A new scientific review raises additional questions over the science behind the mask mandates imposed on the population for years. The new scientific review by 12 researchers from leading universities found little support for the claims that masks reduced Covid exposures. My interest in the story, as usual, focuses on free speech. Numerous experts were suspended or banned for challenging these very claims and the media labeled any such critics as dangerous or fringe figures. Regardless of your ultimate conclusions on the efficacy of masks, there was clearly a scientific basis to challenge the mask policies. Yet, many people were routinely censored on Twitter and other platforms for daring to challenge the official position on masks.
The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) initially rejected the use of a mask mandate. However, the issue became a political weapon as politicians and the press claimed that questioning masks was anti-science and even unhinged. In April 2020, the CDC reversed its position and called for the masking of the entire population, including children as young as 2 years old. The mask mandate and other pandemic measures like the closing of schools are now cited as fueling emotional and developmental problems in children.
The closing of schools and businesses was also challenged by some critics as unnecessary. Many of those critics were also censored. It now appears that they may have been right. Many countries did not close schools and did not experience increases in Covid. However, we are now facing alarming drops in testing scores and alarming rises in medical illness among the young.
Masks became a major social and political dividing line in politics and the media. Maskless people were chased from stores and denounced in Congress. Then-CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said during a Senate hearing that “face masks are the most important powerful health tool we have.”
However, the new publication reaffirms earlier studies and states that “a new scientific review suggests that widespread masking may have done little to nothing to curb the transmission of COVID.” It added that “wearing a mask may make little to no difference in how many people caught a flu-like illness/COVID-like illness (nine studies; 276,917 people); and probably makes little or no difference in how many people have flu/COVID confirmed by a laboratory test (six studies; 13,919 people).”
It also found little evidence of a difference from wearing better masks and that “wearing N95/P2 respirators probably makes little to no difference in how many people have confirmed flu (five studies; 8407 people); and may make little to no difference in how many people catch a flu-like illness (five studies; 8407 people), or respiratory illness (three studies; 7799 people).”
Again, I expect that these studies will be debated for years. That is a good thing. There are questions raised over the types of studies used and whether randomized studies are sufficient. The point is only that there were countervailing indicators on mask efficacy and a basis to question the mandates. Yet, there was no real debate because of the censorship supported by many Democratic leaders in social media. To question such mandates was declared a public health threat.
The head of the World Health Organization even supported censorship to combat what he called an “infodemic.”
A lawsuit was filed by Missouri and Louisiana and joined by leading experts, including Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya (Stanford University) and Martin Kulldorff (Harvard University).
Bhattacharya previously objected to the suspension of Dr. Clare Craig after she raised concerns about Pfizer trial documents. Those doctors were the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated for a more focused Covid response that targeted the most vulnerable population rather than widespread lockdowns and mandates. Many are now questioning the efficacy and cost of the massive lockdown as well as the real value of masks or the rejection of natural immunities as an alternative to vaccination. Yet, these experts and others were attacked for such views just a year ago. Some found themselves censored on social media for challenging claims of Dr. Fauci and others.
The media has quietly acknowledged the science questioning mask efficacy and school closures without addressing its own role in attacking those who raised these objections. Even raising the lab theory on the origin of Covid 19 (a theory now treated as plausible) was denounced as a conspiracy theory. The science and health reporter for the New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, even denounced the theory as “racist.”
In the meantime, California has moved to potentially strip doctors of their licenses for spreading dissenting views on Covid.
The latest review will not conclusively answer the scientific questions around mask efficacy, but it should answer any lingering questions over the harm of censorship. We never had a serious debate because of the government-corporate-media alliance to snuff out dissenting views on pandemic policies. The result may have been avoidable emotional, economic, and social harm to the population as a whole.