Face coverings do not prevent the spread of “the virus”
- A policy review paper published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in May 2020 — the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal — found no evidence to support universal mask wearing as a protective measure in non-health care settings
- A recent meta-analysis and scientific review — which focused on randomized controlled studies rather than observational ones — found that, compared to no mask, mask wearing in the general population or among health care workers did not reduce influenza or influenza-like illness cases
- One study found U.S. states with universal mask mandates saw a 2% reduction in growth rates of positive COVID-19 tests compared to states that did not mandate masks
- Another investigation shows mask rules have had nothing to do with infection rates after all, as no matter how strict the mask rules and how high the compliance, cases have risen and fallen around the same time
Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the bitter conflict about mask wearing continues. In my view, the reason for this is because the science behind the mask mandates is never addressed by the politicians and public health professionals making the recommendations, and the media have completely given up on their journalistic duty.
What you end up with is Dr. Anthony Fauci saying things like “the data on mask wearing speaks for itself,” without telling you that virtually all studies published to date show that universal mask wearing does not prevent the spread of viral illness. The remedy would be journalistic investigation, but the mainstream media clearly doesn’t fulfill that role anymore.
It’s one thing to rely on opinion and unsubstantiated belief when making decisions for your own self. It’s another when opinion is used to justify public health mandates. When we’re talking about the health of billions of people, science really should guide the decisions made, and that means actually taking a cold hard look at the scientific literature.
A Journalist Investigates
In the featured video (below), Robert F. Kennedy Jr., founder of Children’s Health Defense, interviews investigative journalist Jeremy Hammond, who has written extensively about foreign policy, finance, vaccines and, more recently, pandemic response measures.
In the interview, they review a range of questions, including: Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? Is it possible that it was the result of gain-of-function research? What is the end goal of global measures such as lockdowns and universal mask wearing? Is it really all about protecting public health, or is there some other agenda at play?
With regard to mask wearing, what does the science say about their effectiveness against viral illnesses? Are there any drawbacks, such as ill health effects? Should children wear masks even though their risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death is virtually nonexistent and they’re not a significant vector for spread?
What are the larger societal consequences of mask wearing? What impact do the media have on how the public perceives mask orders, and just how do the media manufacture consent for these draconian freedom-robbing measures?
As noted by Kennedy, one commonly used tactic is to claim scientific consensus; that somehow, the science is unequivocal and cannot be disputed. It’s important to understand that this is nonsense. Science is never “settled,” and it’s exceptionally rare to end up with a scientific consensus on anything, because there are almost always two or more sides to any given inquiry.
Arguing for scientific consensus is particularly egregious and ludicrous when the bulk of the evidence actually demonstrates the complete opposite of what they say it does!
It’s really nothing short of “gaslighting” — a term used to describe a particularly insidious form of psychological manipulation in which victims are systematically fed false information that makes them question what they know to be true. Over time, the victim becomes increasingly unable to discern truth from falsehood as they start doubting their own perceptions.
What Does the Science Say?
With regard to universal mask wearing, the bottom line, Hammond says, is that the science does not support these recommendations. Under certain conditions, in certain settings, they can be modestly helpful, but by and large, there’s no support for the idea that people wearing masks everywhere they go will reduce infection rates and save lives.
Hammond points out that even the World Health Organization, in its June 5, 2020, guidance on face mask use, noted that there’s no direct evidence that universal masking of healthy people is an effective intervention against respiratory illnesses. According to the WHO:
“Meta-analyses in systematic literature reviews have reported that the use of N95 respirators compared with the use of medical masks is not associated with any statistically significant lower risk of the clinical respiratory illness outcomes or laboratory-confirmed influenza or viral infections …
At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID- 19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”
At the time, WHO recommended that cloth masks “should only be … used by infected persons … in community settings and not for prevention.” However, like Fauci, the WHO has vacillated on a number of measures, and in its October 20, 2020, update, the WHO is now back to urging people to use masks “as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives.”
And, despite the fact that there are no quality standards for cloth masks at all, they recommend wearing a fabric mask unless you’re in a higher risk group. Medical grade masks are only recommended for those over 60, people with underlying health conditions, those who feel ill and/or those caring for an ill family member.
Policy Review Found No Support for Universal Masking
A policy review paper published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in May 2020 — the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal — also found no evidence to support universal mask wearing as a protective measure in non-health care settings. According to the authors:
“Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza …
Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids …
There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure.
Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza … In this review, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of personal protective measures or environmental measures in reducing influenza transmission.”
Another meta-analysis and scientific review — which focused on randomized controlled studies rather than observational ones and was led by respected researcher Thomas Jefferson, cofounder of the Cochrane Collaboration — posted on the prepublication server medRxiv in April 2020, found that, compared to no mask, mask wearing in the general population or among health care workers did not reduce influenza-like illness (ILI) cases or influenza.
In one study, which looked at quarantined workers, it actually increased the risk of contracting influenza, but lowered the risk of ILI. They also found there was no difference between surgical masks and N95 respirators.
In countries with active community transmission and no herd immunity, nothing short of inhumane lockdowns can stop the spread of COVID-19, so the most sensible and sustainable path forward is to learn to live with the virus. Shifting focus away from mask mandates and toward the reality of respiratory viral spread will free up time and resources to protect the most vulnerable Americans. ~ Professor Joseph Ladapo
Jefferson also wrote an interesting article for the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), posted July 23, 2020, in which he provides a brief review of these studies. In it, he also bemoans the fact that lack of scientific evidence is being hidden by politics.
Policy Makers Lean on Low Quality Evidence
In an October 28, 2020, Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Joseph Ladapo, an associate professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, points out that “A hallmark of COVID-19 pandemic policy has been the failure of political leaders and health officials to anticipate the unintended consequences of their actions,” and that includes mask mandates.
“First, consider how the debate has evolved and the underlying scientific evidence. Several randomized trials of community or household masking have been completed,” Ladapo writes.
“Most have shown that wearing a mask has little or no effect on respiratory virus transmission … In March, when Anthony Fauci said, ‘wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better’ but ‘it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think it is,’ his statement reflected scientific consensus, and was consistent with the World Health Organization’s guidance.
Almost overnight, the recommendations flipped. The reason? The risk of asymptomatic transmission. Health officials said mask mandates were now not only reasonable but critical. This is a weak rationale, given that presymptomatic spread of respiratory viruses isn’t a novel phenomenon in public health …
The public assumes that research performed since the beginning of the pandemic supports mask mandates. Policy makers and the media point to low-quality evidence, such as a study of COVID-19 positive hairstylists in Missouri or a Georgia summer camp with an outbreak.
These anecdotes, while valuable, tell us nothing about the experience of other hairdressers or other summer camps that adopted similar or different masking practices. Also low-quality evidence: Videos of droplets spreading through air as people talk, a well-intended line of research that has stoked fears about regular human interactions.”
In the latest episode of our second season of “TRUTH” with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Kennedy interviews journalist and The Defender contributor Jeremy Hammond. The two focused on what has become a hotly debated issue in communities around the globe since the onset of the COVID crisis: mask wearing. Among the questions discussed: – What does the science have to say about the effectiveness of masks? – Can wearing masks have ill health effects? – Should children be required to wear masks? – What are the larger consequences of wearing masks? – What impact does the media have on how people perceive mask orders?