Face Masks Are Safe To Wear
Why masks don’t cause Long COVID, and the evidence behind this bizarre myth
Note: The mask review that is discussed in this article has recently been retracted due in part to the errors identified here.
There have been a huge number of myths that have sprung up during the pandemic. Whether it was the bizarre idea that pandemic deaths were drastically over-counted, despite the evidence showing precisely the opposite, or the wild story that COVID-19 tests were mostly false positives, the last three years have been filled to the brim with nonsensical arguments.
The most recent of these, which has managed to go viral online, is the strange conjecture that the issues we’re seeing with Long COVID are probably caused, not by COVID-19 infections, but by people wearing face masks instead.
As unlikely as this claim seems, it has now been repeated by dozens of very large accounts online, and has become quite popular with people who have been campaigning for some time against mask usage during the pandemic. The idea comes from a new piece of research published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, which looked at how masks might impact people’s physiology and self-reported health.
Fortunately for all of us who have worn masks during the pandemic, the evidence doesn’t really show that masks cause Long COVID. Indeed, the data mostly shows that masks cause few, if any, serious health problems, which to me seems like quite good news.
Let’s look at the evidence.
The new study that has caused such a furor is a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies looking at mask wearing. This means that the authors systematically searched for every published study looking at how masks might impact people’s health, and aggregated together the results into statistical models looking at specific impacts. Specifically, they looked at randomized trials that looked at the issues associated with…