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September 16, 2021

Masking the Truth About Masks

A Stanford professor and prominent COVID policy critic is targeted for thoughtcrime.

You can’t say that.

That’s the mantra of leftists everywhere these days, from Leftmedia “fact-checkers” to Big Tech censors to academia, and it’s true of any number of taboo topics. Reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, you can’t deviate from The Party on race, election fraud, and especially the coronavirus.

The latter is the focus here, and specifically the efficacy of masks. More on that in a minute.

Last fall, prominent medical academics Dr. Martin Kulldorff (Harvard), Dr. Sunetra Gupta (Oxford), and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford) teamed up to draft the Great Barrington Declaration. Its purpose was to rebut the groupthink about lockdowns and herd immunity. The gist of their argument was that locking down was ultimately a harmful policy because it delayed herd immunity rather than getting us to it faster and thus bringing an end to this cursed pandemic.

Yet because this has been deemed by The Party to be thoughtcrime, here we are nearly a year and multiple vaccines later, and people are still locking things down.

The other thing that’s made a roaring comeback is masking mandates. Yet Stanford’s Dr. Bhattacharya has continued the annoying habit of asking basic scientific questions about whether this policy works and makes sense. He concluded, specifically regarding masks in schools, “There is no high-quality evidence to support the assertion that masks stop the disease from spreading.” And he’s right, no matter what The Party says.

For that, he’s being smeared at Stanford because he deviated from The Party. His peers are seeking not just to mask but to muzzle him. Stanford must “clarify for the faculty the limits of public pronouncements when proclaiming on public health policy,” insists Professor Melissa Bondy, chair of the epidemiology department.

Bhattacharya’s Barrington pal, Dr. Kulldorff, came to his defense. Kulldorff and coauthor Carl Heneghan, an Oxford epidemiologist, write, “To deserve trust, scientists must be honest about what is and what is not known, and we agree with Bhattacharya.” They elaborate with pesky facts:

Randomized trials provide the best available research evidence to inform health-care decisions and are considered the gold standard for determining intervention effects. But no randomized studies have shown that masks in children are effective. Instead, there are observational studies of uneven quality that reach conflicting conclusions. …

While adults differ from children, there have been two randomized COVID studies evaluating masks on adults. Based on the 95 percent confidence intervals, surgical mask wearers in Denmark were between 23 percent more likely and 46 percent less likely to be infected by COVID.

In a Bangladesh study, surgical masks reduced symptomatic COVID infections by between 0 and 22 percent, while the efficacy of cloth masks led to somewhere between an 11 percent increase to a 21 percent decrease. Hence, based on these randomized studies, adult masks appear to have either no or limited efficacy.

Don’t trust this science or these academics? What about former Biden administration COVID adviser Michael Osterholm? He said last month, “We know today that many of the face cloth coverings that people wear are not very effective in reducing any of the virus movement in or out.” That was about the same time the Biden administration decided it’s a “civil right” to force kids to wear masks in school.

Before COVID was thoroughly politicized, the all-knowing Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus.” And, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”

As for Bhattacharya, he has already shown that he’s willing to keep speaking inconvenient truths, but what will the effort to regulate speech at Stanford or other universities do for other faculty members? Is speaking out anyway worth a reprimand or job loss? The thought police do their jobs all too well.

In the meantime, millions of Americans — including those least at risk, school children — continue to be made to wear ineffective masks in various settings. This is despite the science on masking, despite the aggravation and educational hindrance of masking, and despite the fact that millions of Americans are bringing us closer to herd immunity through vaccination or that other unmentionable, natural immunity.

When will reason trump fear? Not anytime soon, so long as The Party controls the messaging.

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