Mainstream Media Suppresses Scientific Debate on Cochrane Meta-Analysis of Mask Efficacy

(p. A11) On Jan. 30, [2023] the Cochrane Collaboration, highly regarded for its rigorous systematic reviews, published an update of its meta-analysis of masking and other physical methods to prevent respiratory illnesses. It found no strong evidence for masking, and the initial media response was silence. After conservative media covered the study, the mainstream press went on the attack. The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Atlantic and others piled on.

As an epidemiologist, I hoped the review might dent the politicized discourse surrounding masks and other prevention measures. I sent an article to Time magazine, which had recently published my work.

. . .

Eventually the editor . . . asked for some further changes, which I readily accepted. “I think we’re set,” he wrote. “My colleague will finalize and publish.” I heard nothing from him until two weeks later, when he finally confirmed Time had decided to kill the piece.

. . .

“Follow the science,” they said throughout the pandemic. You can’t do that if you suppress scientific debate.

For the full commentary, see:

Daniel Halperin. “Media Keep Stifling the Covid Debate.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, April 1, 2023): A11.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date March 31, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

The Cochrane meta-analysis mentioned above is:

Jefferson, T., L. Dooley, E. Ferroni, L. A. Al-Ansary, M. L. van Driel, G. A. Bawazeer, M. A. Jones, T. C. Hoffmann, J. Clark, E. M. Beller, and et al. “Physical Interventions to Interrupt or Reduce the Spread of Respiratory Viruses.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Jan. 30 2023).

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