a mask if they are healthy, Redfield replied: "No."

Many public health authorities expressed similar opposition to widespread mask usage in the early part of the year, though most officials began changing those recommendations in March and April, arguing newfound evidence showed face masks can help stop the virus from spreading.