CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Gets Fact-Checked For Claiming Masks Help Reduce Transmission

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was fact-checked by several medical researchers for her recent claim that masks help reduce the transmission of COVID by up to 80 percent.

    • She was not fact-checked by "official" third party social media fact-checkers.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are people who are supposed to be disseminating honest and truthful information about health measures allowed to make such statements without any repercussion? Can we really trust our federal health regulatory agencies?

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Centres For Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky made the following statement on the 5th of November.

Masks can help reduce your chance of #COVID19 infection by more than 80%. Masks also help protect from other illnesses like common cold and flu.

After doing so, she was fact-checked by a number of prominent medical scientists and researchers. She was not fact-checked by Facebook “fact-checkers” however, who have now removed and/or added warning labels to hundreds of millions of pieces of COVID related content from their platform. Youtube and Twitter have done the same throughout this pandemic.

Vinay Prasad MD MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco was one of the first to call out her claims. He did so in an article published by The Brownstone Institute titled, “For Whom Do The COVID Fact-Checkers Really Work?”

Let’s start with the one by Dr. Walensky. I don’t know how to put this politely, but it is a lie, and a truly unbelievable one at that. First, of all, if it were true, it would mean that masking was more effective that the J&J vaccine (implausible). Second of all, we have actual cluster RCT data from Bangladesh showing a 11% (relative risk reduction). This occurred in a massive trial where masks were provided for free and encouraged. Even here, only surgical masks worked, and cloth did not, and had nowhere near this effect size. The idea that masks could reduce the chance of infection by 80% is simply untrue, implausible, and cannot be supported by any reliable data.

We are living in a world where the CDC director can say something that is false, made-up and no institution will say otherwise. At the same time, major, venerable fact checking institutions are literally asserting as fact something which is at best unproven.

No matter how you feel about these issues; these are dangerous times. Truth and falsehood is not a matter of science but cultural power— the ability to proclaim and define the truth. If this continues, dark times lie ahead. Someday soon, we may not like who defines the truth.

Prasad, Brownstone Institute

Standford Professor of Medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya also had something to say.

There are several examples circulating online.

Many scientists who have presented evidence or shared their opinion that masks are not effective at preventing the transmission of airborne diseases have had their posts on social media removed. It happened to Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, when he shared this article in the Spectator in November of 2020 on his Twitter feed.

Science, like this large meta-analysis, explaining why masks are not only dangerous, but may also lead to numerous health consequences in many medical fields remain unacknowledged within the “mainstream.”

What is going on? Why does the mainstream continue to fail at having appropriate conversations about controversial topics?

 The mask has become so politicized that it prevents rational consideration of the evidence (even across political lines) and drives levels of acrimony, invidious actions, disdain, and villainy among wearers to each other who feel threatened by the individual who will not or cannot wear a mask. Masking Children: Tragic, Unscientific, and Damaging

Dr. Paul E. Alexander. “Masking Children: Tragic, Unscientific, and Damaging”

One thing that seems quite evident now more than ever before in my experience as a journalist and researcher (and as a human in general), is that people are hungry for information that is deeper than what they are getting through the mainstream media. It feels as though people are beginning to recognize that there is a degree of corruption involved in our world and that politicians and traditional media outlets have been compromised in the process.

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