Prashant Bhushan Tweets Misleading Anti-Mask Study, Twitter Deletes It

The study hypothesised that masks are ineffective to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2 but their findings have been challenged by other published studies

Twitter on April 10 removed a tweet by lawyer Prashant Bhushan that stated that face masks are ineffective against COVID-19 based on a study by a US-based cardiologist. The platform removed the tweet as it did not meet its community standards and COVID-19 guidelines.

Bhushan publicised a study- 'Facemasks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis' which is a hypothesis passed off as a systematic review published in November 2020 to fuel an anti-masking narrative. Bhushan has been quite vocal against COVID-19 lockdowns as well as vaccination.

The now deleted tweet which can be found here, reads "Read this detailed study on Masks:"The data suggest that facemasks are ineffective to block transmission of viral & infectious disease such as COVID-19. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological& psychological effects."

Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, quote tweeted Bhushan's tweet requesting him to be wiser while propagating anti-masking at a time when the country is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases. India has been reporting over 1 lakh cases daily for the past five days.

In response to Krishnan's tweet, Bhushan accused her of peddling the views shared by the establishment and not reading this "very detailed meta-analysis." He even passed a remark on Covaxin that was approved for emergency use when its final results are not out.

This is not the first time that Bhushan has tweeted against vaccines, masking, and lockdowns. On April 7, while sharing the story about doctors from Lucknow who got COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, Bhushan tweeted that the use of vaccines should be stopped if their effectiveness against the COVID-19 strain is still unproved. One can find several anti-masking, anti-vaccination, and anti-lockdown tweets on Bhushan's profile.

Getting COVID-19 after vaccinated is a part of the science of infection as none of the approved vaccines across the world are 100% effective against SARS-CoV-2. Vaccines help in avoiding hospitalization and reducing the severity and impact of the virus, which will eventually help in eliminating the virus in few years.

Are Masks Really Ineffective Against COVID-19?

Bhushan tweeted a paper called 'Facemasks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis' a one- author study that hypothesises that face masks are ineffective as they compromise on safety as well as efficacy profile and thus, should be avoided from use. Several of the sources cited in the study, however, suggest otherwise.

In the first paragraph while hypothesizing that masks restrict breathing, causing hypoxemia and hypercapnia and increase the risk for respiratory complications, self-contamination and exacerbation of existing chronic conditions, the author cites several physiology and sports medicine textbooks, to drive his point. The author even cites a WHO paper that only suggests that masks alone are not sufficient to curb the spread of the virus. In the June 2020 paper, the WHO is recommending N95 respirators only for caretakers but pushes health workers to wear surgical masks. Nowhere in this paper does the WHO say that masks are ineffective in controlling the spread of the virus.

Another one of the studies that the author cites has had many updates pointing that the studies conducted earlier had several limitations while finding the efficacy of masks.

On the other hand, a 2020 Lancet study which was a systematic review of 172 studies bats for masking as well as a January 2021 study shows that face masks have helped in decreasing the transmission of the virus versus people wearing no masks.

Furthermore, all the leading global and international health bodies including India's swear by the usage of masks to further control the spread of the virus.

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