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CDC Spreads Misinformation on Masking, Not Science

- AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH - Amelia Janaskie & David Waugh - FEB 7, 2022 -

Twisting the truth is our current Federal Government’s modus operandi. Look no further than White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s latest political gymnastics when she claimed, “We’ve not been pro-lockdown – most of the lockdowns actually happened under the previous President.”

While technically true (most actual lockdowns happened in America under Trump), the reality is that Biden praised pro-lockdown governors like Andrew Cuomo of NY, deified lockdown advocate Anthony Fauci as “America’s scientist,” and insisted throughout his 2020 campaign that lockdowns were necessary.

While our government officials may struggle with cognitive dissonance, Americans are taking notice as their trust in the federal government continues to plummet.

The Biden Administration aside, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) approach to the pandemic has been concerning, especially regarding its ability to offer reliable information to the public. The latest example of this trend occurs in a misleading infographic, which if taken at face value, conveys that wearing a cloth mask provides 56 percent more protection than no mask at all.

The CDC cites the results from its new study on masking, which states that “wearing a cloth mask (aOR = 0.44; 95 percent CI = 0.17–1.17) was associated with lower adjusted odds of a positive test compared with never wearing a face covering but was not statistically significant.” If one looks closely at the infographic, the hash symbol at the bottom indicates the results for cloth masks are “not statistically significant.”

Even though the CDC is technically honest in reporting this fact on the infographic, the situation still raises the question: if it admits in fine print that its infographic isn’t backed by reliable evidence, then why are they publishing it in the first place? Moreover, if the evidence suggests that wearing cloth masks has no statistically significant relationship with reducing the probability of testing positive, then why does the CDC continue to say we should use them?

Vinay Prasad, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, echoes this sentiment, scrutinizing the rigor of the study itself. According to Prasad, there are multiple issues with how the researchers conducted the survey, including significant response and selection bias. In a Cato working paper, Prasad, along with other researchers, highlights the main concern with broadcasting flawed research:

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 [should] be truthfully communicated to the public.

Unfortunately, this behavior is typical for the CDC, which has debased itself to the level of partisan media outlets that spin the results of medical studies. Admitting that cloth masks don’t reduce the odds of testing positive would disrupt its existing narrative and result in political uproar against the CDC from the public and other highly influential groups, such as the Biden Administration and teachers unions.

Relenting on its stance will further erode the CDC’s recommendation for universal masking in schools, enraging teachers unions, who we know influenced its school mask guidance. Despite the growing evidence against masks, the CDC is intent on maintaining its position on school masking.

Power Grabs and Misinformation

According to its official mission, the CDC “serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and health education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.” Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been many cases in which the CDC stepped outside its mission.


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