A new peer-reviewed study has found that child masking efforts have had no positive effects and only caused harm to children.
A new systematic review has been published in the peer-reviewed Archives of Disease in Childhood, one of the journals of the world-renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The study was conducted by Sandlund et al. and titled “Child mask mandates for COVID-19: a systematic review.”
Since no randomized controlled trials have even been conducted on child mask-wearing or mask mandates, the authors systematically reviewed observational studies.
The researchers included 22 observational studies in the final analysis.
Six of those studies found child mask mandates were associated with lower rates of infection.
However, the other 16 studies didn’t.
But the studies that found they didn’t weren’t just greater in quantity; they were higher quality too.
The researchers wrote in their paper:
Of the six studies reporting a significant negative correlation between masking and COVID-19 cases, five had critical and one had serious ROB [risk of bias].
Of the 16 studies failing to find a significant correlation, one (6.3%) had critical, 10 (62.5%) had serious, five (31.3%) had moderate and none had low ROB.
In short, almost all studies with critical ROB had pro-mask results.
Meanwhile, all studies with moderate ROB found that masks had no benefits.
Table 2 below gives a breakdown of the various types of bias the reviewers found.
The six studies with pro-mask results are listed first.
The researchers explain:
All six studies reporting a negative association were potentially confounded by crucial differences between masked and unmasked groups, including the number of instructional school days, differences in school size, systematic baseline differences in case rates in all phases of the pandemic, testing policies, contact-tracing policy differences and teacher vaccination rates.
Almost all these confounds seem to apply to the worst of the bunch, Jehn et al.
That study found “the odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak in schools without a mask requirement were 3.5 times higher than those in schools with an early mask requirement.”
Unfortunately, this study was such low quality that even pro-maskers interviewed by the Atlantic said it was embarrassing.
Among its many problems was that even though the study period was July 15 to August 31, 2021.
“Some [schools] didn’t begin class until August 10th; others were open from July 19th or July 21st,” the researchers wrote.
“That means students in the latter group of schools had twice as much time — six weeks instead of three weeks — in which to develop a Covid outbreak.”
No wonder the researchers didn’t want to share the raw data.
That study was published in the U.S. CDC’s in-house propaganda publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
However, even prestigious peer-review journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) have published similar low-quality studies by pro-mask scientists who gerrymandered results through a conveniently selected study design, as Sandlund et al. explain:
The Boston observational study [Cowger et al.] stated they could infer causality between lifting school mask mandates and increases in student and staff cases by using a difference-in-differences technique.
However, a subsequent reanalysis called the methodology and results of this study into question and failed to find the same association when expanding the population to include the entire state or using different statistical analysis and also found the initial study’s results were likely confounded by differences in prior infection rates.
Interestingly, while all of the pro-mask studies with a critical risk of bias were done in North America (five in the U.S. and one in Canada), most of the studies with the lowest risk of bias were done in Europe.
The researchers note:
In a Spanish study of almost 600 000 children, the researchers did not find a significant difference in cases between unmasked five-year-olds and masked six-year-olds; instead, case rates correlated closely with the age of children, which was also observed in another Spanish study. …
A lack of significant association between masking children and risk of COVID-19 was also reported by the U.K. Department of Education. …
A Finnish study compared case rates in children with and without mask mandates in 10-12 year-olds, and the authors found no reduction in COVID-19 case rates when mask recommendations were extended to include 10-12 year olds.
All this means that Sandlund et al. come to the inevitable conclusion that “real-world effectiveness of child mask mandates against SARS-CoV-2 transmission or infection has not been demonstrated with high-quality evidence.”
However, the issue of child mask mandates isn’t just about mask effectiveness.
The issue also relates to potential harms, such as negative effects on language learning and communication.
Mask-wearing causes reduced word identification and impedes the ability to teach and evaluate speech, the study notes.
There is a link between observation of the mouth and language processing, and people of all ages continue to focus on the mouth when listening to non-native speech.
Masks may also have negative psychological effects on children, the study warns:
There is also evidence that masks hinder social-emotional learning and language/literacy development in young children.
Children with special-education needs and autism may be disproportionately impacted by mask requirements as they rely heavily on facial expressions to pick up social cues.
Misinterpretation of facial expressions increases anxiety and depression in individuals.
School environments with mask mandates were also found to have increased anxiety levels compared to those without mandates.
Additionally, the physiological effects of masks may be worse for children than adults.
In addition, mask wearing has been associated with physiological harm — many of which are more frequently reported in children than in adults — which may have multiple negative downstream effects, including reduced time and intensity of exercise, additional sick days, reduced learning capacity, and increased anxiety.
Masking has also been found to lead to rapid increase in CO2 content in inhaled air — higher in children than in adults — and to levels above acceptable safety standards for healthy adult workers, which may rise further with physical exertion.
The findings lead to a simple cost-benefit analysis of child mask mandates:
- Costs: Potential language learning and communication issues, worse psychological well-being, and negative physiological effects.
- Benefits: None
In conclusion, Sandlund et al. recommend that “Adults who work with children should be educated about the lack of clear benefits and the potential harms of masking children.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends masking children as young as two to “prevent Covid.”