Federal government still peddling COVID misinformation

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Appeared in the Ottawa Sun, February 15, 2023
Federal government still peddling COVID misinformation

A new report from the non-profit Cochrane Library in the United Kingdom, a clearing-house of health-care information, confirms once again that most of the things government insisted people do during the pandemic were useless in preventing COVID infection or reducing COVID severity.

Of course, governments should have known all of this, because the limited usefulness (and more-frequent uselessness) of facemasks, self-isolation and lockdowns/closures was well documented in biomedical, industrial health and public health journals prior to 2020.

These limitations were also documented in governmental reports of high-profile governmental agencies including the World Health Organization. Our public health and medical officials, in particular, have absolutely no excuse for not knowing this information—it was literally their job to know and act on such knowledge.

To bring things up to date, the Cochrane Library recently confirmed that “wearing a mask may make little to no difference in how many people caught a flu-like illness/COVID-like illness; and probably makes little or no difference in how many people have flu/COVID confirmed by a laboratory test.” And that “pooled results of RCTs [randomized clinical trials] did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks.” And there were “no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection.” Note that these are the people you expect to actually know how to properly wear or fit N95/P2 masks (which are still no better than surgical masks, which are ineffective at blocking respiratory viruses).

And yet, the Trudeau government is still promoting masks. On its website, it says “Masks are one of the most effective individual public health measures that we can use to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19.”

The Canadian public is still suffering from the effects of an array of utterly wrongheaded policies implemented by governments across during COVID—policies that had been shown to be useless in the scientific and health literature existing at the time they were implemented. And yet governments have not only refused to admit that their guidance, policies and mandates were wrong on scientific and health merits, they’re still publishing them.

The Trudeau government—like governments in the United States, the United Kingdom and the EU—has been strident and aggressive at policing what it deems misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 (and the government response) across traditional media and social media. But it should take a good hard look in the mirror because policymakers are major part of the problem.

The federal government should launch an immediate inspection of its entire catalogue of health and science publications involving COVID-19. Publications should be corrected (while explaining previous error) if they still online. Governments across the country should also lay out new policies and guidelines they will implement to prevent publication of misinformation and disinformation of this sort in the future, and in areas of health and science beyond COVID. The health and well-being of Canadians depends upon it.