Anthony Fauci Credit: NIAID via Flickr under CC Licence 2.0

Dr Fauci: No guarantee masks can come off by autumn

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said it could be autumn by the time virus levels are low enough to justify lifting mask mandates.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci has said masks might only come off when the Covid-19 infection rate is so low that the virus no longer poses a threat to society.

The public health chief said that might not happen before autumn, when vaccination rates are high enough to create herd immunity.

Asked by Fox News host Brett Baier whether there will be “a time when we are going to have no masks?”, Fauci indicated it was indeed possible.

“That will really be dependent upon how we get the level of the virus in the community down. If we can get — and I have used this as an estimate, it is not definitive — if we can get 70 to 85 percent of the population vaccinated and get to what we would hope would be to a degree of herd immunity, which really is an umbrella or a veil of protection against the community,” he explained.

“Where the level of virus is so low, it’s not a threat at all. Then at that point, you can start thinking in terms of not having to have a uniform wearing of masks.

“But we’re certainly not near there yet. When do I think that would occur? It’s very difficult to predict, Bret, but if everything falls into the right place and we get this under control, it is conceivable that you might be able to pull back a bit on some of the public health measures as we get into the late fall of this year.

“But there’s no guarantee of that,” he added.

Fauci had been criticised for reversing his advice on masks before, with the health chief initially saying “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask” in March, only to recommend them as essential last summer.

He cited a shortage of PPE during the beginning of the pandemic as justifying his initial advice, whilst he has more recently claimed that wearing two masks rather than one “was common sense” in creating a more effective barrier against transmitting the disease.

“It just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” he told US programme Today.

“You know it likely does [stop infection] because this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in.”

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