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Fauci defends mask mandates, says could've done a better job explaining their importance

The former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was quoted in a New York Times Magazine profile published this past weekend, saying masks work only at the margins, perhaps of 10%.

Published: April 26, 2023 1:18pm

Former White House COVID-19 expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday attempted to further explain a recent comment about how wearing masks to slow the spread of the virus had only a minor impact.

The former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director was quoted in a New York Times Magazine profile published this past weekend in saying masks work only at the margins, perhaps of 10%.

On Wednesday, CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins pointed out Fauci said at the height of the pandemic that masks mandates could work.

"To hear that they only work at the margins, maybe 10% would make a lot of people ask, OK then why was I wearing a mask for so many times?" Collins asked. 

Fauci responded the effect is, or was, marginal because so many people didn’t wear masks and that those who did often wore them improperly. 

Someone who wears a well fitted KN95 or N95 mask, is protected and it does really work, elaborated Fauci in the magazine interview. 

"The individual who religiously wears a properly fitted mask, the effect is much, much, much better than that. It’s 85, 90% or more," said the former White House chief medical advisor. 

On the question of whether he thought in hindsight that mask mandates were a mistake, Fauci said he believes people doubted such mandates because he did not do a good enough job reaching out and explaining why masking was important. 

"Because whenever, particularly in our country, with our free spirit, which we all embrace, that people being told what to do very often has the opposite effect," he said.

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