The internet and cable news went apoplectic this week as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its COVID-19 face-mask recommendations. But according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC hasn't actually flip-flopped on its mask recommendations.
What's going on?
The agency announced Tuesday that it was now recommending that vaccinated people wear face masks indoors in public settings in areas where there is substantial or high COVID transmission, which counters the CDC's guidance from two months ago saying that vaccinated individuals did not need to don masks.
People on the left and the right immediately began questioning why the vaccinated population needed to wear masks if the vaccines are effectives as the government has claimed they are and blasted the health agency for flip-flopping on the issue.
Never one to miss an opportunity to defend the bureaucracy that continues to pay him quite well, Dr. Fauci, the top White House health adviser to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC Wednesday that despite appearances, the CDC has not flip-flopped.
Fauci told the "Morning Joe" audience that though the agency told vaccinated people just 60 days ago that they should shed the masks, "something has changed — and what has changed is the virus."
"The CDC hasn't changed, and the CDC hasn't really flip-flopped at all," Fauci claimed.
The good doctor said that when the CDC's springtime mask-removal guidance was issued, they were dealing with the Alpha variant, but now the Delta variant has changed the game.
"When that earlier recommendation was made, we were dealing predominantly with the Alpha variant," which was "extremely unlikely" for a vaccinated person "who happened to get infected" to transmit, he said.
"Now we are dealing with the Delta variant, which is really quite a lot more transmissible than the Alpha variant," Fauci stated, adding that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant "can and have transmitted the virus to uninfected individuals."
Former Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday that the CDC's new guidance is "confusing" and will have a "negligible" impact on reducing COVID spread.
"I don't think we're going to get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people they have to wear masks at all times to make it worth our while," Gottlieb told CNBC.
The full Fauci interview on "Morning Joe" is available below.