Civics: The current custom in journalism holds that whatever the National Institutes of Health’s Anthony Fauci calls misinformation is, by fiat, medical misinformation. Until Fauci changes his mind, that is.

Paul Thacker:

Early in the pandemic, Fauci argued that masks provide “some slight benefit” and recommended against wearing masks, however, he became much more aggressively pro-mask, after he made disagreeing with everything-Trump part of his medical agenda. Since Fauci became a clear Trump opponent, reporters have dutifully lined up to support him, a process that influences rather than informs public health debates.

Numerous experts continue to question mask efficacy, despite many science writers turning COVID-19 virtue signaling into a Twitter art form. “We established the need for evidence-based medicine forty years ago,” said Dr. Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist and professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University. Heneghan pointed me to the Cochrane Review of masks that found no evidence that masks reduce respiratory viral infections.
He added that the pandemic created an environment in which these results were ignored, even as low-quality studies were elevated if they found results that showed masks worked. For example, The Lancet published a June 2020 paper that concluded masks caused a huge reduction in infection risk. Around this same time, by an ad hoc group of researchers published a preprint that found a similar 80% reduction of infections with masks, leading to coverage in multiple media outlets.
“It sounds too good to be true,” reported Vanity Fair, announcing masks would cause COVID-19 infections to plunge. “But a compelling new study and computer model provide fresh evidence for a simple solution to help us emerge from this nightmarish lockdown.”
Heneghan said Vanity Fair got it right in the first sentence: It sounds too good to be true.