Is Anthony Fauci an 'anti-masker'? Emails show he thought masks were 'not effective'

In one email, Dr Anthony Fauci says 'The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material'

                            Is Anthony Fauci an 'anti-masker'? Emails show he thought masks were 'not effective'
Dr Anthony Fauci speaks during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss the ongoing federal response to Covid-19 on May 11, 2021 in Washington, DC (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

In more than 3200 pages of emails obtained by Buzzfeed News, Dr Anthony Fauci's correspondence with experts and officials show his response to the coronavirus pandemic in its early stages. Out of the slew of emails where Fauci can be seen corresponding with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, former health advisers for the Obama administration, actor Morgan Fairchild, and several others - both critics and fans alike.

In one of the emails, Fauci even expresses his own bemusement at his newfound popularity as the leading expert on the pandemic right at the start, in 2020. But it is another email, obtained by the outlet through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which has sparked a Twitter-wide debate on whether Dr Fauci is actually an anti-masker.

The email that has grabbed the most attention is one dated February 5, 2020, where Fauci replies to a woman named Sylvia Burwell. The subject line says "RE: A couple of quick questions." Fauci opens his mail with "Sylvia:" and gets straight to the point about how "Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading (sic) infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection. The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material."


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'Do not recommend' masks

Fauci then adds: "It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep (sic) out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location. Your instincts are correct, money is best spent on medical countermeasures such as diagnostics and vaccines. Safe Travels, Best regards, Tony."

The topic of travel comes up again in another document among the thousands of pages released by Buzzfeed News, and also earlier by The Washington Post, who had published a similar expose on Monday, May 31. Dated  February 28, 2020 in Buzzfeed's list of documents released to the public, another email to Fauci is marked 'URGENT' in the subject line, continuing thereafter: "I understand Vice President Pence has ordered you to not inform the public about Coronavirus without approval. This is quite terrifying, especially since Trump has already shown his desire to spread false or incomplete information about this public health crisis."

The outlet claims it's a woman sending the email where she tells Fauci, “I’m planning to fly domestically TOMORROW [REDACTED]. Is it safe??” The outlet explains this was the early stages of the pandemic where the US Government's top infectious disease scientist was under immense pressure, while simultaneously assumed also being manipulated by his bosses. However, Fauci takes a whole day to write back to the woman "There is much misinformation. I actually have not been muzzled at all by the Vice President. And BTW, it is safe to fly domestically [REDACTED].”

These emails are becoming the basis of social media's judgment on Fauci's competence as the top expert in the biggest health crisis the US has faced in recent times. A screenshot of the mail where Fauci defies masks at the very beginning of the pandemic was shared on Twitter by criminal and police lawyer Phillip Holloway, which soon garnered massive scrutiny surrounding Fauci and his expertise on handling the pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gives the thumbs up after receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images)

'Big time anti masker'

Twitter users dubbed the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a "big time anti masker." Others have claimed "History will look back at the past year with complete humor. To wear a MASK while HUGGING someone is absolutely and utterly anti-science. To quote Dr. Fauci, 'Masks are generally not a good idea for the public because they give a false sense of protection.'"

Several complained "Fauci went along w trump, telling people NOT to mask up (for months), making us believe that nothing was better than something, which inevitably made mitigating the infection impossible since a good chunk of the population remained anti-mask to this day. He’s a coward" And some are angry that, "Mfs will berate you for being anti vax, anti covid and anti mask. I finally get it now, these ppl treat science as their GOD, and most ppl get offended when u talk down on their religion. Mfs preaching what fauci had to say on tv like he was Jesus." 





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