Fauci Defends Reversal on Masks, Says CDC Hasn’t ‘Flip-Flopped’: ‘What Has Changed is the Virus’


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that the change in CDC guidelines over wearing masks reflects the latest surge in coronavirus cases amid the Delta variant spreading in the United States.

On Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced, “In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others.”

The guidance applies to schools, she said, in that her agency “recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors regardless of vaccination status.”

On Wednesday, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Fauci “why we are discussing vaccine mandates and why we’re looking at a mask mandate all over again because there are some who say the CDC doesn’t know what it’s doing, what is it going to be today?”

Fauci replied that since the CDC guidance on masks in March – that vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors – “something has changed.”

“What has changed is the virus. The CDC hasn’t changed. The CDC hasn’t really flipped-flopped. What’s happened is that when that earlier recommendation was made dealing predominantly with the Alpha variant,” said Fauci.

“And the alpha variant, when you look at individuals who are vaccinated, that the level of virus in the nasopharynx of vaccinated people who might breathe through infection, that the level of virus was really low, indicating that it would be extremely unlikely that a vaccinated person who happened to get infected, and that happens because the vaccine is certainly not 100% effective, that that would be very unlikely that that would transmit.”

“However,” he continued, “now, we are dealing with the delta variant, which is really quite a lot more transmissible than the Alpha variant.”

Another reason for the new CDC guidelines, according to Fauci, is that “the data are clear, the most recent data, that when a person gets infected who has been vaccinated, namely a breakthrough infection, and they get infected with the Delta variant, that the level of virus in their nasopharynx is about a thousand times higher than with the Alpha variant.”

Fauci acknowledged that “even though it’s a rare occurrence those individuals can and have transmitted the virus to uninfected individuals,” it is “for that reason, the recommendations and the guidelines have been changed to say that if you are vaccinated, even though you are vaccinated, when you are in an indoor public setting in an area of the country with a high degree of viral dynamics, mainly the red and orange sections on the CDC chart, then you need to wear a mask even though you are vaccinated.”

Watch above, via MSNBC.

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