Did the World Health Organization Say We Don’t Need to Wear Masks?

A viral Facebook post claims that the World Health Organization has said that “you do not need to wear a mask.” The post is a screenshot of a different post by John Sullivan, which appeared at a blog called Rainbow Warrior 2005, that says: “In a telling admission made on January 22, 2021, the World Health Organization now says there is no scientific medical reason for any healthy person to wear a mask outside of a hospital. Sadly, our corrupt politicians and mainstream media only relate the bad news.”

This is a false claim. The WHO made no such statement in a January 22 press conference.

In fact, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead for WHO, spoke about the importance of mask-wearing during the January 22 press conference. She mentioned that masks alone are not “enough,” while still emphasizing that they are an important part in protecting against COVID-19: 

[M]asks are one aspect of control, one aspect of reducing the spread of this virus and they can’t be used alone. We need to emphasize that because not one solution is enough; not masks alone, not physical distancing, not hand hygiene; you’ve heard us say that quite a lot.

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Comments (3)
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  • I recommend this post be updated to be more specific about the timeframe of WHO guidance being referenced or to update the hard "No" provided. The WHO put out guidance similar to the CDC discouraging masks early in the pandemic. The WHO guidance was only people with COVID-19 or those caring for people with COVID-19 need to wear masks (the actual WHO guidance is now updated, but this Politifact post references that early guidance https://www.politifact.com/article/2020/mar/05/stop-sharing-myths-about-preventing-coronavirus-he/ ).

    The WHO, like many of those in public health, engaged in the "Noble Lie" early in the pandemic before they switched to their current position on masks.

  • Thank you