Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Cochrane Reviews--still no evidence for masks stopping the spread

In the first year of the pandemic Cochrane Library which identifies, appraises and synthesizes all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria, looked at all the then known evidence for stopping the spread of Covid.
"Cochrane has responded to the crisis by gathering its community, working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders, in developing and publishing several systematic reviews on the effectiveness of behavioural public health measures for reducing COVID‐19 infection.[1] These measures include masks, handwashing, physical distancing, quarantine, contact tracing, screening, and travel restrictions. Because COVID‐19 is still so new, however, these reviews have largely summarized effects on transmission of other viruses in non‐pandemic conditions. Policy makers must act on incomplete evidence in responding to COVID‐19 | Cochrane Library (November 20, 2020)
The results were inconclusive for masks, handwashing, physical distancing, quarantine, contact tracing, screening, and travel restrictions. That didn't stop policy makers from what they do best--making policy. OK, that's what Cochrane found 2.5 years ago, but the policy makers went right ahead, especially the teachers unions which appeared to be advising the CDC.

Now, Cochrance has again published its results of more current studies (although in my opinion there are too few since some researchers were "cancelled" or were prevented from studying or publishing their results if it went against policies already put in place using no evidence). Do physical measures such as hand-washing or wearing masks stop or slow down the spread of respiratory viruses? | Cochrane (January 30, 2023)
"We are uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses based on the studies we assessed. Hand hygiene programmes may help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses."
I recall writing about the mask literature in summer of 2020 at my blog and Facebook. I checked every few weeks in the medical databases for evidence that masking could stop the spread of Covid-19. I never found it, and the virus continued to spread despite masks, distancing, isolation, and vaccine/boosters. I got a lot of push back from people who knew nothing except what they'd heard from the media.

I continue to believe that masks and hand washing can reduce the spread of colds and flu by blocking the air borne molecules which transport the virus, but Covid, no. Too small to block.

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