A "misstep" in communicating to the public the benefits of wearing a mask early in the Covid-19 pandemic has hurt its "credibility" as public health tool, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci on Tuesday said that in the beginning of the pandemic, health officials in the country were trying to make sure health care workers had enough personal protective equipment, including masks, as hospitals filled with Covid-19 patients.
"What got, I think, a little bit misrepresented in that message was not that it was just we wanted to preserve them, but they don't really work that well anyway," Fauci said in an interview with CNN Contributor Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, host of the Crooked Media podcast "America Dissected."
"That was the mistake, because in fact there's no doubt that wearing a mask is better than not having a mask for the general public," he added.
As new data started to come out showing the effectiveness of wearing masks to reduce the spread of the virus and on the significant percentage of people infected with the virus who are asymptomatic, it became even more clear that everybody should wear a mask, Fauci said.
"It's almost as if we should say everybody should assume that you're an asymptomatic infected person. And that's the reason why you should wear a mask. But unfortunately that misstep in the beginning, when the connection between saving a short supply was equated with 'they don't have much benefit anyway, so why wear it?' ... I mean, that was the misstep. And you're right, it made it now a real challenge in communication," Fauci said.