White House Chief Health Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that "hopefully" making children wear face masks won't have any "lasting negative impact" on them. This after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that unvaccinated children ages 2 and older wear masks and that all students wear masks regardless of vaccination status in all K-12 schools.
Fauci said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, "…hopefully, this will be a temporary thing, temporary enough that it doesn't have any lasting negative impact on them."
Hewitt cited an editorial by The Wall Street Journal, "The Case Against Masks for Children," which argues that long-term masking of kids can cause physical and developmental issues in children. The article also said that there's little evidence to back up a mask mandate for kids. Many children have been masking in school for over a year.
Hewitt said, "Facial expression are integral to human connection, particularly for younger children who are only learning how to signal fear, confusion and happiness. Covering a child's face mutes these nonverbal form of communications, can result in robotic and emotionless interaction. So, Doctor, what did you base it on?"
Fauci responded that the editorial "dates back to the alpha variant, not necessarily all the most recent data on delta."
"Delta is different," he added. "We'd better go back and make sure those data are really solid the same way you're asking me, and I will. I'll go back to the CDC and make sure that the data that they’re talking about is really solid. So let's do both. Let's just check both those things out and make sure we're really talking about apples and apples and not apples and oranges, and make sure we’re talking about transmissibility of Delta as we’re seeing what it’s doing right now. So I'll just keep an open mind."
However, the data cited in the WSJ article is from the time period of the Delta variant.
One of the authors of the article is Dr. Marty Makary who has been until now a pro-masking advocate. Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, editor-in-chief of Medpage Today, told Dana Perino on Fox News: "The co-author I wrote that piece with and I are very pro-mask as you know — I wrote the first piece calling for universal masking back in the spring in the beginning of the pandemic — but it turns out kids, they're very inefficient transmitters."
Makary co-wrote the article with H. Cody Meissner, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Tufts Children's Hospital and served on the Food and Drug Administration’s external advisory panel for the Covid-19 vaccines and another longtime mask advocate.
The doctors noted, "Children have been known to transmit COVID, but far less often than adults do."
The article went on to say that, "A North Carolina study conducted before vaccines were available found not a single case of student-to-teacher transmission when 90,000 students were in school. The faster-spreading Delta variant has emerged since—but many teachers, parents and children 12 and over have also been vaccinated."
Makary told Fox News that for Delta, mask mandates in areas with high levels of background infection "makes sense." However, he then explained that kids are typically "in low areas of transmission," citing that 40 percent of adolescents are immunized and some kids struggle with masks. He added, "We cannot forget about the 5 percent of American children with disabilities."
The doctors could only find we could find only a single retrospective study on the question of mask effectiveness, and its results were inconclusive. They wrote in the article, "Masks can cause severe acne and other skin problems. The discomfort of a mask distracts some children from learning. By increasing airway resistance during exhalation, masks can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. And masks can be vectors for pathogens if they become moist or are used for too long."
They added, "Chronic and prolonged mouth breathing can alter facial development. It is well-documented that children who mouth-breathe because adenoids block their nasal airways can develop a mouth deformity and elongated face."
The pair also noted the psychological harm the masks can cause. Though the doctors noted that "…the adverse developmental effects of requiring masks for a few weeks are probably minor," they could not say with "…any confidence when the practice stretches on for months or years."
According to the CDC, less than 350 kids under 18 have died from COVID in a population of 75 million in the US. The CDC also reported for the week of July 31 the rate of hospitalization with Covid for children 5 to 17 was 0.5 per 100,000, which amounts to approximately 250 patients and not all of these children were in the hospital for COVID.
The doctors cited a Lancet study published Aug. 3 that children who develop COVID symptoms are at minimal risk of "long COVID," and that "Almost all children had symptom resolution by 8 weeks, providing reassurance about long-term outcomes."
Additionally, the doctors noted that "A North Carolina study conducted before vaccines were available found not a single case of student-to-teacher transmission when 90,000 students were in school." The doctors added that "Cloth masks aren’t nearly as effective as N95 respirators, but the CDC directives ignore the distinction."