- Daniel Andrews has been humiliated after his 'world-first' study labelled 'crap'
- Victorian Premier mandated masks in outdoor settings during 112-day lockdown
- People were subjected to outdoor mask use despite no scientific proof
- Leading Australian scientists said use of report for legislation is 'staggering'
- One anonymous leading clinician said report was 'crap', 'weak' and 'feeble'
A 'world-first' study that Dan Andrews used to justify his mandatory mask mandate has been ridiculed by top experts.
The report was published by the Burnet Institute supporting the Victorian premier's outdoor mask mandate during the 112-day lockdown in 2020.
The report found 'mandatory mask use policy substantially increased public use of masks and was associated with a significant decline in new Covid-19 cases after introduction of the policy' and it 'strongly supported' the use of masks outdoors. Mr Andrews introduced the mandate from July without providing any scientific justification, as only a handful of outdoor transmissions have ever been recorded.
The policy has since been widely criticised by Australian scientists and was labelled by an anonymous clinician as 'crap'.
'I agree, it's crap,' he told News Corp.
'It's extremely lightweight. I think it's a totally feeble article. It doesn't have a rigorous methodology and it is weak in its scientific inference.' Mr Andrews made the decision based on the report, which made the case for 'the use of masks for controlling epidemics in the broader community.'
Despite no reported cases of outdoor transmission of coronavirus, Victorians were subjected to months of universal mask use. The study, published on Plos One, claimed the use of masks as the 'single most important control measure'. It claimed masks 'turned an exponential increase in community transmission into an exponential decrease, almost overnight'. A co-author was quoted as saying the 'key finding' of the study was 'that masks work' and cast doubt on the theories around outdoor transmission.
'Whilst we are confident that masks are highly effective indoors, we don't know how much more effective they are indoors compared to outdoors,' the co-author said in the journal. 'Importantly given the growing evidence of outdoor transmission of the Delta variant, it makes sense that masks are worn both indoors and outdoors during a Covid-19 outbreak.'
Dr Kyle Sheldrick, a medical researcher at the University of New South Wales, said the Andrews Government using the study as a basis for policymaking is 'staggering'.
'There has been a lot of low-quality research that has come out in the pandemic, but for this to be used as a basis for a policy change is staggering,' he said. 'To me it's very clear this has not had a close peer review, partly because of the serious and substantive issues, but [also] it just clearly hasn't been proofread.'
Studies by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said despite recommending mask use ' there is limited data from community settings supporting mask use'. A trial in Denmark showed there was no decrease in transmission between people spreading the virus outdoors while wearing masks. The study also used images from news outlets including Daily Mail Australia and The Age as proof mask use increased, something experts labelled as further proof the evidence was 'useless'. 'Even ignoring the fact that the photos were taken for an editorial purpose, that this is not a random sample, when you look at the actual data in the Excel spreadsheet it is stunning to me,' Dr Sheldrick said.
A spreadsheet attached to the study showed the time, date, and location of images as justification the mandate was working. There was no correlation between the time of editorial images being taken and published, with sets coming from morning and afternoon. 'Which just means the data set is useless,' Dr Sheldrick said. 'As a responsible researcher, I can't draw any conclusions from that. 'You could just as easily draw the conclusion that mask wearing is different in the morning and afternoon.
'If a student came to me and said, I'm going to compare these two sets of photos and draw some conclusion about whether a policy worked, you would send them away to think about it.'