Those who advise, sometime with the threat of jail time, that everyone use masks as a palliative against the coronavirus are usually the same who proclaim that we should follow the science. Well, when it comes to masks and the current pandemic there isn’t much science. The Annals of Internal Medicine has just published Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers.
As the paper is not behind a paywall, I’ve placed it at the bottom of this post. A total of 3030 participants were randomly assigned to the recommendation to wear masks, and 2994 were assigned to control; 4862 completed the study. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 42 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53 control participants (2.1%). The between-group difference was −0.3 percentage point (95% CI, −1.2 to 0.4 percentage point; P = 0.38) (odds ratio, 0.82 [CI, 0.54 to 1.23]; P = 0.33). Thus, the study shows no beneficial (or harmful) effect of wearing masks. There was no assessment of whether masks could decrease disease transmission from mask wearers to others. So that issue is still unsettled. But the scientific benefit of mask wearing is still an unsettled issue.
The next time someone advised you to follow the science ask them to point out the trail. There’s nothing scientific about politics and their practitioners need to control. The beneficial use of masks in this pandemic is an assumption not yet based on a solid scientific study. It may turn out to be correct, but it’s not yet science.