This is a copy of a letter I wrote to a school board on the subject of masking children. You may find it of use in your own school district.
After writing this, Mich. Comp. Laws Section 380.1307b came to my attention, which says, among other things, ” the following practices are prohibited for school personnel in the public schools of this state under all circumstances, including emergency situations:…Any restraint that negatively impacts breathing.”
Dear School Board Members,
I am William M Briggs, and I’m writing to encourage you not to require masks for kids at school (or for anybody).
I have a PhD in Statistics from Cornell, and have done medical research for more than two decades. I have just over 100 professional papers. I’m co-author of the book The Price of Panic: How a Tyranny of Experts Turned a Panic into a Catastrophe, and author of Uncertainty (a scholarly work showing how scientists and doctors become over-certain).
Besides all the parental concerns of how masks harm children, there are two main arguments why masks shouldn’t be required for anybody:
1) They don’t work,
2) Even if they did, they aren’t needed for kids.
Let me briefly outline the evidence for both.
THEY DON’T WORK
We have a century’s worth of studies showing masks don’t work. The first studies came out after the Spanish Flu of 1917, during which mask mandates were first used. The conclusion then (as now) was that masks did nothing to stem infections.
Most relevant to Covid is the “Danish study”. It is the March 2021 paper “Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers” in the Annals of Internal Medicine by Bundgaard and others.
Some 6,000 Danes were split into two groups, one without masks and one with masks. Not just masks but the “best” masks, and with training in their use. Such as if you touch it, change it. If it becomes moist, change it. And so on. (None of which kids would do.)
The results were no difference in infection rates in the two groups.
Another major paper was 2020’s “Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings–Personal Protective and Environmental Measures” by Xiao and others in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
This was “meta analysis”, an examination of about twenty other mask efficacy papers. They discovered, again, masks do nothing to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases (even in hospital settings).
There are dozens of others. I’d be happy to provide a list and summary. Including the example of Sweden and other countries who never had any restrictions and did better than those with them.
The natural question is if all these negative studies exist, why do so many experts say masks work? The answer is simple: these experts simply assume masks work (they block breath, right?), and they have not considered, and never cite, the dozens upon dozens of negative studies.
This has been a panic not just among non-medically trained people, but among those who have training and should know better, but who don’t, because they believe they don’t have time to question their assumptions.
MASKS AREN’T NEEDED
As I write to you, fewer than 400 kids from 0 to 17 have died from Covid in the USA since January 2020, a period of 18 months. Each of these children suffered from multiple comorbidities besides Covid; i.e. they were otherwise very sick.
This is a number far less than the number of kids who usually succumb to the flu in the same period. (When no masks were required. Interestingly, flu has disappeared worldwide these last 18 months.)
Not only that, but the trends in deaths in children is down, even in the midst of the Delta and other variants. These variants, as always happens in outbreaks, are less virulent than the original bugs. More people become infected, but the illness is far less severe than with the original variant.
Don’t forget ordinary coronaviruses cause the common cold (they are one of their causes), and the Delta for those about under 50-60 is not that deadly.
I’m sending you a plot of Covid deaths by age, prepared by the CDC. You’ll see (and anybody can see, even nervous parents) this is an old person’s disease. You have to strain to see when any kids died. The rate is so low they just don’t show up. The rate is decidedly not increasing, even as the deaths do bump up a bit for the elderly because of the Delta.
You can do this plot yourselves by going to this site:
Look to the left sidebar, select “Demographic Trends”, click the top item (shows Race/Ethnicity, Age, and sex), then in the picture under “Deaths” click “Age”.
The total number of kids who died can be found at the CDC, too (scroll to the bottom of this page):
As I write, the total number of 0-17 Covid deaths is 385. To contrast, 887 kids died from pneumonia during the same time. With no panic about that.
WHAT TO DO?
I’d suggest showing these official facts and figures to parents made nervous from the unrelenting storm of negative reporting. I don’t have to tell you how the media’s business is to gain audience, and they have discovered the best way to do it. Fear sells.
You’ll note that you never hear these official statistics in reports about Covid, and in debates about whether kids should be made to wear masks. Why is that?
That question is partly rhetorical. We are in a panic, where reason and rationality subside in favor of doing something, anything, for the mere sake of being seen doing it. Especially “for” the children.
Now I’d be happy to come and present all this material to any of your meetings. I understand a lot of parents are frightened, and I believe the best way to allay their fears is to show them the CDC’s own numbers.
Please feel free to forward this to anybody.
Thanks for your consideration,
William M Briggs
Update All should read the comment from Denis below.
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