The director of the US National Institute of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, wrote in February 2020 that “store-bought masks” would not be “very effective in protecting against the COVID-19 epidemic” and even discouraged their use while travelling. The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News revealed based on hundreds of emails they were able to access in the early days of the pandemic.
In the now-released email, Fauci responded to a message from Sylvia Burwell, Barack Obama’s former health secretary, who requested guidance on using a mask while traveling. Fauci’s response dated February 5, 2020, stated that “the masks are intended for infected people, as they prevent them from transmitting the virus to uninfected people, but do not protect healthy people from infection,” begins with a doctor’s explanation.
“The common mask that you buy at the drugstore is not really effective in preventing viruses from entering, because it is small enough to pass through the material. However, it can have some advantages by preventing the entry of large droplets if someone coughs or sneezes,” he continues. By saying, “I wouldn’t recommend wearing a mask, mainly because you’re traveling to a very dangerous place.”
Fauci has already been criticized for changing his stance on masks. At the beginning of the epidemic, he was advised not to use masks, but he changed his position. On March 8, 2020, the doctor defended: “There is no need to walk around with a mask.” But that was before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on April 3 and began recommending its use in “public places.”