Government officials were simply following the best science when they required all citizens to wear masks in public for months on end over the COVID-19 pandemic. At least that was the story we were told at regular intervals. Anyone questioning this conclusion was a science-denier and was putting their fellow citizens at risk for a deadly virus, right?

But was prescribing and requiring mask use actually following the best science? It is a question worth asking because it goes to being able to have honest, open debate about important policy and scientific issues. Something our children should learn is healthy.

Many questioned the conclusion that mask requirements were settled science. Others defended it. But a new, highly sophisticated medical research review authored by scholars at Oxford University and scores of other international medical schools answers this question with a very strong conclusion. And the strength of their conclusion will surprise many.

After examining 78 international studies looking at various aspects of mask use in multiple clinical, public- and private-life settings related to protection against the spread of viral respiratory illness, these scholars explain, “Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference” in protecting against COVID-19 and SARS-COV-2 infection “compared to not wearing masks.”

These scholars even report that the higher quality “N95/P2 respirators compared to medical/surgical masks probably made little or no difference” in personal protection against spreading such illness. Lead epidemiologist on the study, Dr. Tom Jefferson, a Senior Associate Tutor at the University of Oxford, was more blunt on the findings in a recent interview on his team’s research. He explained their new research report was an update of his team’s November 2020 review of mask effectiveness and thus, “There’s still no evidence that masks are effective during a pandemic.” In another part of the interview Jefferson stated assertively,

There is just no evidence that they make any difference. Full stop. My job, our job as a review team, was to look at the evidence, we have done that.

John Tierney, who was the New York Time’s science reporter for decades, and now writes for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, called this study’s methodology “the gold standard for analyzing this evidence” conducted by “the world’s largest and most respected organization for evaluating health interventions.” He is referring to Cochrane, a highly sophisticated research analysis collaborative that is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health as well as the governmental health agencies of additional leading nations.

Of this new report, Tierney explains,

This verdict ought to be the death knell for mask mandates, but that would require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the rest of the public-health establishment to forsake “the science”—and unfortunately, these leaders and their acolytes in the media seem as determined as ever to ignore actual science.

He is exactly right, and this is very unfortunate. Because such a position puts politics before science and can confuse citizens and our children about how science is done and the proper, healthy conclusions it comes to.

Important and consequential COVID pandemic policy was established on the claim that it was simply “following the science” and any dissenting voices were “science deniers.” But we know better now. “Science” was used for political ends.

And Dr. Jefferson explained as much in the previously cited interview, explaining that mask mandates started “when all the craziness began, when academics and politicians started jumping up and down about masks.” He adds, “We call them ‘strident campaigners. They are activists, not scientists.”

When activists say “follow the science” or “this is settled science” on things they are pushing like different definitions of family, the meaning of male and female, policies that affect our children, remember incidents like this where honest research tells a very different story.


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