Doctor Anthony Fauci is backtracking once again after he said last week that wearing two masks “likely does” offer more protection against COVID-19 than just wearing one.
Speaking on a video livestream interview with the American Federation of Teachers, Fauci more recently said “there’s no data” to support double masking.
“There are many people who feel, you know, if you really want to have an extra little bit of protection, maybe I should put two masks on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference,” Fauci said.
“And that’s the reason why the CDC has not changed their recommendation.”
Last week, Fauci told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie that wearing two masks was a good idea.
“I mean this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in. So, if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” he said.
Despite reversing course from those original comments, on Tuesday, February 2, Fauci said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering recommending Americans wear two masks.
In a live-streamed interview with The Washington Post, Fauci was asked by David Ignatius whether the CDC is “likely to move towards a double masking recommendation?”
“That’s possible, David,” Fauci responded. “In fact, just discussions with my CDC colleagues yesterday, who were talking about the CDC is looking at doing a study of seeing whether or not two masks might be better than one. It makes common sense that you would think,” he added.
Fauci went on to say that the reason the CDC has not recommended double masking at this point is because the CDC is a “science-based organization” and so far, no scientific studies have shown that double masking is more effecting in protecting against COVID-19.
“But the reason why many people are using double masking, and in fact you probably have seen me wear a double mask, is that you can make a general common sense extrapolation, if one mask serves as a physical barrier, if you put two on, if you’re looking for enhancing the physical barrier, it makes common sense that it certainly can’t hurt and might help,” Fauci added.
He then repeated that there is “a lack of data” showing that double masking is more effective, and that is why the CDC hasn’t issued an official recommendation in support of wearing two masks.
Yet, other scientific experts disagree with Dr. Fauci’s assertion that wearing two masks “can’t hurt.”
After Fauci originally expressed support for double masking, infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, who was a member of the Biden Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, said that wearing two masks could increase the likelihood of becoming infected with COVID-19.
Osterholm told NBC’s Meet the Press, “What we’re concerned about is that many of these face cloth coverings do have already compromised fit or filtration capacity. If you add on another mask, you may actually make it tougher for the air to move through the two-cloth area, and then at that point, it causes more air to actually leak around the sides, which actually enhances your ability to get infected,” Osterholm said.
“I’m not saying that some couldn’t be used in a better way, but at the same time, there are many that may actually, you may do more harm.”
Though it seemed like Dr. Fauci had taken every conceivable position on wearing facemasks last week, you can now add at least one more to the list.
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Photo from JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS