Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, reiterated the importance of wearing masks right now to protect against COVID-19 — even if a person has been vaccinated — because of virus variants currently spreading throughout the U.S., against which vaccines may be less effective.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked Fauci during a March 18 Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing why widespread mask-wearing was needed when significant coronavirus reinfections were not happening. Fauci said the senator was missing key context: that variants are now spreading throughout the country, as opposed to “wild-type,” which refers to the original virus that causes COVID-19. “When you talk about reinfection and you don’t keep in the concept of variants, that’s an entirely different ballgame. That’s a good reason for a mask,” Fauci said during a back-and-forth exchange with Paul.
“I agree with you that you very likely would have protection from wild-type for at least six months, if you’re infected. But we, in our country now, have variants that are circulating.”
Paul then accused Fauci of wearing a mask for theater and that “there’s no science behind it,” even though numerous scientific studies provide overwhelming evidence that wearing a mask prevents transmission of the virus. “Masks are not theater,” Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, responded. “Masks are protective.”
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