Epidemiologist and researcher Dr. Paul Alexander disagree. He says that there are over 150 studies and articles that conclude cloth and surgical masks are not effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and does more harm.
“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 in a February op-ed for The Epoch Times.
In a critical review (pdf) of cloth masks used during the pandemic, the authors stated that evidence does not support community masking with cloth masks to limit the spread of the virus.
“The available clinical evidence of facemask efficacy is of low quality and the best available clinical evidence has mostly failed to show efficacy, with fourteen of sixteen identified randomized controlled trials comparing face masks to no mask controls failing to find statistically significant benefit in the intent-to-treat populations,” the authors wrote.
“Although weak evidence should not preclude precautionary actions in the face of unprecedented events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, ethical principles require that the strength of the evidence and best estimates of amount of benefit be truthfully communicated to the public,” they added.
Prior to the pandemic, researchers conducted a small randomized controlled study in 2008 among health care workers in Japan to examine whether surgical masks reduced the incidence of the common cold.
They found that participants in the mask group “were significantly more likely to experience headache during the study period” and concluded that “face mask use in health care workers has not been demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds.”