Dr. Fauci's comments on mask-wearing were taken out of context and misconstrued. He did not contradict himself.
On January 25, White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked if wearing two face masks at once during the pandemic provides more protection than just wearing one. “It likely does,” Dr. Fauci said to NBC News’ TODAY. He added: “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective. That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95."
Two days later, during a CNN town hall, Dr. Fauci reiterated what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding masks. He said, "The CDC does not recommend that you should wear two masks, nor does the CDC recommend that you have to wear an N95 mask. They just say, 'The most important thing is to get everybody to wear a mask.'"
A day later, on January 28, Dr. Fauci answered questions from members from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) during a livestream posted to AFT's YouTube channel for a "vaccine discussion." He said, "The CDC has not changed any of its recommendations about mask-wearing to suggest 'wear two masks' or 'do an N95.' They haven't gone there, they have just said everybody should wear a mask."
Dr. Fauci also said, "There are many people who feel, you know, if you really wanna have an extra little bit of protection, maybe I should put two masks on. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's no data that indicates that that is gonna make a difference, and that's the reason why the CDC has not changed their recommendations," Fauci said.
After this appearance on AFT's YouTube channel, many social media users took his comments out of context to claim that Dr. Fauci took a "U-turn" on his comments on double masking. However, Dr. Fauci did not do that, and his comment was taken out of context to mislead people.
Firstly, during the TODAY show, Dr. Fauci did not explicitly advise people to wear two masks. He merely said, "It just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective," and also said that common sense is the logic behind why people double mask or wear N95 masks.
Later, during his appearance in the CNN town hall and AFT's livestream, he simply stated CDC's guidelines on masks and said they have not recommended doubling up. In AFT's video posted to YouTube, he said the CDC had not issued new recommendations because there is no current data available about the efficacy of doubling up on masks.
If all three statements are put into context and read in order, it is clear that Dr. Fauci did not contradict himself. He never recommended that people use two masks, and in other places, he was merely stating the CDC's current guidelines.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.