The CDC's journal MMWR does not adhere to scientific standards; Instead, is state propaganda: An analysis of masking studies in MMWR
Our new research paper is out now
The CDC director Mandy Cohen is talking about rebuilding trust, but she should look in the mirror. During the pandemic, the CDC’s own journal MMWR published numerous studies on masking— all of which were of poor quality, and most of which reached false conclusions to support preconceived policy goals. We examine these studies in our new paper.
First, MMWR published 0 randomized trials. Randomized trials are the best way to test if an intervention works, and there have been DOZENS for masking in varied settngs, even during COVID19, yet MMWR officially published 0. Wow!
You may think that is forgivable b/c they can’t control what gets submitted, but they can control it! The CDC has a massive budget and could run the studies and publish it in their own journal. They chose not to.
Next, Only 15% of these studies reached nominal statistical significance. Typically, in science if you don’t reach this threshold you can’t make claims, but that didn’t stop the MMWR authors as 77% concluded masks were effective!
Meanwhile, a proper review of masking by Jefferson and colleagues for Cochrane finds no evidence to support community masking; Specifically, no evidence this strategy is effective in the short term.
But the CDC’s policy is no longer short term. It continues to recommend masking in select circumstances. This idea: that people should wear masks for years on end— literally 3+ years, with no end in sight, in indoor public settings (at times of high spread) has never been tested and would have been considered just a few years ago as insane.
No scientist would think that such a behavioral intervention could be sustained indefinitely, and the endpoint of such a strategy is entire unclear. Is it fewer lifetime respiratory viral infections? And how do we quantify the harms of loss of human interaction? CDC has made no attempt to answer these scientific questions, instead clinging to empty slogans like #maskswork.
The CDC did not commission or conduct appropriate mask studies. Instead, its 40,000 work from home employees performed only low credibility studies. Its’ journal published studies that often failed to reach significance, yet were ‘spun’ towards the pre-ordained conclusion.
MMWR is not a scientific outlet; it is propaganda put forth by an agency to justify its policy decisions, which appear largely dictated by fear and partisan politics rather than science.
If Mandy Cohen wants to rebuild trust, she will start by revamping MMWR.
A copy of the PDF is here for subscribers (Consider subscribing— it keeps this going)