A New York Times article published Tuesday claims that even after people receive a dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, they will need to wear a mask in public, marking a stark contrast to what elected leaders and health officials have implied about a return to “normal” once a vaccine arrives.
“Here’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask,” the headline reads.
While trials from both of the main U.S. vaccine manufacturers and suppliers suggest that the vaccine is approximately 95 percent effective, a number that was labeled “truly striking,” by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the New York Times asserts that masks, should still be in regular use even after the vaccine is distributed and administered.
“If vaccinated people are silent spreaders of the virus, they may keep it circulating in their communities, putting unvaccinated people at risk,” the article warns, ignoring the science showing that mask efficacy is questionable.
Even though the article appears to express concerns that the vaccine which is injected into muscle might not provide antibodies to the nose and throat to prevent the spread of the virus, the author refutes this claim several paragraphs later by quoting experts and a study that “suggests that a strong immune response in the blood would also protect mucosal tissues.”
“Only people who have virus teeming in their nose and throat would be expected to transmit the virus, and the lack of symptoms in the immunized people who became infected suggests that the vaccine may have kept the virus levels in check,” the author wrote.
Despite proven studies finding these vaccines are effective, the article closed by quoting a doctor who claimed that vaccines give people a “false sense of security.”
As Americans waited for hopeful news of a successful vaccine, health experts, officials, and politicians indicated that once a vaccine arrived, life could return to “normal.” Now that the vaccine is here, media outlets like the New York Times are refuting that promise.
Just last month, the Times published an interview with Donald G. McNeil Jr., a health and science reporter for the newspaper, who said that a vaccine might eradicate the need for certain restrictions that are currently in place.
“So we’re basically stuck with masks and not eating or meeting indoors until the vaccines arrive,” he said.
In September, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown claimed that Oregon will only return to normal when “we reach the day that there is an effective vaccine or treatment for this disease.”
And just a month before Dr. Fauci suggested that masks, physical distancing, and other health protocols should be followed despite a vaccine, an article in the Associated Press quoted him as saying that until a vaccine is distributed, people need “to be motivated to hang in there a bit longer and double down on the public health measures.”
While former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama have all agreed to take the vaccine, expressing hope and praise for it, some Democrats have encouraged skepticism over its production under the Trump administration.
In October, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged Americans to be “skeptical” of a vaccine manufactured and approved while Trump is still in office.
“You are going to say to the American people, now, here’s a vaccine, it is new, it was done quickly, but trust this federal administration and their health administration that it’s safe? And we’re not 100% sure of the consequences? I think it’s going to be a very skeptical American public about taking the vaccine and it should be.”
Cuomo also publicly rejected the Trump Admin’s efforts to move forward implementing a COVID-19 vaccine, vowing to work with other governors to stop its distribution “before it does damage.”
“The Trump administration is rolling out the vaccination plan and I believe it’s flawed,” Cuomo said. “I believe that it learns nothing from the past.”
During the vice-presidential debate, Democratic VP Nominee Kamala Harris, prompted by moderator Susan Page of USA Today, also cast suspicion over a vaccine promoted by Trump during the vice presidential debate saying that she doesn’t trust him enough to get it.
“If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.