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The Scandal of Masking Children

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The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is considered the gold standard of scholarship in medical science. It has played an outsized role in these terrible times. It’s been too silent on the carnage of lockdowns. But two days ago, it published an article raising fundamental questions about one of the great scandals of the last year, namely, the forced masking of children who are at near-zero risk for Covid-19. Final conclusion: stop it. 

Maybe you share my sense of psychological shock at seeing young children in masks during this last year. At the mall. At airports. In the grocery store. Kids in strollers. I kept asking myself: “How in the heck can adults do this to children?” The answer is even more scandalous: it’s what governments required, and the CDC advised. Adults who did not do this faced eviction and fines. We’ve seen the videos of families with young children being kicked off airplanes because a two-year-old wouldn’t put one on. 

After the vaccine came along, the CDC justified the pulling back on mask mandates for the general public on grounds that they are not needed for people who get the jab. The idea was to reward people for their vaccine compliance. But there is no vaxx available for kids and hence the appalling reality everywhere of maskless adults and masked-up kids. Even though the risk from Covid is exactly the opposite. 

This preposterous situation cried out for some resolution. JAMA has provided it. 

The article in question is “Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” What the researchers did was very simple. They took 45 kids and put them in two types of masks for three minutes. In both cases, researchers discovered elevated carbon dioxide levels in their breathing – up to six times what is considered acceptable. which is to say they were being deprived of oxygen. 

“This is because of the dead-space volume of the masks,” write the authors, “which collects exhaled carbon dioxide quickly after a short time. This carbon dioxide mixes with fresh air and elevates the carbon dioxide content of inhaled air under the mask, and this was more pronounced in this study for younger children.” The exposure was “higher than what is already deemed unacceptable.”

Conclusion: There is “ample evidence for adverse effects of wearing such masks. We suggest that decision-makers weigh the hard evidence produced by these experimental measurements accordingly, which suggest that children should not be forced to wear face masks.”

That the journal published it at all became a controversy on Twitter. I take it as a sign that establishment science is gradually trying to straighten itself out after a disastrous year. I am slightly optimistic that with the return of quasi-normalcy, these journals will become more liberal in publishing actual science instead of pushing propaganda or ignoring scandalous realities altogether. 

But I might be speaking too soon. Lockdowners seem to be attempting to warm people up again to re-masking. The WHO is once again recommending masks for everyone, while the New York Times is testing new messaging that maybe you need a cloth on your face in light of the Delta variant. The problem at this point is that the credibility of media and all things “science” has suffered a huge blow. 

Over the last 16 months, every manner of despotism has been justified in the name of science. People went along for a while. But when life itself went into a full-scale upheaval over a respiratory virus with a precise demographic of risk known since February 2020,, incredulity was unleashed among the public. And for very good reason. The masking of kids — even all day in the schools that were allowed to reopen —  was the most conspicuous sign that something had gone very wrong. 

We don’t really need JAMA to tell us that plugging up a child’s ability to breathe freely is a bad idea. You only need good sense and a slight capacity for empathetic compassion, a trait in short supply among policy makers these days. 

How precisely all this happened to us will be debated for years, decades even. Nearly overnight, we went from thinking more-or-less rationally to believing the utterly insane. 

Even as late as February 25, 2020, even Anthony Fauci was still making sense. “You cannot avoid having infections since you cannot shut off the country from the rest of the world,” he wrote CBS News. “Do not let the fear of the unknown… distort your evaluation of the risk of the pandemic to you relative to the risks that you face every day… do not yield to unreasonable fear.”

Two days later, with no change in the demographic data, Fauci began to push panic and lockdowns. In time, dissidents were censored all over social media. Doctors and scientists who raised doubts have been de-platformed and smeared. Scientific journals seemed to acquiesce, carefully selecting what sees the light of day, based in part on whether and to what extent the findings fit with political trends. 

Then by August 2020, Fauci posted his real agenda in the journal Cell. He demands the “Rebuilding the infrastructures of human existence.” He describes “Sports venues, bars, restaurants, beaches, airports” as dangerous places of disease spread and nothing more, and even cast opprobrium on “human geographic movement.” Which is to say that he wants to dismantle the free society. 

My scientist friends have been extremely worried about the future. Science has enjoyed a nearly impeccable reputation for most of the modern period. It is a scandal to abuse that reputation to enact an overtly political agenda that targets freedom and civilization. 

How can science recover from a time in which the process, research, and basic free speech have been so brutally violated? How precisely will it happen that the scientific establishment will come to step away from this fiasco while retaining dignity, decorum, and what remains of its credibility?

The people who locked down the world didn’t put enough thought into the end game. There was never a chance to suppress the virus. The real answer is therapeutics, good health, and improved immune systems via exposure. Anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge of respiratory viruses knew this.

Generations of specialists recommended against panic, quarantines, closures, and all these other medieval-style tactics that only disrupt, demonize, and destroy. In a few fateful days, all this progress was reversed and now we are stuck with the carnage. 

Something has to give. Another lockdown risks revolution – it’s not even an option, despite the delusions of the New York Times. The journals have to open up. Society too — not only in the US, but all over the world. Humankind will not live in cages built by mad scientists who have low regard for human choice, enterprise, and progress itself. They tried and failed. There will be cascading waves of fury for many years hence.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics at The Epoch Times, and speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.


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