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Mailbag: Policies make a joke of science

Mailbag: Policies make a joke of science

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A recently published randomized controlled trial with more than 6,000 participants found no (statistically) significant difference in COVID-19 infection rates between people who wore face masks outside their home and those who did not.

This was the case even though study participants wore high-quality surgical masks with a filtration rate of 98%. This raises a question: If high-quality surgical masks don’t offer a significant degree of protection against COVID-19 infection, how likely is it that low-quality cloth masks will offer any protection at all?

Similarly, a recently published systematic review examined 10 randomized controlled trials in a pooled-analysis and found “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.”

It’s important to note that randomized controlled trials are the gold standard for medical research. In the hierarchy of evidence, randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials form the very pinnacle of evidence.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own data corroborate the findings of these randomized controlled trials. A CDC report published in September stated the following: “In the 14 days before [COVID-19] illness onset, 71% of case-patients and 74% of control-participants reported always using cloth face coverings or other mask types when in public.” Translation: cloth face coverings or other mask types did diddly-squat to protect against COVID-19 infection.

How can we say with a straight face that science is guiding our mandatory face mask policies? These policies make a joke of science, and the joke is on us.

Luke Yamaguchi

Albany

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