Students, some wearing protective masks, arrive for the first day of school at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview, Fla., on Aug. 10, 2021. (Chris O’Meara/AP Photo).
The Epoch Times
By Naveen Athrappully
The imposition of mask mandates among school children during the pandemic did not affect the incidence of COVID-19 infection, according to research conducted in Finland.
The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health on April 21, was conducted in three Finnish cities—Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere. These cities had similar baseline incidences of COVID-19 between August and September 2021. At the time, the federal government had recommended using masks in schools for children aged 12 years and above. In Helsinki and Tampere, the national recommendation was imposed as mandates at schools while in Turku, the mandate was levied on kids aged 10 and above.
The research team looked at the effects of masks on two groups of children—those between seven and nine years and those between 10 and 12. While the seven to 10-year-olds were not subject to mask mandates, 10-12 years olds had to wear masks.
“According to our analysis, no additional effect was gained from mandating masks, based on comparisons between the cities and between the age groups of the unvaccinated children (10–12 years versus 7–9 years),” the study said.
“Face mask recommendations in schools did not reduce COVID-19 incidence among 10–12-year-olds in Finland. This may indicate that COVID-19 cases in schools merely reflect community infections than school outbreaks.”
The Finnish study cited Spanish research on mask mandates in schools which found that masking was not associated with lower COVID-19 incidence or transmission. The transmission risk in schools was found to be lower than in households.
It also cited a late 2022 study from the United States which found that lifting mask requirements was associated with an increase in COVID-19 cases among students and staff.
“However, this study aggregated data from all age groups, making it difficult to determine how the effects of mask recommendations might vary by age,” the Finnish study stated.
Multiple other studies have also suggested that masks may be ineffective when it comes to controlling COVID-19.
On April 13, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that it could not find evidence as to whether N95 or similar medical-grade masks protect clinically vulnerable people from getting seriously ill from the disease.
A review by the UKHSA of thousands of primary studies about the effectiveness of face coverings could not find anything on whether wearing N75 or similar respirators could protect people or not. This is quite significant given that N95 respirators are considered to be very efficient in filtering airborne particles.
In addition to being ineffective, wearing masks also turns out to be harmful. A systematic review of 2,168 studies that looked at the adverse effects of wearing masks during COVID-19 found that many people suffered from health consequences like headaches and itching as a result.
Headache was found to be the “most frequent symptom” among those who wore masks, with a prevalence of 62 percent for general mask use. Shortness of breath was observed in 33 percent of users.
While 17 percent of surgical mask wearers experienced itching, this number was at 51 percent among users of N95. Acne prevalence among mask users was at 38 percent and skin irritation was at 36 percent. Dizziness was found to be prevalent among 5 percent of subjects.
Masks also interfered with the process of oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide release, thereby compromising “respiratory compensation.” The restriction of oxygen uptake and hindrance in carbon dioxide release was identified as more significant among users of N95 masks.
An online survey conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago found that individuals who had asthma faced difficulties when wearing masks.
While 84 percent experienced discomfort, 75 percent reported experiencing trouble breathing or shortness of breath at least for a little time while they wore the mask.