The COVID-19 pandemic is “nowhere near over”, warns WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as he urges governments to reintroduce measures like face masks to “push back” against a rise in global Covid infections. GB News has more.
In a speech at a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday, the Director-General emphasised his “concern” over rising coronavirus cases, stating “further pressure” is being burdened on “health systems and health workers”.
Commending the progress governments have made globally in tackling the pandemic, the WHO Director-General said: “Of course, there’s been a lot of progress. We have safe and effective tools that prevent infections, hospitalisations and deaths. However, we should not take them for granted.”
Noting the recent spike in hospitalisations of patients with coronavirus, he urged governments to “deploy tried and tested measures like masking, improved ventilation and test and treat protocols”.
The WHO’s emergency committee on the pandemic met on Friday via video-conference and determined the pandemic remains a matter of Public Health Emergency of International concern, the highest alarm the WHO can issue.
Acknowledging several “interlinked challenges” the committee stated how reduced testing made it increasingly difficult to monitor the spread of variants and how measures are reducing these.
He encouraged governments to “review and adjust” their COVID-19 protocol and response plans, in accordance with current epidemiology.
Prior to summer 2020, health authorities including the WHO were rightly clear that face masks are ineffective for preventing the transmission of airborne viruses like SARS-CoV-2. However, while the WHO, for whatever reason, got swept along with the prevailing pro-mask sentiment, the evidence hasn’t changed. For instance:
- The Cato Institute published a working paper in November 2021 reviewing the evidence for face masks to prevent the spread of Covid. Entitled “Evidence for Community Cloth Face Masking to Limit the Spread of SARS‐CoV‑2: A Critical Review“, it concluded that: “More than a century after the 1918 influenza pandemic, examination of the efficacy of masks has produced a large volume of mostly low- to moderate-quality evidence that has largely failed to demonstrate their value in most settings.”
- The CDC published a study claiming to show face masks worked. However, when researchers attempted to replicate the study they found that the findings only held for the particular sample and time period the CDC used, whereas “incorporating a larger sample and longer period showed no significant relationship between mask mandates and case rates”.
- The Danmask-19 randomised controlled trial (RCT) found that surgical masks provided no significant protection for the wearer from COVID-19 infection. An RCT published in autumn 2020, concluded surgical masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection”. The Bangladeshi RCT found cloth masks made no impact on infections while surgical masks were associated with just a relative 11% drop in infections, with a 95% confidence interval that included zero (indicating lack of statistical significance); the intervention was also accompanied by other awareness raising measures.
- A study (pre-print) on two adjacent school districts in Fargo, North Dakota, one which had a mask mandate and one which did not in the autumn of the 2021-2022 academic year, found “no significant difference between student case rates while the districts had differing masking policies nor while they had the same mask policies”.
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