Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently suggested it is “inexplicable” that many Americans view mandatory masking as a violation of their freedom, according to a recent report.
“When you tell people they need to mask in an indoor congregate setting when you’re in a zone that has high dynamic of infection — that is looked upon by a lot of people, not everybody, as an encroachment on your freedom,” said Fauci at an event hosted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, located in Seattle. “We’ve never had that before. It’s almost inexplicable,” said Fauci.
Fauci continued, saying the Covid-19 vaccination push in the U.S. is a “very difficult situation.”
“You have people who don’t want to get vaccinated for any of a variety of reasons, ranging from pure anti-vax to just because we’re telling them to get vaccinated,” said Fauci.
The doctor noted that 67 percent of the population is vaccinated, with just half that number receiving their booster shots. “That means a third of the people in the country are vaccinated and properly boosted. How could that possibly be when you have a disease that’s killed one million Americans, and you have a hesitancy to use a life-saving intervention which is a vaccine and a booster?” asked Fauci. “It seems like — what world are we living in?”
Dr. Fauci’s comments follow weeks after he stated that if he could change anything about the response to the pandemic, he would have recommended that “much, much more stringent restrictions” be imposed during the spring of 2020.
During an interview, Fauci told the hosts that he “knew in 2020 what I know now, we would do a lot differently.”
“The insidious nature of spread in the community would have been much more of an alarm, and there would have been much, more stringent restrictions in the sense of very, very heavy encouragement of people to wear masks, physical distancing, what have you,” said Fauci.
Fauci’s stance has shifted over time
In the meantime, Fauci’s publicly-shared opinion on the threat of the virus and the importance of masking has shifted dramatically since the start of the pandemic.
In February 2020, Fauci said, “whenever you have the threat of a transmissible infection, there are varying degrees from understandable to outlandish extrapolations of fear.” He also called the risk to Americans “minuscule.”
At the time, the doctor suggested that only individuals infected with Covid-19 should wear face masks. “If you look at the masks that you buy in a drug store, the leakage around that doesn’t really do much to protect you,” said Fauci.
In the interview, Fauci said that Americans in areas of high transmission should wear a “well-fitted mask that is of high quality,” like the KN95 or N95, in places of worship, schools, or other areas where there may be large gatherings of people in a closed environment.