The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been called out for its misleading justification of school mask mandates before. Rarely has it come from one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, such as “The Lancet.”
Two scientific researchers soft-peddle criticism of the CDC’s mask mandate claims in a new article entitled, “Revisiting Pediatric COVID-19 Cases in Counties With and Without School Mask Requirements—United States, July 1—October 20 2021.” But the results are devastating for the CDC’s support of school mask mandates.
“There has been considerable debate around mask requirements in schools in the United States and other countries during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the authors state in the abstract. “To date, there have been no randomized controlled trials of mask requirements in children. All analyses of the effectiveness of school mask mandates have relied on observational studies. The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. have released multiple observational studies suggesting that school mask mandates significantly reduce case rates. However, there have also been numerous additional US and international observational studies finding no significant effect of school mask mandates on pediatric cases.”
The researchers, Ambarish Chandra from the University of Toronto and Tracy Beth Høeg from the UC Cal-Davis, then point out their methodology of examining the CDC’s mask mandate claims.
“Our study replicates a highly cited CDC study showing a negative association between school mask mandates and pediatric SARS-CoV-2 cases,” the authors state. “We then extend the study using a larger sample of districts and a longer time interval, employing almost six times as much data as the original study. We examine the relationship between mask mandates and per-capita pediatric cases, using multiple regression to control for differences across school districts.”
Thus, the researchers are correcting for many of the most potent criticisms of the CDC’s research methods. The findings support what the critics have said all along.
“Replicating the CDC study shows similar results; however, incorporating a larger sample and longer period showed no significant relationship between mask mandates and case rates,” the authors state.
“These results persisted when using regression methods to control for differences across districts,” they added. “Interpretation: School districts that choose to mandate masks are likely to be systematically different from those that do not in multiple, often unobserved, ways. We failed to establish a relationship between school masking and pediatric cases using the same methods but a larger, more nationally diverse population over a longer interval. Our study demonstrates that observational studies of interventions with small to moderate effect sizes are prone to bias caused by selection and omitted variables. Randomized studies can more reliably inform public health policy.”
The conclusions are unmistakable: The CDC cherry-picked data to support its mask mandates. When you expand the datasets, you find that there is no statistically significant relationship between mask mandates and lower case rates, regardless of arguments about purported efficacy.
The CDC was also selectively biased in the time periods it chose, which skewed its results. Furthermore, the lack of randomized controlled studies was another warning sign the CDC was issuing potentially harmful guidance based on shoddy science.
In December, Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, pushed a study that purportedly showed the benefits of masks and vaccinations in “preventing Covid-19 outbreaks in schools.” (The CDC director in August had admitted that vaccines cannot be relied upon to stop the spread of Covid-19. Harvard researchers later found that vaccines effectively do nothing to stop the spread of Covid-19.)
— Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH (@CDCDirector) September 28, 2021
In April 2021, Damian D. Guerra, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Louisville, and co-author Daniel J. Guerra, of VerEvMed, “hypothesized that statewide mask mandates and mask use are associated with lower COVID-19 case growth rates.” They discovered that their hypothesis was wrong.
“Contrary to our hypothesis, early mandates were not associated with lower minimum case growth,” the authors found. “Maximum case growth was the same among states with early, late, and no mandates. This indicates that mask mandates were not predictive of slower COVID-19 spread when community transmission rates were low or high.”
In March, new emails were uncovered providing further evidence that the CDC issued its school mask mandate guidance based on politically driven complaints from teacher’s unions, rather than based on sound science. America’s schoolchildren are the ones who paid the price.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.