Note that views expressed in this opinion article are the writer’s personal views and not necessarily those of TrialSite.
Dr. Ron Brown – Opinion Editorial
July 19, 2021
Trialsitenews.com recently reported a study published in JAMA Pediatrics on June 30, 2021, which found unacceptable levels of carbon dioxide in children wearing face masks. Needless to say, this was a very popular article. Children’s face masks increase carbon dioxide 6-fold over acceptable levels (trialsitenews.com). However, Trialsitenews.com has learned that the JAMA Pediatrics study was subsequently retracted by the journal editors on July 16, 2021. Notice of Retraction. Walach H, et al. Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. Published online June 30, 2021. | Pediatrics | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network.
The JAMA Pediatrics editors’ notice of retraction does not mention who raised scientific issues regarding the study’s methodology and other concerns, or reveal all the detailed evidence supporting the specific concerns raised, or identify possible conflicts of interest by the parties raising the concerns. Nor were the study authors’ responses to the concerns revealed.
During these times of unprecedented censorship, it is difficult to accept the legitimacy of this retraction on face value alone, especially considering that Facebook censored the original article when it was first published in JAMA Pediatrics. Facebook warns JAMA study on children’s COVID masks ‘false news,’ sharers will be punished | Just The News.
Furthermore, neither of the journal’s two editors holds doctoral degrees, which requires advanced knowledge of research methodology, inferring that the editors may have over-relied on outside sources for “additional scientific review.”
The editors are right about at least one point—the retracted study has “potential public health implications.” In view of the great significance to public health concerning the issue of masks and children’s health, the public should have access to all details of the specific concerns raised, and the authors’ complete responses, so that an open debate can fairly review and discuss the retracted the study.
Even if an open critical appraisal supports problems in methodology, this should not automatically disqualify the thesis of the study. I can’t think of a single study that doesn’t have methodological limitations. It is simply not possible to address every single issue in one study. More importantly, publishing study limitations helps point the direction toward designing further studies to continue to pursue the investigation.
It’s not likely that any one study is capable of establishing the final word on this issue, and many more studies should continue to investigate carbon dioxide exposure in children wearing masks. However, criticizing a study’s validity based on design limitations is one thing, which happens frequently in the research literature, but it is quite another to retract a study from the scientific research literature altogether. Even a weak study can function within the literature as an exploratory investigation, which is intended to present the feasibility of the study, upon which other researchers can improve with stronger designs.
Only through shared information in the research literature can further studies zero in on resolving vitally important issues. In the meantime, chopping off the children’s mask investigation at the root by retracting the current study potentially censors the scientific literature, which is unacceptable. The message sent is loud and clear: This topic is off limits. We don’t want to know!