BREAKING: Did Cochrane sacrifice its researchers to appease critics?
Authors of the latest Cochrane review angered by Cochrane's capitulation to pressure from critics
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The recent Cochrane review on physical interventions (including face masks) and my subsequent interview with its lead author Tom Jefferson has - to put it mildly - ruffled a few feathers.
It is now the most downloaded review in the Cochrane Library with the highest altimetric score in Cochrane’s history.
The review concludes that wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to influenza-like or covid-19-like illness transmission.
Put simply, Jefferson said, “There is just no evidence that they (masks) make any difference. Full stop.”
It was enough to stoke the ire of long-time mask advocate, and New York Times columnist, Zeynep Tufekci, who published a rebuke of Jefferson’s comments in her recent opinion article titled, “Here’s why the science is clear that masks work.”
Tufekci argued that despite no high-quality data, we could conclude, based on poor evidence, that masks do work.
Tufekci also reached out to Cochrane for comment, and presumably, pressured Cochrane into publishing a statement on its website.
In the statement, Karla Soares-Weiser, Editor-in-Chief of the Cochrane Library said that commentators had made “inaccurate and misleading” claims about the study and that wording in the summary of the review “was open to misinterpretation, for which we apologize.”
Cochrane’s statement was interpreted widely as an “apology,” and in some cases, tweeters believed the review was “retracted”.
Soares-Weiser indicated that Cochrane was engaging with the authors of the study to update the wording to “make clear that the review looked at whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.”
The release of the Cochrane statement was sudden and unexpected.