The increasing polarised and politicised views 1 on whether to wear masks in public during the current COVID-19 crisis hides a bitter truth on the state of contemporary research and the value we pose on clinical evidence to guide our decisions.
What do scientists do in the face of uncertainty on the value of global interventions? Usually, they seek an answer with adequately designed and swiftly implemented clinical studies as has been partly achieved with pharmaceuticals. We consider it is unwise to infer causation based on regional geographical observations as several proponents of masks have done. Spikes in cases can easily refute correlations, compliance with masks and other measures is often variable, and confounders cannot be accounted for in such observational research.