‘Lancet’ Urges Continued Mass Masking for ‘Altruism and Solidarity’

Pre-K students listen while a book is read to them at Phyl's Academy, Wednesday, March 24,
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool

The once-prestigious Lancet medical journal has doubled down in its support for mass masking of healthy individuals, urging the practice be continued for reasons of “altruism and solidarity.”

“People often wear masks to protect themselves, but we suggest a stronger public health rationale is source control to protect others from respiratory droplets,” the journal states in its April 30, 2022 issue.

The authors of the piece, Kar Keung Cheng, Tai Hing Lam, and Chi Chiu Leung assert that this approach is important “because of possible asymptomatic transmissions of SARS-CoV-2” (emphasis added).

The article notes that international health authorities “have hitherto not recommended mass masking because they suggest there is no evidence that this approach prevents infection with respiratory viruses” but this may be because research has “not been done during a pandemic when mass masking compliance is high enough for its effectiveness to be assessed.”

Moreover, “absence of evidence of effectiveness from clinical trials on mass masking should not be equated with evidence of ineffectiveness,” the authors insist.

A commuter wearing facer mask looks on at the Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida on April 19, 2022. (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty)

“There are mechanistic reasons for covering the mouth to reduce respiratory droplet transmission and, indeed, cough etiquette is based on these considerations and not on evidence from clinical trials,” the article adds.

A workshop convened by W.H.O. in 2019 concluded that although there was no evidence from trials of effectiveness in reducing transmission through mass masking, “there is mechanistic plausibility for the potential effectiveness of this measure,” which could make it worth considering anyway, the authors propose.

The article then proceeds to suggest that since mass making is inexpensive and could reduce transmission it should be employed, without ever broaching the human cost of invasive government control over people’s lives as if the matter were inconsequential.

“Dismissing a low-cost intervention such as mass masking as ineffective because there is no evidence of effectiveness in clinical trials is in our view potentially harmful,” it argues.

The authors also suggest that medical masks may be reserved for health-care workers and cloth masks are “likely to be adequate” for the general public, “especially if everyone wears a mask.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.