Masks don’t stop COVID-19 spread, peer-reviewed study finds

Masks don’t stop COVID-19 spread, peer-reviewed study finds

A major study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine last week found no statistically significant difference in COVID-19 cases between mask-wearers and non-mask-wearers. 

The Danish randomized controlled trial was the first in the world to test for the efficacy of face masks to prevent wearers from contracting the coronavirus. 

1.8% of those who were asked to wear masks were infected with the virus according to antibody testing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), or hospital diagnosis, while 2.1% of the control group tested positive.

4,862 Danes spent “more than 3 hours per day outside the home” every day for a month to successfully complete the trial. 

Authors of the study deemed the 0.3% discrepancy “not statistically significant.”

Lead researcher on the study Thomas Lars Benfield lamented the rejection of the study by the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA because, according to Danish Newspaper Berlingske, the results were not politically correct. 

Asked when the study, which was ready for publication a month ago, would be published, Benfield responded: “As soon as a journal is brave enough.” 

Dr. Christine Laine is the editor-in-chief of Annals of Internal Medicine. She chose to take the study on because it was “the only randomized control trial of masks for SARS-CoV-2 infection that has been done to date” and answered the specific question of whether or not masks protect wearers in areas with low infection rates and high levels of physical distancing. 

While the Danish study is the first of its kind, further evidence against mandating masks continues to mount. 

The New England Journal of Medicine editorial on the topic of mask use versus COVID-19 assesses the matter as follows:

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.  Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 20 minutes).  The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal.  In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

A rapid review from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health also found statistical insignificance in its modelling when deciding how to advise the Norwegian government on its COVID-19 response:

Given the low prevalence of COVID-19 currently, even if facemasks are assumed to be effective, the difference in infection rates between using facemasks and not using facemasks would be small. Assuming that 20% of people infectious with SARS-CoV-2 do not have symptoms, and assuming a risk reduction of 40% for wearing facemask, 200 000 people would need to wear facemasks to prevent one new infection per week in the current epidemiological situation.

Then of course there is the most common-sense argument: that the SARS Cov-2 virus is between 0.06 – 0.14 microns in diameter, while the pores on the best surgical masks cannot filter out particles smaller than 0.3 microns in diameter.