Cochrane Review shows COVID face masks are worthless: Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of influenza-like illness (ILI)/COVID-19 like illness

by Paul Alexander

compared to not wearing masks; masks for laboratory-confirmed influenza/SARS-CoV-2 compared to no masks similar result; N95/P2 respirators same result for clinical respiratory illness & lab-confirmed

Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of influenza-like illness (ILI)/COVID-19 like illness compared to not wearing masks (risk ratio (RR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84 to 1.09; 9 trials, 276,917 participants; moderate-certainty evidence. Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of laboratory-confirmed influenza/SARS-CoV-2 compared to not wearing masks (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.42; 6 trials, 13,919 participants; moderate-certainty evidence)

Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses (Review), Jefferson, 2023

 

Medical or surgical masks

‘Ten studies took place in the community, and two studies in healthcare workers. Compared with wearing no mask in the community studies only, wearing a mask may make little to no difference in how many people caught a flu-like illness/COVID-like illness (9 studies; 276,917 people); and probably makes little or no difference in how many people have flu/COVID confirmed by a laboratory test (6 studies; 13,919 people). Unwanted effects were rarely reported; discomfort was mentioned.’

N95/P2 respirators

 ‘Four studies were in healthcare workers, and one small study was in the community. Compared with wearing medical or surgical masks, wearing N95/P2 respirators probably makes little to no difference in how many people have confirmed flu (5 studies; 8407 people); and may make little to no difference in how many people catch a flu-like illness (5 studies; 8407 people), or respiratory illness (3 studies; 7799 people). Unwanted effects were not well-reported; discomfort was mentioned.’

This review matches the comprehensive reviews we did two years ago (Alexander, McCullough, Risch, Oskoui, Tenenbaum) in AIER and also Brownstone:

AIER:

https://www.aier.org/article/masking-a-careful-review-of-the-evidence/

Brownstone:

https://brownstone.org/articles/studies-and-articles-on-mask-ineffectiveness-and-harms/