‘The Case Against Masks for Children’: WSJ

“It’s abusive to force kids who struggle with them to sacrifice for the sake of unvaccinated adults,” write Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Tufts Children’s Hospital doctors.

  • Dr. Makary is an American professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, editor-in-chief of Medpage Today. He’s also pro-vaccine.
  • Dr. H. Cody Meissner is chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Tufts Children’s Hospital and served on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) external advisory panel for the Covid-19 vaccines.
  • Doctors Makary and Meissner published an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal arguing against mandating masks for children.
  • While the “adverse developmental effects of requiring masks for a few weeks are probably minor,” the doctors warn, “We can’t say that with any confidence when the practice stretches on for months or years.”
  • “[T]here’s no science behind mask mandates for children,” write the doctors.
  • The doctors found “only a single retrospective study on the question” of whether masks reduce Covid-19 transmission in children.
  • Moreover, that single study’s “results were inconclusive.”
  • Children “who have myopia can have difficulty seeing because the mask fogs their glasses.”
  • “Masks can cause severe acne and other skin problems.”
  • “The discomfort of a mask distracts some children from learning.”
  • “By increasing airway resistance during exhalation, masks can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.”
  • “And masks can be vectors for pathogens if they become moist or are used for too long.”

  • Makary and Meissner noted how in March, Ireland’s Department of Health refused to require masks in schools.
  • This was because masks “may exacerbate anxiety or breathing difficulties for some students.”
  • “Some children compensate for such difficulties by breathing through their mouths.”
  • “Chronic and prolonged mouth breathing can alter facial development. It is well-documented that children who mouth-breathe because adenoids block their nasal airways can develop a mouth deformity and elongated face.”
  • “The possible psychological harm of widespread masking is an even greater worry,” write the doctors.
  • “Facial expressions are integral to human connection, particularly for young children, who are only learning how to signal fear, confusion and happiness.”
  • They go on to say, “Covering a child’s face mutes these nonverbal forms of communication and can result in robotic and emotionless interactions, anxiety and depression.”
  • But “Seeing people speak is a building block of phonetic development. It is especially important for children with disabilities such as hearing impairment.”

  • The doctors point out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported “that for the week of July 31 the rate of hospitalization with Covid for children 5 to 17 was 0.5 per million.”
  • This amounts to “roughly 25 patients.”
  • Moreover, the CDC “acknowledges that not all of these children were in the hospital for Covid: Viral testing at admission is routine, even for patients who have no Covid symptoms.”
  • Makary and Meissner also note that “Children who do develop Covid symptoms” experience minimal risk of “long Covid,” as shown by a Lancet study published Aug 3.
  • The study says, “Almost all children had symptom resolution by 8 weeks, providing reassurance about long-term outcomes.”
  • Children transmit Covid “far less often than adults do,” write the doctors.
  • They point to a North Carolina study conducted before vaccines were available, which “found not a single case of student-to-teacher transmission when 90,000 students were in school.”
  • The doctors claim that “Cloth masks aren’t nearly as effective as N95 respirators,” although the “CDC directives ignore the distinction.”
  • Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm—who was on Biden transition team’s Covid task force—recently told CNN that “Many of the face cloth coverings that people wear are not very effective in reducing any of the virus movement in or out.”
  • “The CDC’s mask decrees are perversely permissive as well as needlessly strict,” write Makary and Meissner.
  • “In the absence of data, mask mandates have ignited a culture war. Yet if masks do reduce asymptomatic transmission in children, they likely rank no higher than fourth among mitigation strategies that schools can adopt, after ventilation, distancing and dividing students into small groups known as pods.”
  • “Any child who wants to wear a mask should be free to do so,” the doctors go on to say, “But forcing them to make personal, health and developmental sacrifices for the sake of adults who refuse to get immunized is abusive.”
  • “Before we order the masking of 56 million Americans who are too young to vote and don’t have a lobby,” conclude the doctors,” let’s see data showing the benefits and weigh them against the long-term harm.”

Jon Fleetwood is Managing Editor for American Faith.