Rubio Sounds Off on Anthony Fauci for 'Lying' About Masks, Changing Goalposts on Herd Immunity

Posted: Dec 28, 2020 9:00 AM
Rubio Sounds Off on Anthony Fauci for 'Lying' About Masks, Changing Goalposts on Herd Immunity

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday over his claims about masks and herd immunity, accusing the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of being part of the elite that has been trying to deceive the public.

“Dr. Fauci lied about masks in March,” he tweeted. “Dr. Fauci has been distorting the level of vaccination needed for herd immunity It isn’t just him Many in elite bubbles believe the American public doesn’t know ‘what’s good for them’ so they need to be tricked into ‘doing the right thing.’”

Fauci initially told the public mask-wearing was not necessary prior to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changing its guidance in April. 

“We were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply,” Fauci told The Street in June about why Americans were misled about masks. "We wanted to make sure the people, namely, the healthcare workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in harm's way to take care of people who you know were infected with coronavirus, and the danger of them getting infected. We did not want them to be without the equipment they needed."

His estimate on herd immunity also changed over time. He initially gave between 60 to 70 percent as the level of vaccination/infection the U.S. would need to reach for herd immunity, then moved it to 70-75 percent, and most recently he bumped it up to 75 to 85 percent.

"When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” he told The New York Times last week. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85. We need to have some humility here .... We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I'm not going to say 90 percent."

He also likened it to measles—a point he expanded upon in subsequent interviews. 

"Measles is about 98 percent effective vaccine; the COVID-19 vaccine is about 94 percent," Fauci said on CNN’s "State of the Union."

"When you get below 90 percent of the population vaccinated with measles, you start seeing a breakthrough against the herd immunity, people starting to get infected, like we saw in upper New York State and in New York City, with the Orthodox Jewish group, when we had the measles outbreak."

He said he made the “guestimate” based on his “calculation” that COVID-19 isn’t as transmissible as measles.

"I think 75-80% for herd immunity for COVID-19 is a reasonable estimate, and in fact, most of my epidemiology colleagues agree with me," Fauci said.