During a 2019 sit-down interview on The David Rubenstein Show, Dr. Anthony Fauci mocked wearing a mask to prevent infectious diseases as a “paranoid” tool, laughing at anyone who decided to do so.
Rubenstein and Fauci discussed infectious diseases, vaccines, and what people can do to avoid getting sick during the interview, which aired on May 22, 2019.
Rubenstein asked Fauci to explain the best steps a person may do to protect themselves from infectious disease towards the end of the conversation.
“And the best way to prevent me from getting an infectious disease and having to have you as my doctor is what? Wearing a mask — ” he began, before Fauci quickly interjected with a short, sharp dismissal.
“No, no, no,” Fauci said, laughing.
“I don’t need to do that,” Rubenstein said. “If somebody’s– I can see they’re getting ready to sneeze or cough, walk away?”
“You avoid all the paranoid aspects and do something positive,” Fauci responded, in reference to mask-wearing.
“A. Good diet. B. You don’t smoke, I know. I know you don’t drink. At least not very much, so that’s pretty good. Get some exercise. I know that you don’t get as much exercise as you should,” Fauci addded.
“Get good sleep. I think the normal, low tech healthy things are the best things you can do, David, to stay healthy,” Fauci said.
This is hardly the first time Fauci has dismissed the need for masks. During a 60 Minutes interview in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, he suggested masks provided more psychological relief than anything else.
“Right now, people should not be walking, there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” Fauci said at the time.
“When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is,” he said, warning of the “unintended consequences.”
“People keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face,” he added:
Emails from February 2020 also show Fauci’s dismissing drug store masks as “not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”
However, in the last year, Fauci has drastically changed his view, even advocating for double-masking and describing it as a “common-sense approach.” Early this year, he failed to rule out masking for vaccinated individuals as well:
“And just to be doubly sure, there are a couple of reasons to wear masks even after vaccination. One, you want to protect other people in case you have virus in your nasal fairings, and if you look in the community, there’s enough virus out there that before we start pulling back on things like public health measures, you want the overwhelming population vaccinated,” he said during a January appearance on America’s Newsroom.
Fauci’s flip-flopping on masks coincides with the stark reversals of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which now recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks if they are in areas of high transmission. Meanwhile, some states are reinstituting statewide mask mandates. Illinois is among them, forcing toddlers to mask up until further notice.
A University of Waterloo study released this year found cloth and surgical masks are not efficient at filtering exhaled aerosols, offering little protection.