SOS to parents and teachers in Dubai: MASK EXEMPTION PROPOSAL
Please forward this email to your school management and friends and consider proposing the below idea to the authorities as a step towards lifting mask mandates in schools.
Dear Teachers, Dear Parents,
As teachers and parents, we have all made a promise, in our hearts, to safeguard the wellbeing of children and help them learn and flourish and achieve their potential
Now is the time to keep our promise.
The children in Dubai have been required to wear masks for 6 hours a day for the last two academic years.
First, we should ask ourselves these three questions:
Is there a need for this intervention?
Is this intervention effective at achieving the desired benefit?
What are the risks of this intervention?
Are you ready to explore?
1) Is there a need for this intervention?
Children have a minimal risk from Covid-19. The infection fatality rate for children is 0.0013% (including children with comorbidities). If they become sick, they are likely not to get any symptoms or get a mild infection leading to a low viral load and low onward transmission.
Attempting to stop transmission of a highly infectious respiratory virus is an unrealistic and unsound public health policy. The sooner low-risk individuals in the population catch the virus and develop immunity, the sooner they act as shields for high-risk individuals protecting them from severe disease. (please read here about strategies to protect the vulnerable)
Answer: There was no need for this intervention.
2) Is this intervention effective at achieving the desired benefit?
Interim Guidance by The World Health Organisation
“At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.” (WHO, June 2020)
Policy Review by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.” (Xiao et al., May 2020)
“We failed to establish a relationship between school masking and pediatric cases using the same methods but a larger, more nationally diverse population over a longer interval.” (Chandra & Høeg, 2022)
"There was no evidence that face coverings, 2-metre social distancing or stopping children mixing was associated with lower odds of COVID-19 or cold infection rates in the school." (Marchat et al., 2021)
Answer: Masks are not effective at stopping infection or transmission.
Beyond the simple logic of virus size (~0.1 microns) vs the mask pore size (~19 microns), obvious leakage and poor handling of masks in the general public, there is ample evidence of the masks’ lack of effectiveness.
3) What are the risks of this intervention?
Mask use in the context of COVID-19 [Interim Guidance by the WHO]
The WHO lists mask disadvantages: discomfort, headaches, breathing difficulties, self-contamination, facial lesions, a false sense of security and poor compliance, difficulty with communication, among others (WHO, December 2020).
“Several studies have demonstrated statistically significant deleterious effects on various cardiopulmonary physiologic parameters during mild to moderate exercise in healthy subjects and in those with underlying respiratory diseases.” (WHO, December 2020).
"12 high-risk volatile chemicals in medical masks were listed. This study could serve as a reference for identifying unknown substances and a guide for monitoring volatile chemicals in masks and promoting chemical safety improvements in products." (Liu et al., 2022)
“The analysis detected the following 11 dangerous pathogens on the masks [worn by children]: Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis), Neisseria meningitidis (meningitis, sepsis), Acanthamoeba polyphaga (keratitis and granulomatous amebic encephalitis), Acinetobacter baumanni (pneumonia, bloodstream infections, meningitis, UTIs—resistant to antibiotics), Escherichia coli (food poisoning), Borrelia burgdorferi (causes Lyme disease), Corynebacterium diphtheriae (diphtheria), Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires’ disease), Staphylococcus pyogenes serotype M3 (severe infections—high morbidity rates), Staphylococcus aureus (meningitis, sepsis)” (Cabrera, 2021)
"We measured 13,100 ppm [CO2] (SD 380) under surgical mask and 13,900 ppm (SD 370) under FFP2 [N95] mask in inhaled air.” “We measured 2,700 ppm (SD 100) CO2 at pre-baseline and 2,800 ppm (SD 100) at post-baseline. Appropriate contrasts revealed that the change was due to the masks only and the difference between the two types of masks was small and not significant. Wearing of NMC [Nose and mouth covering] (surgical masks or FFP2 masks) raises CO2 content in inhaled air quickly to a very high level in healthy children in a seated resting position that might be hazardous to children's health." (Walach et al., 2022)
“Impairments caused by wearing the mask were reported by 68% of the parents. These included irritability (60%), headache (53%), difficulty concentrating (50%), less happiness (49%), reluctance to go to school/kindergarten (44%), malaise (42%) impaired learning (38%) and drowsiness or fatigue (37%).” (Schwarz et al., April 2021).
Answer: Masks harm children.
At this point in time, about 50% of adults in Dubai breathe freely without masks -even indoors- while our children are still suffocating behind those masks. This is unjust cruelty towards children.
It’s time to let the children breathe freely.
It’s time for all of us to show that we have the children’s best interest at heart.
CALL TO ACTION:
Please consider proposing this idea to the KHDA, DHA, NCEMA and MOH.
All you have to do is COPY and PASTE.
KHDA: e-feedback, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please introduce a MASK EXEMPTION for students based on parental concerns over the physical, psychological and developmental harms of masks.
Please create an online form where parents can apply for an exemption for their children.
Parents can click one or all of the options below:
1. I am concerned my child cannot learn/focus on tasks optimally when wearing a mask
2. I am concerned about my child not acquiring language adequately when wearing a mask
3. I am concerned about my child not being able to express himself/herself properly when wearing a mask
4. I am concerned about the masks' harm to my child’s physical health: headaches, dizziness, low O2, increased risk of infection due to accumulated pathogens on the mask’s surface, allergy, rashes...
5. I am concerned about my child experiencing continuous anxiety and trauma due the the fear generated by mask mandates, reminding him/her of an imminent threat
6. I am concerned about the false sense of security associated with mask wearing. This might lead my child to disregard effective recommendations such as eating healthy, exercising and getting some sun to strengthen his/her immune system
The exemption is then generated automatically and sent to the child’s school and the parent’s email.
Abir Ballan, MPH
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