Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN’s John Berman that the new mask recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are meant to both keep those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 from getting sick and also to stop them transmitting the virus to the unvaccinated.
“Certainly we know the main benefit of masks is that they prevent somebody who’s carrying the virus from actually spreading it to those around them. That’s the reason why we’ve been wearing masks for this last year or so,” he said on CNN's New Day Tuesday. “But there is also some protection for the mask wearer against virus that might be floating in their vicinity.”
While the likelihood of someone who is fully vaccinated getting the virus is pretty low, it’s even lower when they have a mask on, Collins said.
“The main reason is, once again, we’ve got a lot of community spread,” he said. “We have people in indoor settings, where some are vaccinated, some are not. If we want to try to tamp down this terrible Delta variant outbreak, the best thing we can do is get everybody vaccinated and get people to wear masks in those settings.”
He said that he knows people are tired of this, and that they think it “seems like a flip flop,” but the data changed.
“We are not making this recommendation now just for random reasons,” he said. “We have new evidence that the masks really are going to be important to get us through this if you’re indoors.”