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CDC director says masks more guaranteed to work than a vaccine

The Hill logo The Hill 9/16/2020 Peter Sullivan
Robert R. Redfield wearing a suit and tie: CDC director says masks more guaranteed to work than a vaccine © AP/Pool CDC director says masks more guaranteed to work than a vaccine

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield said Wednesday that wearing a mask is more guaranteed to protect someone from coronavirus than taking a vaccine.

Redfield, speaking at a Senate hearing, emphasized the importance of wearing masks, noting that an eventual vaccine is not expected to work in 100 percent of people, and might only work in, say, 70 percent. But a mask is guaranteed to offer at least some protection for all wearers, he added, though it is far from total protection.

"We have clear scientific evidence they work, 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 percent and if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine's not going to protect me, this face mask will," Redfield said.

While experts widely say wearing masks is a very important part of the effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, the development of a vaccine is seen as a key step in getting back to close to pre-COVID-19 normality.

Redfield's emphasis on mask-wearing is a contrast to President Trump, who has rarely worn a mask and has held rallies with crowds of many maskless supporters.

"These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans to embrace these face coverings, if we did it for 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks we'd bring this pandemic under control," Redfield said.

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