Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a Friday segment of Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto” that he was “taken totally out of context” when he discussed the possibility that face masks may have to be worn until 2022.
Fauci said “come on, let’s get serious” when questioned by host Neil Cavuto on some of the criticism he’s received since making the comments in a February interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” (RELATED: CNN’s Sanjay Gupta Says It’s ‘Unlikely’ There Will Be ‘A Significant Fourth Surge’ Of Coronavirus In The US)
Cavuto began by noting Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Dr. Marty Makary’s criticism of Fauci that he’s being “too cautious” in his response to the pandemic as it relates to herd immunity. Cavuto brought up Fauci’s comments about masks, in which he said to CNN’s Dana Bash that “it’s possible” Americans could still be wearing masks in 2022, depending on the state of “normality” in relation to the pandemic, and how you define it. He then asked Fauci if he was being cautious to the point it would make it “impossible” to come out of the pandemic mindset.
“Well, first of all, let me respond to one thing that that person is saying, that he’s just completely misunderstanding,” Fauci answered. “He says when I talk about herd immunity, I’m only considering people who are vaccinated. That is completely incorrect.”
He went on to say that herd immunity is an “illusive concept” because we don’t know the percentage of people who’ve already been infected, and are likely protected from the virus, in addition to the people who’ve been vaccinated. He added that the greater in number that combined group of people is, then we get closer to having “a blanket of protection over the community.”
“Regarding being too cautious, we want to make sure that when we make recommendations, we do it on the basis of the science,” he continued. “You can say it is likely that something is the case, which is true. It is likely that if you’re vaccinated that you’re not going to spread infection if you get infected without any symptoms. There’s no doubt about that. I understand that as well as anybody else.”
He then stated that once studies come out showing that to be the case, then people can pull back on wearing masks if they’re vaccinated. He added that he wants to be conservative until then and wait until they get the data that proves it.
“But wearing masks into 2022, doctor? Do you still stand by that?” Cavuto jumped in.
“Come on, let’s get serious about this. That was taken totally out of context. What I was saying —” Fauci responded before Cavuto jumped in again asking, “You don’t think that’s right? You don’t think you should have masks in 2022?”
“We don’t know. I’m not saying that we will. If we get a major surge and we have a continuation of an increase in cases, it’s conceivable that we may be having to wear masks in 2022,” Fauci said. “If we continue to get people vaccinated and we get the overwhelming majority of people together with those that have been infected and the level of infection goes way down, we very likely will not have to.
“We’re playing this game here. You take a word or a sentence somebody says and you throw a got-you at them. No, I did not say definitively we unquestionably will be wearing masks in 2022. I said under certain circumstances that might be conceivable that we would have to. But there are circumstances in which we may not have to,” he concluded.