White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha acknowledged last week what many doctors and scientists have been saying since the start of the COVID pandemic: that “no study … shows that masks work that well” to stop the spread of virus infection.
Jha appeared last week, along with Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole on “The Future of COVID and Public Health,” sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The two public health officials joined Inquirer health reporter Jason Laughlin and Health Editor Letitia Stein “to discuss the White House’s COVID strategy for 2023, how the pandemic changed public health, and what challenges public health faces in the year ahead,” read the description of the media event.
The White House COVID czar discussed the most effective strategies communities could employ to reduce COVID infection:
In terms of other investments, there are a lot of dollars that came out of the American Rescue Plan given to cities and states for investments in improving of indoor air quality. I actually think this is probably the most important long-term thing we can be doing for schools, for office buildings, for nursing homes. Indoor air quality is sort of – just not gotten the level of attention it deserves. You know, most experts believe that if we make some basic investments in indoor air quality, we can reduce, in fact, all respiratory infections by 30 or 60, or even 80%. I mean, the notion that you could cut respiratory infections – there is no study in the world that shows masks work that well. So, you’re never going to get the kind of benefit from mandatory year-round masking, as you would from making substantial improvements in indoor air quality, plus it’s a lot easier to implement as well. So, this is an area where we’re doing a lot and trying to really encourage people to use the resources they have to make those investments and start really improving ventilation filtration.
Jha continues to advocate for COVID mRNA shots, asserting the jabs are “still saving lives and saving our healthcare system money.”
COVID vaccines have prevented
18 million hospitalizations
3 million deaths
Over a $1 trillion in healthcare costs
That's the conclusion of a new analysis by @Alison_Galvani from @YaleSPH
But here's the key part — the part that wasn't inevitable
— Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@AshishKJha46) December 14, 2022
Some journalists voiced their disapproval of Jha’s admission that masks are ineffective in stopping the spread of COVID.
Wow. The White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator told @PhillyInquirer journalists that "there is no study in the world that shows that masks work that well."
This is wrong, and dangerous misinformation @AshishKJha46. You need to retract your statement and issue a correction. pic.twitter.com/WBhsYIpOD2
— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) December 20, 2022
“This is wrong, and dangerous misinformation @AshishKJha46,” said Twitter user Dr. Lucky Tran in a thread condemning his assertion that masks are useless to prevent COVID infection. “You need to retract your statement and issue a correction.”
“The reason the White House wants to downplay masks and say all we need is indoor air quality infrastructure is because they want to get away with doing almost nothing, and push people to continue consuming and ignore harm from the pandemic,” Tran continued, citing a poll he says shows most people, especially in “communities of color,” support mask mandates.
Jha’s words regarding the ineffectiveness of masks came as Philadelphia Public Schools officials announced last week it would require masks to be worn again in all classrooms and hallways of K-12 schools in January for 10 days, from January 3 through January 13, 2023.
The decision in the school district was made following recent mask recommendations in New York City, Los Angeles, and the state of Washington, supposedly to protect against transmission of the spread of infection.
During a call with CNBC and other reporters earlier this month, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky recommended wearing a mask again.
Walensky said wearing a mask is one of several everyday precautions people can take to reduce the spread of a respiratory virus during the holiday season.
“We also encourage you to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses,” Walensky said.
In December 2021, epidemiologist and Brownstone Institute Fellow Dr. Paul Elias Alexander published a compilation of more than 170 comparative studies and articles on COVID “mask ineffectiveness and harms.”
“To date, the evidence has been stable and clear that masks do not work to control the virus and they can be harmful and especially to children,” Alexander wrote.
Earlier this month, Ian Miller, author of Unmasked: The Global Failure of COVID Mask Mandates, wrote in his Substack column, republished at the Brownstone Institute, that “not even N95 masks work to stop COVID.”
One “oft-repeated assertion” of “COVID-obsessed politicians and public health authorities,” he explained, is that “the failure of universal masking can be explained by the type of masks being used by the public.”
Miller recalled for his readers that both CDC and Fauci “explicitly claimed that wearing anything to cover your face would be effective at preventing transmission:
Fauci specifically said that “cloth coverings work,” not just surgical or N95s. Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams famously suggested that rolling up a t-shirt in front of your face would be effective protection.
Yet public health departments and the media are now highlighting the importance of “high quality,” “well-fitted” masks.
“Their desperation to justify masking has led to remarkably poor studies being released to support their anti-science messaging,” Miller wrote. “There is new research that has been released showing that masks are ineffective, regardless of type. And it’s not just new research, it’s high quality research.”
Industrial hygienist, safety professional, and engineer Stephen Petty, a forensic expert in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), has devoted his “Petty Podcast” to the ineffectiveness of masks for COVID.
In the video above, published at The New American in July, Petty explained why neither surgical masks nor N95 respirators are effective in protecting people from COVID.
So irritating to see non-SME such as physicians being interviewed by media again stating masks will stop flu transmission when RCTs show over and over this is not the case. Has anyone ever seen an Industrial Hygienist interviewed on this topic?
— pettypodcast (@pettypodcast1) November 29, 2022
In a tweet from his Petty Podcast account in November, the expert also noted media are interviewing physicians who claim “masks will stop flu transmission,” though “RCTs [random controlled trials] show over and over this is not the case.”
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].