A study touted by federal officials to require wearing masks in schools is complete garbage, experts say. Whether masks are helpful or not, the study was so badly designed that it proved absolutely nothing.
In September, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, peddled the results of a study that seemed to show the need for mask mandates in schools. The study was done this summer in Arizona, and found that schools in counties without mask mandates had 3.5 times more outbreaks than schools in counties with mask mandates.
That finding should have raised eyebrows, said The Atlantic‘s David Zweig. “A number of the experts interviewed for this article said the size of the effect should have caused everyone involved in preparing, publishing, and publicizing the paper to tap the brakes,” he wrote in a new article that explores the study’s significant flaws. “Instead, they hit the gas.”
Zweig’s article in The Atlantic explains in detail why the study’s results are suspect, and how “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….the data being touted by the CDC…ought to be excluded from this debate…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.”
As Reason Magazine’s Robby Soave notes, there were many problems with the study: “Many of the schools that comprise its data set weren’t even open at the time the study was completed; it counted outbreaks instead of cases; it did not control for vaccination status; it included schools that didn’t fit the criteria. For these and other reasons, Zweig argues that the study ought to be ignored entirely: Masking in schools may or may not be a good idea, but this study doesn’t help answer the question. Any public official—including and especially Walensky—who purports to follow the science should toss this one in the trash.”
If masks don’t do much to prevent transmission of COVID-19, what does? Vaccines help, although more to prevent severe cases of the coronavirus, than to prevent people from getting it at all (many vaccinated people have come down with mild cases, but vaccination reduces the rate of death or hospitalization from the coronavirus).
The CDC now recommends the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines rather than the Johnson & Johnson shot, due to the rare blood-clotting complications associated with with the Johnson & Johnson shot. According to Fox Business:
Regulators eventually decided that the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine outweighed the risks, but the FDA released new data this week showing that more cases have occurred in the summer and fall.
Women between the ages of 30 and 49 are most affected by the blood clotting issue at a rate of about 1 in 100,000 shots.
Health officials have confirmed 54 cases of the blood clots, nine of which have been fatal, CDC official Dr. Isaac See said Thursday. Two more deaths are suspected to be related to the blood clotting issue.
As Soave notes, “The J&J shot doesn’t seem to provide much protection against the now-surging omicron variant, in any case.”