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Letters: Misinterpreting the mask study



Re: Masks for the record P.J. Reece 

Did you read the results of the review you cited in your letter? It actually says: 

“We are uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses based on the studies we assessed.” 

and “What are the limitations of the evidence?...Relatively low numbers of people followed the guidance about wearing masks... which may have affected the results of the studies.” 

And in fact, Cochrane Review has clarified the results of their analysis. 

This is from the New York Times on March 10, “Here’s Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work”: 

“Many commentators have claimed that a recently updated Cochrane review shows that ‘masks don’t work,” which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation, Karla Soares-Weiser, the editor in chief of the Cochrane Library, said. 

“The review examined whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses,” Soares-Weiser said. “Given the limitations in the primary evidence, the review is not able to address the question of whether mask wearing itself reduces people’s risk of contracting or spreading respiratory viruses.” 

She said that “this wording was open to misinterpretation,...” and that Cochrane would revise the summary. 

Soares-Weiser also said, one of the lead authors of the review even more seriously misinterpreted its finding on masks by saying in an interview that it proved “there is just no evidence that they make any difference.” In fact, Soares-Weiser said, “that statement is not an accurate representation of what the review found.” 

I suggest you have a look at web sites such as (American Council of Science and Health - promoting science and debunking junk since 1978) and (Office for Science and Society) to give some nuance to the stuff you can find on YouTube. 

S. Cloherty 


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