Head of CDC says masks are better than vaccine at preventing spread of COVID-19

ByMaegan Vazquez, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
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The head of the CDC testified that mask wearing may be a more effective protection against coronavirus than the potential vaccine.

President Donald Trump's own health officials continue to publicly contradict him when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic -- this time on the importance of mask wearing.

In fact, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified that mask wearing may be a more effective protection against coronavirus than the potential vaccine that the President can't stop hyping.

"I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70%. And if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will," Redfield told lawmakers during public testimony on Wednesday, adding that the American public has not yet embraced the use of masks to a level that could effectively control the outbreak.

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The comment comes the day after Trump's White House held a peace agreement ceremony with dignitaries from three foreign countries that largely ignored social distancing and mask guidelines -- and the President awkwardly and baselessly named "waiters" as part of a group of people who don't like wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

Despite the CDC's repeated calls for Americans to wear face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Trump said during an ABC town hall Tuesday night that "there are a lot of people that think that masks are not good."

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Asked for a specific example, Trump said waiters.

"They come over, they serve you and they have a mask. And I saw it the other day, where they were serving me and they're playing with the mask. I'm not blaming them. ... They're playing with the mask. ... They're touching it and then they're touching the plate. That can't be good," Trump said.

The President has occasionally donned a mask and said they're important. But his actions send a different message to supporters: The White House and Trump's reelection campaign have also disregarded the CDC's guidance, state guidelines and local public health officials, permitting large crowds of rallygoers to stand shoulder to shoulder, not mandating mask wearing.

Other top Trump administration health officials, including Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health and human services, and Dr. Bob Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, also testified Wednesday to the importance of mask wearing in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

After Trump questioned the effectiveness of masks on ABC, his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, told reporters on Wednesday that the President has "always supported mask-wearing."

"Yesterday he was pointing to a quote, that event Dr. (Anthony) Fauci has noted, which is that masks can have unintended consequences. While we support wearing them, and it's patriotic to do so, the unintended consequence can be inappropriate usage," McEnany said.