May 15, 2024 - 9:00pm

Face masks have not been effective at preventing the spread of Covid-19 since at least February 2022, according to a new study from the University of East Anglia.

Mask mandates were in place well into spring that year, but masks did not lower the risk of Covid infection after the initial Omicron peak that February, researchers found. Before Omicron, masks could reportedly reduce transmission by about 19%, but afterwards there was no relationship between consistent masking and risk of infection.

The research also demonstrates a weak relationship between childhood masking and infections. While school-aged children who never masked were more likely to be infected up until February 2022, after that point those who didn’t wear masks actually had a much lower likelihood of infection, though the difference was often statistically insignificant.

A number of surprising factors were at play in who was most likely to be infected, according to the study. Tobacco smokers, women, and ethnic minorities were less likely to test positive for the virus, as were those living in multi-generational houses, the disabled, and those living with the disabled. The report surveyed data from over 100,000 Britons from different age groups and ethnic backgrounds.

The UK Government secretly censored critics of Covid-19 protocols, including masking, through its Counter Disinformation Unit. Yet a growing body of research indicates that, on key issues including mandatory masking, the state approach was unscientific and did not meaningfully reduce the spread of the virus. Other studies have failed to find evidence supporting the efficacy of mask mandates and lockdowns.

“This isn’t totally surprising because laboratory evidence suggests that the Omicron variant was better able to infect the cells lining the upper respiratory tract than previous variants and so be more transmissible,” report co-author Dr Julii Brainard said in a statement. “Management of infection risk needs to be agile, adapting to epidemic development and better-quality information when it emerges.”

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.