ID Epidemiologist sets the record straight
This is how you interpret evidence
An infectious disease epidemiologist at UC San Diego, Dr. John Ayers sets the record straight about the evidence for masking.
As I read this article I realized that Dr Ayers was spot on. Let me point out a few things he understands well, which many ‘experts’ have simply gotten wrong.
“Pre-pandemic, masking was discouraged by experts because the evidence then was negative on the protective effects of masking for the wearer. For instance, a randomized study of health care providers who wore cloth masks for four weeks in 14 hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam, during 2011 found they experienced higher rates of respiratory illness, laboratory-confirmed viral infection and influenza-like illness than controls — who followed usual practice while working. Guidance by the World Health Organization in January 2020 stated that “cloth (e.g. cotton or gauze) masks are not recommended under any circumstance.”
No doubt about it. Pre-pandemic the consensus was not to advise community masking. That’s why Fauci was telling the truth in the original 60 minutes interview, and later when he endorsed cloth masking, he was lying. The noble lie was exactly the opposite of the one you think.
“With an abundance of uncertainty early during the pandemic, community masking using cloth or reusable surgical masks was encouraged in the hope that despite the lack of supporting real world evidence, there may be a community benefit if we all mask.”
Absolutely, it was a lobbying campaign among some concerned scientists which let to the #masks4all movement. It was nicely captured in the Mask Debacle by Jacob Hale Russell. But it was propaganda, and not new evidence, that drove this.
“Observational studies that compared community practices supported this hope. However, this type of evidence is biased. Communities with higher masking rates are different from those with lower masking rates. For instance, communities with higher masking rates may have higher rates of working from home, social distancing and other protective practices. These differences, instead of masking, may be responsible for community infection rates.”
Bingo— as I have said, and shown many times in these pages, these are deeply flawed, and unreliable studies. Several times here, I have shown you the problems with widely cited mask studies.
“Randomized controlled trials are the evidentiary gold standard. Treatments are assigned randomly to infer their “true effect” in the population. Trials are the basis of Food and Drug Administration full approvals and are intended to provide resolution for important scientific questions.”
Yep, we have to look at the RCTs, and here is what they find…
“Fourteen of 16 trials performed before the pandemic found the recommendation to wear a mask did not significantly reduce infection rates compared to unmasked controls. Two trials on community masking have been performed during the pandemic. A trial in Denmark called DANMASK showed the recommendation to wear surgical masks did not reduce infections. A trial in Bangladesh showed reusable cloth masks did not reduce infections.”
That conclusion and reasoning is remarkably similar to our paper on this topic.
Both articles are worth your time.