FORTUNE – Dr. Anthony Fauci may have stepped down as President Biden’s top medical adviser, but he’s still calling on Americans to mask up this winter if COVID cases skyrocket.
Former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director Fauci—who retired in December—spoke to CNN over the weekend about the COVID pandemic.
He suggested that if cases surge over the coming autumn and winter months, people should consider using masks once again, particularly if health officials recommend it as a way of suppressing transmission of the virus.
“I am concerned that people will not abide by [masking] recommendations,” Fauci said …
His interview with CNN came as a new strain of COVID, BA.2.86—known as the “Pirola” variant—is identified in four U.S. states.
Fauci stressed in Saturday’s interview that mask mandates were not making a return—but he did remind CNN viewers that health officials still recommend masks be worn to reduce individual risk.
“I would hope that if in fact we get to the point where the volume of cases is such and organizations like the CDC recommend—the CDC doesn’t mandate anything—that people wear masks,” he said.
“I would hope that [people] abide by the recommendation and take into account the risk to themselves and to their families”
Earlier this year, a scientific analysis of studies involving hundreds of thousands of people concluded that “wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of COVID‐19 like illness compared to not wearing masks.”
While the research team said in their paper that their confidence in the estimated effect of masking remained “limited,” Tom Jefferson, the Oxford University epidemiologist who led the Cochrane review, told journalist Maryanne Demasi there was “no evidence that masks are effective during a pandemic.”
“Makes no difference—none of it,” he said. “There is just no evidence that [masks] make any difference”…