Letter: What the mask study really said

Graphic by Lori Deaton

A letter to the editor published online April 1 could be cast as “April Fools!” if the topic were less serious [“With Latest Mask Study, a Hope for Respect,” March 29, Xpress].

The writer repeated misinformation about masking based on a misinformed New York Times op-ed regarding a review published by the prestigious Cochrane Library. She stated that the report concluded that masking made no difference in the spread of COVID-19, She overlooked the immediate correction published by Cochrane [avl.mx/prx9].

Their review did not show that masking didn’t work. It showed that encouraging people to mask didn’t help. At the same time, in the largest of the studies reviewed, including some 360,000 people, in the cities/regions where there was the most compliance in masking, the spread of COVID was significantly reduced [avl.mx/clu].

That is exactly the opposite of what mask opponents want us to believe.

— Cecil Bothwell


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Letter: What the mask study really said

  1. christiana

    I wrote the following as a comment to Mr. Bothwell in my published letter. I will copy my comment here as it corrects the erroneous claims that Mr. Bothwell is making above:

    Mr. Bothwell’s comment here (and letter above) only give the political picture, not the scientific one. The Cochrane study showed that masks did not make any difference and that conclusion stands. The Cochrane editor issued a correction due to political pressure. The lead authors of the study, including Tom Jefferson, did not retract their findings. When Mr. Jefferson was contacted by substack author MaryAnne Demasi, he said “Cochrane has thrown its own researchers under the bus again. The apology issued by Cochrane is from Soares-Weiser, not from the authors of the review.” Demasi writes that many believe the editor responded to pressure because of a grant of one and a half million dollars to the organization by the Gates Foundation. This is exactly the problem that my letter addressed.

    Mr. Jefferson and his colleagues looked at 78 randomised trials with over 610,000 participants. Mr Bothwell refers to the Bangladesh study, one of the 78 trials that the scientists reviewed. In an interview with Demasi, Mr Jefferson said that the Bangladesh study was not about whether masks worked but about “increasing compliance for wearing a mask.” Also, there was a reanalysis of the Bangladeshi study which showed significant bias.

    My point is highlighted by Mr. Bothwell’s comment. Citing one study without knowing the scientific history of studies on masks – and viruses, for that matter – can lead to politicians and others forcing policy based on insufficient and very flawed conclusions. This is a devastation of freedom. Poor science should never mask babies who need oxygen desperately for brain development, nor any other person who chooses to breath freely.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.