Victorian study claiming mandatory masks stopped second wave shredded by experts

A “world-first” Australian study which Victoria’s government has held up as proof its mandatory face mask policy worked is riddled with basic errors and should never have been published in a major journal, medical researchers and experts say.

Victoria first made face masks mandatory outside the home in Melbourne during its second coronavirus wave in July 2020, but the Department of Health has been unable to provide any scientific research or studies upon which the decision was made.

Instead, the Department of Health directed news.com.au to a paper published in July this year by the Burnet Institute – an influential public health body which has come under fire in recent months for its alarmist predictions – as justification for the mandate which has resulted in thousands of dollars in fines for Victorians.

The study claimed the mandatory face mask rule had turned the pandemic “almost overnight”.

“There has been a lot of low-quality research that has come out in the pandemic, but for this to be used as a basis for a policy change is staggering,” said Dr Kyle Sheldrick, a medical researcher and PhD candidate at the University of NSW.

Melbourne made outdoor masks mandatory in July last year. Picture: David Crosling/NCA NewsWire
Melbourne made outdoor masks mandatory in July last year. Picture: David Crosling/NCA NewsWire

‘I agree, it’s crap’

Dr Sheldrick was one of a group of independent scientists who recently highlighted major issues in a number of studies held up by proponents of the drug ivermectin to treat Covid-19.

“To me it’s very clear this has not had a close peer review, partly because of the serious and substantive issues, but [also] it just clearly hasn’t been proofread,” he said.

“When I look at this particular piece of research, it is very, very low quality. I was staggered to see this was published by a major journal.”

Another researcher, an eminent Australian clinician and scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was equally scathing.

“I agree, it’s crap,” he said.

“It’s extremely lightweight. I think it’s a totally feeble article. It doesn’t have a rigorous methodology and it is weak in its scientific inference. I’ve been around a long time – I teach how you do clear thinking, I teach how you do reproducible science. I’m a bit of a stickler for these things.”

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