Documents recently obtained from the National Institutes of Health suggest public health officials used inaccurate information and misrepresented medical research to advance their policy objective that masks prevent severe COVID-19 and virus transmission—despite opposing scientific evidence received from experts.
In a recently obtained letter (pdf) sent in November 2021 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), top epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and seven colleagues informed the agency it was promoting flawed data and excluding data that did not reinforce their narrative.
The letter warned the agency that misrepresenting data on trusted websites such as the CDC and the COVID-19 Real-Time Learning Network—jointly created by the CDC and Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)—would “damage the credibility of science,” endanger public trust by “misrepresenting the evidence,” and give the public “false expectations” masking would protect them from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
“We believe the information and recommendations as provided may actually put an individual at increased risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and for them to experience a serious or even life-threatening infection,” Mr. Osterhom wrote.
The authors urged the IDSA to remove the suggestion that masking prevents severe disease from its website and asked the CDC to reconsider its statements about the “efficacy of masks and face coverings for preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”
Osterholm also noted a pattern of selectively choosing data that supported the desired narrative that masks prevent severe COVID-19 disease and transmission—claims he said are unsupported by the scientific evidence provided by the CDC and IDSA on their websites.
The IDSA “Masks and Face Coverings for the Public” webpage appears to “focus on the strengths of studies that support its conclusions while ignoring their shortcomings of study design,” Mr. Osterholm wrote. “Studies that do not support its perspective are similarly downplayed.”…