Masking Children While Censoring Covid Information

Do children need to wear masks? That’s an important question that millions of parents want answered. Yet big tech is censoring those answers they don’t agree with.

Jay Bhattacharya, Stanford University physician and economist, writes in The Wall Street Journal his experience with both issues. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hosted a roundtable of scientists to discuss the state’s Covid policies. Don’t look for this kind of transparency from some governors, like New York’s Andrew Cuomo. DeSantis brought together Dr. Bhattacharya, Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University, Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, and Dr. Scott Atlas of Stanford University. This distinguished panel of experts discussed the effectiveness of Florida’s Covid policies in the past year including restrictions of the lives of children.

One of the topics was the wisdom of children wearing masks. The press was allowed to ask questions and a video of the event was posted on YouTube by local media. But last week YouTube removed a recording of this routine policy discussion from its website. The company claimed the panel members and Dr. Bhattacharya were trafficking in misinformation.  The company said it removed the video “because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

One has to wonder who are the experts YouTube considers more authoritative? This panel are all experts from the world’s most prestigious academic institutions. It seems clear they are not considered experts because they don’t agree with the Biden administration. It has been clear from the beginning of this administration that science would take a back seat to political agendas. (see CDC Director Caves to Politics) Big tech, like YouTube, is certainly in sync with this White House.

Dr. Bhattacharya says his reasoning regarding children wearing masks is a cost-benefit analysis. The benefits of masking children are small to none; the costs are much higher. He cites a study from Iceland conducted early in the pandemic when masking was uncommon. The study used a representative sample to track the source of Covid infections. The authors used contact-tracing methods paired with genetic sequencing analysis to establish precisely how the disease spread. Senior author of the study, Kari Stefansson, later told reporters that “even if children do get infected, they are less likely to transmit the disease to others than adults. We have not found a single instance of a child infecting parents.”

This study is consistent with others in the scientific literature. They all reach the same conclusion: Even unmasked children pose less of a risk for disease spread than adults.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study from Sweden in February where primary schools have been open for in-person instruction throughout the pandemic. No masks were required, even when cases were increasing. Of more than 1.8 million children in school, in spring 2020 ages 1 through 15, not one died from Covid-19. This study also showed that teachers were at low risk for Covid-19; they contracted the disease at rates lower than the average of other Swedish essential workers.

More importantly, the evidence is overwhelming that masking can harm children’s developmental progress. Even the World Health Organization’s guidance document on child masking says that up to age 5 masking children may harm the achievement of childhood developmental milestones. For children between 6 and 11, the same document says that mask guidance should consider the “potential impact of mask-wearing on learning and psychosocial development.” They also go on to warn that mask-wearing during exercise may impair breathing.

Dr. Bhattacharya and the panel recommends against masking of children up to age eleven. Many other doctors and scientists agree. This is important information for parents, teachers, education administrators and politicians who are making mask-wearing decisions for children. It is unconscionable that YouTube would censor such vital information.

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