Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday he opposes conducting a controlled study on the effectiveness of masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Fauci discussed the idea during a conversation with students of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service. One student asked if it is possible to do a study in the midst of a pandemic about the effectiveness of wearing masks:
“What kind of studies can we do right now in the middle of the pandemic about masks and transmission of the disease? Or are we just relying on anecdotal evidence because we are not able to do those kind of studies right now?”
Fauci said there are enough “meta-analyses” of existing data showing the efficacy of masks.
“Right now, I’m convinced enough in the summation and totality of the data that has been analyzed by meta-analysis that I’m convinced that the benefit of wearing a mask clearly is there and is better than not wearing a mask.”
In theory, a randomized controlled study would test the spread of the virus among people wearing masks versus people not wearing masks and possibly scientifically demonstrate the effectiveness of wearing one. But Fauci balked at the idea.
“I would not want to do a randomized controlled study because that would mean having people not wear masks and see if they do better,” he said.
Fauci suggested he would never ask an individual to participate in a study that would involve not wearing a mask.
“I think that to do the study would be kind of difficult to do because then you’d have to tell people not to wear masks, and I’m not about to tell them that,” he said.