Dr. Anthony Fauci was questioned by CNN reporter Michael Smerconish this week about a new study that questioned how well face masks worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
What did the study find?
The effects of “physical interventions” to limit the transmission of respiratory viruses were the subject of a recent systematic review published in January by the Cochrane Institute. According to the study’s findings, using a mask “most likely makes little or no difference in regard to the outcome” whether it comes to COVID-19, laboratory-confirmed flu, or illnesses similar to the flu or COVID.
After the study came out, the first author, Oxford researcher Tom Jefferson, said, “There has been just no proof that masks make any kind of difference.”
When he talked about N-95 masks, he said, “It doesn’t matter, none of it does.” He said that mask laws were implemented because legislators were “convinced through nonrandomized research, flawed observational research.”
What did you see on CNN?
Smerconish asked Fauci about that research and Jefferson’s analysis. He started by citing New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who said the review was the “most rigorous as well as comprehensive analysis of scientific studies done on the effectiveness of masks for preventing the spreading of respiratory illnesses.”
Fauci, on the other hand, wouldn’t move.
“To be sure, Michael, there are additional studies that demonstrate that when discussing the impact on the epidemic or pandemic overall, the data is weaker at the individual level,” he said.
“However, there’s no denying that there are numerous studies that demonstrate the benefit when you discuss it from the perspective of an individual who is defending themselves or preventing others from becoming ill,” he said. “When you look at a large group of people, like in the Cochrane study, the findings are less clear about the effect on the pandemic as a whole. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about how each person affects his or her own safety. That’s a little different from the number for the whole community.”