Anthony Fauci Dismissed Masks in 2019 as a ‘Paranoid’ Tool

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci (L) speaks with US businessman David Rubenstein during the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors press conference at The Kennedy Center on May 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci once dismissed wearing a mask to prevent infectious disease as a “paranoid” tool, laughing at the prospect during a 2019 sit-down interview on The David Rubenstein Show.

During the interview, which aired May 22, 2019, nearly a year before the Chinese coronavirus pandemic hit, Rubenstein and Fauci discussed infectious diseases, vaccines, and measures of protection to prevent illness. At the end of the interview, Rubenstein asked the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director to weigh in on the best way to protect oneself from infectious disease.

“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, triggering a quick dismissal from Fauci.

“No, no, no,” Fauci said, letting out a laugh.

“I don’t need to do that,” Rubenstein said following Fauci’s reaction. “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, seemingly categorizing mask-wearing as a tool of the “paranoid.”

“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 continued.

“Get good sleep. I think the normal, low tech healthy things are the best things you can do, David, to stay healthy,” Fauci added.

The original video of that conversation may be watched at Bloomberg.com.

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:

Shoppers at the Union Square farmers market wear masks to protect against the coronavirus, Friday, March 26, 2021, in New York. A year after becoming a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York and New Jersey are back atop the list of U.S. states with the highest rates of infection. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Shoppers at the Union Square farmers market wear masks to protect against the coronavirus (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer).

“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:

A man wears a double mask as he visits Times Square in New York on December 10, 2020. - US President-elect Joe Biden said he will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration to curtail the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

A man wears a double mask as he visits Times Square in New York on December 10, 2020 (KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images).

“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.

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