Scientific evidence supporting the Ministry of Health's advice on masks & masking rules

Matt Perryman made this Official Information request to Ministry of Health

Currently waiting for a response from Ministry of Health, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details and exceptions).

From: Matt Perryman

Dear Ministry of Health,

The Ministry's website states:

"Wearing face masks protects yourself and others from COVID-19, especially when in poorly ventilated spaces or when it is hard to physically distance from others."

It goes on to further claim:

=====

Masks help to prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 in two ways:

* decreasing the amount of virus spread by an infectious person by catching the particles containing virus in the mask (source control).

* helping to prevent a person from inhaling particles containing virus (wearer protection).

The best protection from infection occurs when everyone is wearing a mask. The combination of source control AND wearer protection is much more effective than just one or the other.

=====

Contrary to these claims by the Ministry, there are numerous high-quality studies, including RCTs, which call into question the effectiveness of masking as preventative against respiratory infection and illness.

A review of the relevant published literature via Pubmed reveals a mix of positive and negative studies concerning mask effectiveness in viral transmission and infection in general and COVID-19 in particular. However, the balance of high-quality trials shows little or no effect by masking on infection or transmission as recommended by the Ministry's advice. Some trials indicate net harm from masks.

This is compounded by the observation that in the US, the EU, and other countries which enforced masking rules, there has been no demonstrated reduction of transmission or infection compared to places without masking rules.

The Ministry's claims about the effectiveness of masking therefore raise serious questions about just what evidence supports the advice for masking and how that evidence is evaluated, while ignoring significant patterns in infection and transmission available in overseas data.

These are glaring difficulties given the repeated insistence and assurance that the Ministry's advice on masking is soundly based in medical science.

This request has two parts related to these concerns.

1. Please provide any and all scientific evidence and any documents used by the Ministry to support its claims that:

a) masks decrease the amount of virus spread by an infectious person by catching the particles containing virus in the mask

b) masks help prevent a person from inhaling particles containing virus

c) the best protection from infection occurs when everyone is wearing a mask, and

d) wearing face masks protects yourself and others from COVID-19

Please note that this is NOT a request for advice received by the Ministry from relevant regulatory authorities or health agencies, or any party, in New Zealand or elsewhere.

Nor is it a request for a description of the decision-making process used within the Ministry.

This request expressly concerns the specific scientific evidence and reasoning, along with any relevant policy documents, papers, and correspondence used by the Ministry in support of each of its claims (a-d) above.

2. Please provide any and all documents and correspondence from the Ministry of Health to the Cabinet (including the Prime Minister) which concern the Ministry's advice that masks reduce or stop infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.

Yours faithfully,

Matt Perryman

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From: OIA Requests


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Kia ora Matt,  

  

Thank you for your request for official information. The Ministry's
reference number for your request is: H2022008422.  

  

As required under the Official Information Act 1982, the Ministry will
endeavour to respond to your request no later than 20 working days after
the day your request was received. If you'd like to calculate the
timeframe, you can use the Ombudsman's online calculator
here: [1]http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/  

  

If you have any queries related to this request, please do not hesitate to
get in touch. 

 

Ngā mihi 

  

OIA Services Team 

M[2]inistry of Health information releases 
U[3]nite against COVID-19 

 
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This is an Official Information request made via the FYI website.

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From: OIA Requests


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Kia ora Matt,

Thank you for your request for official information received on 24 July
2022 for:

“1. Please provide any and all scientific evidence and any documents used
by the Ministry to support its claims that:

a) masks decrease the amount of virus spread by an infectious person by
catching the particles containing virus in the mask

b) masks help prevent a person from inhaling particles containing virus

c) the best protection from infection occurs when everyone is wearing a
mask, and

d) wearing face masks protects yourself and others from COVID-19

Please note that this is NOT a request for advice received by the Ministry
from relevant regulatory authorities or health agencies, or any party, in
New Zealand or elsewhere.

Nor is it a request for a description of the decision-making process used
within the Ministry.

This request expressly concerns the specific scientific evidence and
reasoning, along with any relevant policy documents, papers, and
correspondence used by the Ministry in support of each of its claims (a-d)
above.

2. Please provide any and all documents and correspondence from the
Ministry of Health to the Cabinet (including the Prime Minister) which
concern the Ministry's advice that masks reduce or stop infection and
transmission of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19."

 

We are contacting you to clarify part of your request.

Please specify a timeframe (from when to when) for the information you
seeking for question 2 of your request. Otherwise, this question is too
broad and this part of your request may be refused under section 18(f) of
the Act, as the information requested cannot be made available without
substantial collation or research.

Please respond by Tuesday 9 August 2022, so that we can consider your
refinement in our response to your request.

 

We look forward to receiving your response.

 

Ngâ mihi,

OIA Services
Government and Executive Services
Manatû Hauora

 

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From: Matt Perryman

Dear OIA Requests,

In regard to your request for clarification on question (2) of my request:

====

Please specify a timeframe (from when to when) for the information you
seeking for question 2 of your request. Otherwise, this question is too
broad and this part of your request may be refused under section 18(f) of
the Act, as the information requested cannot be made available without
substantial collation or research.

===

The intent of question (2) is to understand exactly which scientific evidence and reasoning was given from the Ministry of Health to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, in support of claims (a-d) listed under question (1), and in particular what is given as justification for current masking rules/mandates.

The minimum time frame should cover 12 months prior to the date of the request, from June 2021 to July 2022 inclusive.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Perryman

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
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