The Atlantic Investigates CDC’s Latest Mask Claims

I heard this on the radio… I do not know which show, but I read about it shortly thereafter at TOWNHALL; it deals with the new favorite study cited by the CDC showing masks prevent spread among children. The CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, even double downed on the mask study from Arizona — even though the ATLANTIC (“The CDC’s Flawed Case for Wearing Masks in School”) trashed it:

When the Director mentions studies in other countries… she is referring to the Bangladesh study, but that will be dealt with momentarily. Here is an excerpt from TOWNHALL’S article:

The Atlantic called out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for some of the data it relied upon to  push its case for masking in schools, arguing the agency’s position is “based on very shaky science.”

“Scientists generally agree that, according to the research literature, wearing masks can help protect people from the coronavirus, but the precise extent of that protection, particularly in schools, remains unknown—and it might be very small,” author David Zweig argued. 

The data that currently exists has led to a wide array of position on masking children in schools, Zweig pointed out—from the World Health Organization being against the masking of kids under the age of 6 to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also opposed to masking children in primary school. The CDC, however, forces masks upon children as young as 2.

To help make this case, CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy in September touted a study based on Arizona public schools claiming that those without a mask mandate were 3.5 times as likely to have an outbreak of Covid-19 than those that forced masking. Walensky repeated the study’s claim in multiple settings in the weeks and months afterwards.

But the Arizona study at the center of the CDC’s back-to-school blitz turns out to have been profoundly misleading. “You can’t learn anything about the effects of school mask mandates from this study,” Jonathan Ketcham, a public-health economist at Arizona State University, told me. His view echoed the assessment of eight other experts who reviewed the research, and with whom I spoke for this article. Masks may well help prevent the spread of COVID, some of these experts told me, and there may well be contexts in which they should be required in schools. But the data being touted by the CDC—which showed a dramatic more-than-tripling of risk for unmasked students—ought to be excluded from this debate. The Arizona study’s lead authors stand by their work, and so does the CDC. But the critics were forthright in their harsh assessments. Noah Haber, an interdisciplinary scientist and a co-author of a systematic review of COVID-19 mitigation policies, called the research “so unreliable that it probably should not have been entered into the public discourse.”

This is not the only study cited by Walensky in support of masking students, but it’s among the most important, having been deployed repeatedly to justify a policy affecting millions of children—and having been widely covered in the press. The agency’s decision to trumpet the study’s dubious findings, and subsequent lack of transparency, raise questions about its commitment to science-guided policy. (The Atlantic)

After detailing the numerous issues with the study, Zweig said the government continuing to tout it is “especially demoralizing.”

“How did research with so many obvious flaws make its way through all the layers of internal technical review? And why was it promoted so aggressively by the agency’s director?” he wondered. 

Not surprisingly, Walensky’s office declined to comment……

Other sites likewise write on this unraveling of a study founded not in science but in pseudo-science:

  • The Study That Convinced the CDC To Support Mask Mandates in Schools Is Junk Science (REASON)
  • Atlantic: Study On School Masking Promoted By The CDC Is ‘Unreliable’ (HOT AIR)
  • Walensky’s Junk Science On Masks And Other Commentary (NEW YORK POST)

The other study relied upon to push masks, despite there being well over “150 Comparative Studies and Articles on Mask Ineffectiveness and Harms“, is one cited a couple months back that I already dealt with a bit — but will repost some information on it here as it is related.

….The data suggests that the elderly benefit from community masking, and the elderly are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. But while the results were statistically significant, they were fairly limited. The study found just a 0.7% absolute decrease in COVID-19 symptoms in the cloth mask villages, and a 1.1% absolute decrease in the surgical mask villages.

[….]

The study also provided no insight into the question of masking for children. Children under age 12 remain the only population in the U.S. unable to get vaccinated, and whether or not to mandate masks in schools is the primary debate happening currently with regard to masking. The data suggests that masking kids may marginally benefit the adults around them, who have by now chosen whether or not to get vaccinated, but says nothing as to whether masking will benefit the kids themselves in a significant way.

Critics of the study also pointed out that, based on the 95% confidence intervals reported, it’s possible the cloth masks had zero effect. 

The study shows that community masking helps slow the spread of COVID-19 by a relatively small amount among the elderly in a community with little-to-no vaccinated people. In the U.S., where most adults are vaccinated, and the most vulnerable were prioritized for vaccination and other mitigation efforts are available (ventilation, more advanced medical care, etc.), the meaning is less clear.

(DAILY CALLER)

And of course we can’t forget the Director’s completely false statement about masks being 80% affective (see LIFESITE):

And a Michigan study of schools that had mask rules and those schools that required no masking was also devastating to the “masks help” narrative:

  • The latest reporting actually shows that schools with “few/no mask rules” had fewer 7-day average cases per 100,000 than schools where masks are required or schools with “partial mask rules.” (THE BLAZE)

IN UNRELATED NEWS


Masks are worse for the environment than Styrofoam cups!