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Latest research skewers mask claims that have been debunked and were never credible to begin with

mask study not credible
Photo via Navy Medicine/Flickr (Public Domain)

As research shows, wearing masks to protect yourself and others during an outbreak is an idea that goes back centuries. Until enough of the population gets vaccinated for the world to achieve herd immunity, wearing a mask is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Though President Joe Biden has made it clear that he wants people wearing masks, not everybody is in agreement. Even Israel has now said it’s OK not to wear masks while outdoors.  

Yes, there’s more hope to ending the pandemic than we’ve seen in months. But it’s not over yet. January was the deadliest month since the pandemic began, and though the numbers have been coming down since then, there are still heartbreaking stories of entire families dying from the coronavirus. By late March 2021, coronavirus rates were beginning to rise again, and the number of people who wanted to get vaccines was declining in April. 

That’s why the continued wearing of masks in our everyday lives is imperative. More research continues to emerge about the masks and whether they should be worn to help stave off coronavirus transmissions, and the vast majority of it shows masks are vital to keep people safe from COVID-19. Here’s some of the latest research.  

OK, let’s debunk a study that’s become awfully controversial recently. A researcher named Baruch Vainshelboim wrote for a journal called Medical Hypotheses that masks don’t work to stop the coronavirus and, in fact, are harmful to those who wear face coverings. In his journal entry, Vainshelboim wrote “scientific evidence supporting facemasks’ efficacy is lacking” (this entire website begs to differ) and “long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death.”

The journal was published in November 2020 but went viral in 2021 after the study was published on the National Institutes of Health website. Republican politicians began sharing the study, and at least one far-right website aggregated the story and attributed it as Stanford University study. 

Vainshelboim, a clinical exercise physiologist, was briefly affiliated with Stanford last decade, but the university was quick to point out that it has no current link to him or his study. “Stanford University has never employed Baruch Vainshelboim,” Julie Greicius, the senior director of external communications for Stanford’s medical school, told the Associated Press. “Several years ago (2015), he was a visiting scholar at Stanford for a year, on matters unrelated to this paper.”

Throughout the pandemic, it’s been proven over and over again that masks are effective in slowing down transmission of COVID-19 and that face coverings do not harm the people who wear them. 

As for whether the journal that published the research is credible, Snopes wrote, “The journal Medical Hypotheses publishes extremely speculative notions without the burden of ‘traditional’ peer review. The journal says it accepts ‘radical, speculative and non-mainstream scientific ideas provided they are coherently expressed.’ An editor once described the journal’s central philosophy as ‘more harm is done by a failure to publish one idea that might have been true, than by publishing a dozen ideas that turn out to be false.’”

Previously, the journal has published papers on how masturbation cures nasal congestion and that a beef allergy is the cause of Gulf War syndrome. So, if that’s any indication about the validity of Vainshelboim’s work, that’s not great news for him.

In case you missed the last blog post, the spotlighted research attempts to determine when we can take off our masks for good.

Josh Katzowitz

Written by Josh Katzowitz