Physicians traditionally took the Hippocratic Oath. This was based upon the ancient Greek physician’s approach to bioethics. For example, Hippocrates said, “I will use those … regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.” But just because you may do no harm does not necessarily mean you are doing any good.

Citizens, patients, and physicians can read. In British Columbia, for example, we find that the province is reinstating mask mandates in health-care settings. Is there any empirical evidence to justify this? Does this measure do any good?

One of the best places to start with this question is the study “Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.” (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Jan. 30, 2023). With multiple randomized clinical trials in over 600,000 people, the empirical evidence indicates no clear reduction of respiratory viral infections, whether wearing medical/surgical masks or N95/P2 masks. In fact, even restricting the data to wearing masks of health-care workers during routine care did not prevent respiratory viral infection.

Yet, B.C. has reinstated mask mandates. What gives? As the Hippocratic Oath describes, what is the point of doing something that is of no benefit? You might say, “But Dr. Lange, what’s the big deal about masks? They’re just masks.” The big deal is that our culture will collapse if it tries to live in the midst of lies. It is no way to have a healthy civilization.

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