Former FDA commissioner: Masks 'can still be helpful' against delta variant, but quality matters

Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, advised people on Sunday to keep wearing masks as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and the delta variant spreads, adding that the quality of the masks also matters.

Speaking to CBS's "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson, Gottlieb said the makeup of the delta variant is not vastly different from those of prior dominant strains of COVID-19.

"So it's not more airborne and it's not more likely to be permeable to a mask. So a mask can still be helpful," Gottlieb said. "I think, though, if you're going to consider wearing a mask, the quality of the mask does matter. So if you can get your hands on a KN95 mask or an N95 masks, that's going to afford you a lot more protection."

Gottlieb also said that at the beginning of the pandemic, public health experts advised against acquiring such masks due to shortages, but he praised the Biden administration for "ramping up" supply.

"So I would encourage people look at the quality of the mask and try and get their hands on a better quality of mask," he said.

Gottlieb also spoke about how transmissible the delta variant is, stating that vaccinated people are still less likely to spread it, though the chances of transmission are likely higher when compared to the transmissibility of older strains.

"There probably is a higher chance that you can transmit this delta virus than some of the old strains because there's just more of this virus. The viral levels are higher earlier in the course of the infection," Gottlieb said.