Fauci said it's 'quite possible' people will continue wearing masks during 'seasonal periods' to prevent the flu
Face masksmight become a "seasonal" item for Americans, Dr. Anthony Faucisaid.
- People may elect to wear them during flu season to prevent transmission.
- The US had a relatively mild flu season this year, likely due to COVID-19 prevention measures.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted Sunday that face masks may become a common "seasonal" item in the fight against the seasonal flu.
Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, made the remarks on NBC News' "Meet the Press" when moderator Chuck Todd asked "at what point" people should "take the masks off."
"Is the mask going to be something we have with us in a seasonal aspect?" Todd asked.
Fauci said that was "quite possible."
"I think people have gotten used to the fact that wearing masks, clearly, if you look at the data, diminishes respiratory diseases," he said. "We've had practically a non-existent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against COVID-19."
As Insider's Aylin Woodward previously reported, the US this year experienced an extremely mild flu season, even as experts last year feared that the seasonal flu could overwhelm healthcare systems already faced with the pandemic.
But between October 1 last year and January 30, there were just 155 hospitalizations in the US for the flu compared to 8,633 during roughly the same time frame the year prior, as Insider previously reported.
"The Australians during their winter, same thing," Fauci said Sunday. "They had almost no flu largely due to the kinds of things including mask-wearing.
"So it is conceivable that as we go on, a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory-borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you'll spread these respiratory-borne diseases," he added.
Despite their effectiveness, masks have remained at the center of the longstanding partisan divides about COVID-19. At the end of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their mask-wearing guidance, relaxing guidelines for wearing them outdoor, particularly for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
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