Fauci Warns Of ‘Confusing’ Studies On Masking
Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifying
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

People are being misled about studies examining the effectiveness of face masks against COVID, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Jonathan Karl, a co-anchor of ABC’s “This Week,” pressed Fauci on the efficacy of masking near the end of an interview on Sunday. “There’s a new study out that suggests that masks were actually not effective, at least in a global sense, in containing the pandemic,” Karl said. “What is your sense, looking back at all this? Did masks prove to be less effective than you anticipated?”

Fauci responded by insisting that “some of the studies are confusing” and then singled out an analysis released in January by The Cochrane Institute, which raised the prospect that masks hardly made a difference in stopping the spread of respiratory viruses such as COVID.

The study prompted headlines saying that face masks made “little to no difference” in preventing the spread of COVID after a wave of mask guidelines and mandates during the pandemic, but Karla Soares-Weiser, editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Library, responded with a statement in March saying it was an “inaccurate and misleading interpretation” to claim that the study found that “masks don’t work.”

“The study that recently has been now quoted a lot and causing a lot of confusion is this Cochrane study, which even the people who run the Cochrane study say that that study can be misleading because people have commented on that study saying, ‘Absolutely masks don’t work,’ which is absolutely not the case because there are a number of studies that show that masks actually do work,” Fauci said.

“And there’s a lot of confusion where you take a broad series of studies, and you look at them in a meta-analysis,” he added. “Only a couple of those studies were specifically looking at COVID. So, I think we’d better be careful that that study that people keep talking about can be very, very misleading. There’s a lot of good data that masks work.”


Fauci, now part of the faculty at Georgetown University, was a longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and former chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. Toward the end of his tenure in government, Fauci faced blowback for how he jumped from advising people not to wear face masks early in the COVID pandemic to advocating for masking against the virus, a change he attributed to the emergence of new data.

In an interview that aired on CNN last week, Fauci insisted that “many studies” show masking protects people on an “individual basis” rather than on a “broad population” level.

One of Fauci’s most vocal critics, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), shot back in a post to X. “Fauci admits that masks don’t work for the public at large, but still absurdly claims masks work on an individual basis. More subterfuge,” Paul said.

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