Dr. Marty Makary: There’s No Point in Masking Kids

BUCK: We promised you a discussion right now with an expert, Dr. Marty Makary, who’s got a piece up at the Wall Street Journal, “The Case Against Masks for Children,” and that subheading is, “It’s abusive to force kids who struggle with them to sacrifice for the sake of unvaccinated adults.” Dr. Makary is with us now. Doc, how you doing?

DR. MAKARY: Good to be with you.

BUCK: So, you’re talking to two people here had who are certainly opposed to masks on children and we can even talk more broadly about the overall effectiveness of masks maybe a few minutes here, Doc. But first, what is your case for children when it comes to masking or not?

DR. MAKARY: Well, despite the title of the article, I’m very pro-mask. I wrote the first piece calling for universal masking in the New York Times (chuckles) last year at the beginning of the pandemic. But kids are different. And when we require every kid to wear a cloth mask — when we know the outbreaks are regionalized and we know 40% of adolescents now are vaccinated — we gotta think about the downsides.

We’ve been acting as if there’s no harm, and the reality is 5% of kids have physical and cognitive disabilities. They struggle. Twenty-five percent kids wear glasses; they fog up. Forty percent of anxiety is related to changes in breathing, which we know masks create. You lose the phonetic visualization that is responsible in development of speech. There’s all these other things, dermatologic problems. So some kids do well with masks. Go ahead and wear a mask. They should. The kids who struggle, we gotta pay attention to them.

BUCK: What do you say to parents, doctor: “My kids are very low risk and don’t spread it; I don’t think they should have to wear a mask, period”?

DR. MAKARY: Areas where there’s low levels of infection, I think that’s reasonable. Right now, we’re just saying that in areas of active outbreaks — because you can spread it even though you feel fine, you’re asymptomatic — we can ask kids to be a little careful. Remember, mask rank is number four in terms of mitigation. It comes after ventilation, number one, and then distancing and podding. Wearing a little cloth mask has minimal or negligible impact. So if we’re gonna cover their faces for two years… Okay, a couple of weeks —

BUCK: Wait, wait. Hold on a sec, Doc. This is important. You just said “minimal and negligible,” but you told me that you’re in favor of universal masking. So if it’s minimal or negligible, why would you be in favor of universal masking?

DR. MAKARY: So for adults I’ve been advocating for universal masking.

BUCK: Right.

DR. MAKARY: At times where there’s outbreaks, at times where there are outbreaks for kids, though, it’s gotta be optional, it’s gotta be regionalized, it’s gotta be limited to areas where there’s an active outbreak and a lot of concern because it’s better for them to be in school than not to be in school.

CLAY: Doctor, I appreciate you coming on with us. I’m reading your article, I read it this morning the Wall Street Journal and encourage people to do that as well. You cite a North Carolina study that looked at 90,000 students and said that basically there was not a substantial impact — in fact, not a single case of student-to-teacher transmission. And then you also site another data point here which I want to build upon a little bit.

You say the CDC reports for the week of July 31st, the rate of hospitalization with covid for kids 5 to 17 was 0.5 per million, which means roughly 25 patients. We hear a lot of people out there spreading the idea that the Delta variant is particularly dangerous to children. Based on the data that you have seen so far, is that true?

DR. MAKARY: No. It doesn’t appear so. There’s more infection out there. So more kids are getting it, and some large children’s hospitals have 10 to 20 cases of kids with covid in their hospital, a couple whom are very sick. Hardly any kid is dying of covid. More kids are in the hospital right now with RSV, which is the infection that causes the common cold.

And just to clear: Unvaccinated adults need to be careful in indoor public settings, and I encourage them to get vaccinated if they don’t have natural immunity. Everyone else should be living a normal life with some reasonable precautions if there’s an active outbreak. But otherwise, we can’t be hunkering down forever because if so we’re gonna be in this criteria in perpetuity.

CLAY: Dr. Makary, is the obsession with masking for children really just an outgrowth of adult anxiousness? If there’s no scientific basis for it, why in the world has this now continued, as you said, not even for one year, but on into two years for many kids out there?

DR. MAKARY: Well, when I talk to parents about the issue of masking and kids, what I hear overwhelmingly is, “I’ll do it if that’s what the unions need to get our kids in person,” but that’s not a medical argument. The medical evaluation of masks shows that there’s no benefit to cloth masks in areas of low or substantial covid risk transmission in the community — and in areas with a severe outbreak, there’s a minimal benefit.

So we’re making these arguments as if there’s no harm to the mask, and that’s what I think has been missing from this. Kids are losing that human connection and that’s important for them to visualize emotions, communicate, facial expressions, to visualize the pronunciation of words. So that’s what we’re missing out on right now, and we don’t know the implications of the change in breathing partners in kids long-term. Put a mask on a kid for couple weeks, they may do well, couple months. But now we’re coming on two years, and you gotta just factor that in.

BUCK: Doc, it seems like, though… Again, it brings us back to just focusing on the children component of this for a second, I’m not clear on howwe can’t just say, “It’s unreasonable to require children to mask, period.” I’m hearing a lot of, well, maybe, if there’s a major outbreak or something but if children are at almost no risk, very unlikely to spread, masks have a minimal benefit, why isn’t the medical community willing to just say masking of kids is pointless or largely pointless?

DR. MAKARY: I think the medical establishment made up their minds before any data came in.

BUCK: Yeah.

DR. MAKARY: We’ve seen this with vaccines and with all kinds of stuff. If you listen to the CDC director there talking about, “We gotta do all this stuff until we get a vaccine for kids under 12.” Well, how did you make up your mind about vaccines and kids under 12? The clinical trial is ongoing. It hasn’t read out. The data are not even out there yet. So I think you see a lot of that in public policy right now.

BUCK: And also on the issue of boosters, I feel like they’re playing hide the football here, they’re playing games. We’ll see a report… I know this isn’t about masks, but we’ve you on.

DR. MAKARY: (laughs)

BUCK: We got an actual doc, Clay, and we have to ask ask Doc questions.

CLAY: (chuckles)

You got boosters. Moderna is looking to get authorization for a third. So, I mean, do they know whether these vaccines fade in effectiveness pretty quickly or not? What are the things that we don’t know now about this that we should know and that the medical establishment is pretending to know? Because there’s certainly been that in the past.

DR. MAKARY: Yeah. So the boosters has been a conversation largely driven by the pharma industry to date. Now, it turns out that boosters may have a role for those who are immunosuppressed that we give to our transplant recipients sometimes, maybe seniors. But the general public has immunity with vaccinations or natural immunity that appears to be protective against severe illness and death long-term.

So if that’s the case, do we really want to push boosters to prevent a mild common cold seasonal illness? I don’t think that’s the conversation that has been happening. It’s been, “Oh, you may have to get a booster to save your life,” and, again, we’ve been ignoring natural immunity. It turns out the protection from natural immunity is probably better than from vaccines.

CLAY: We’ve talked about that quite a bit, Buck and I have, because we both had covid ourselves, and so do you believe based on the data that you’ve seen that natural immunity, that is, people who have had covid are likely to have better immunity going forward than people who have gotten vaccinated immunity?

DR. MAKARY: It appears so. We’re not seeing people who recovered from covid get severe illness. We just don’t see it. It’s exceedingly rare. It’s like Bigfoot. You know, people say they’ve seen a case, but we don’t really have any real evidence of that. It’s super, super rare.

BUCK: Dr. Makary, have you seen some of the editorials, commentaries from major news publications in recent days — ’cause I’ve certainly seen them — where all the sudden there are two new storylines that are being pushed right now? One is that, “Oh, actually vaccination is much more effective at preventing when it comes to reinfection than natural immunity.” That’s point one. But also that children… There are stories — CNN had something over the weekend — about how ICUs are overloaded with kids. I ask people about this; I’ve been chasing this down. It just looks like a lie. Am I missing something?

DR. MAKARY: Well, on your first point about where do we stand with natural immunity, you’re 6.7 times more effective in an Israeli study than vaccinated immunity, natural immunity was better. The CDC put out some sham report on Friday saying vaccinated immunity was better. You know what the infection rate was of those with natural immunity in that study the CDC put out? 0.09%. And they said that was 2.3 times higher than those with vaccinations.

BUCK: Okay. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s just ridiculous.

DR. MAKARY: And it was in one state, Kentucky. Why are they reporting one state when they have data on 50 states? They did something called statistical fishing. You run it in all 50 states, and you show the state that gives you the results you want. It’s very dishonest. Natural immunity is real. It’s effective. It’s 15 months and going strong, and it’s probably better than vaccinated the immunity. Get the vaccine, I think, if you’re an adult that has not had natural immunity, but we gotta recognize it.

BUCK: And then about the children being hit harder by this than ever before and how hospitals are gonna be filled up with kids, ’cause that’s also a news story that’s out there.

DR. MAKARY: Hospitals are normally filled up. That’s what people don’t recognize.

CLAY: Right.

DR. MAKARY: They’re normally full.

CLAY: That’s a good point. I’m glad you bring this up. Because the entire purpose of an ICU is to be full, right? People have this idea that the ICU should be empty. But the purpose of a hospital is to have a full ICU very often, right?

DR. MAKARY: Hospitals have been functioning with just-in-time capacity for a long time. They normally run 90 plus, sometimes 99% at capacity. And when we get transfers precovid, half of them get either delayed or declined because the, quote, unquote, hospital’s full. So we gotta put things in perspective. Now, in the South and areas of these active outbreaks with these large children centers they do have 10 or 20 kids in there with covid. They have more kids with RSV in there right now.

BUCK: Okay. So that’s a great point. There are more kids with basically the common cold, you know, virus that has gotten really bad for them in the hospital in these areas than with covid. I think that pretty much shatters — ’cause, Doctor, there’s this narrative out there right now of the kids are in ICUs and this is the new scare tactic. So you’re telling me that’s basically garbage?

DR. MAKARY: Well, the variant is the way the scare tactic works. But with kids it’s about 250. We just corrected the number in the Wall Street Journal: 250 kids a week have gone to the hospital nationwide, and it’s a little less than RSV infection.

BUCK: Wow.

CLAY: And for people out there who don’t know, RSV infection is a cold.

DR. MAKARY: Right.

CLAY: So you’re talking about a substantial difference there. Doc, this is fantastic. I encourage people to go read your opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal and more. Thanks for joining us here.

DR. MAKARY: Thanks so much, guys.

BUCK: Dr. Makary, I really appreciate it, man. He’s very knowledgeable guy. Clay, we can have real discussions about covid here on this show without like Facebook saying “not allowed.” Isn’t that so nice?


CLAY: Dr. Marty Makary was just with us. He’s got a Wall Street Journal editorial. Man, I thought he was fantastic. “The case against masks for children.” I am Clay Travis. He is Buck Sexton. And if you were just listening to us have that discussion with him, there are so many different interesting details that we could discuss that he laid out for us. But, Buck, I think maybe the two most intriguing are, one — ’cause this matters.

There’s a lot of parents out there, including me, who have kids back in school, and the mask debate is going to be very real. And there is no evidence whatsoever to support the idea of masking children as making it safer. Also, there isn’t, according to Dr. Makary, some massive number of kids that are hospitalized with covid, which is what you’re being sold by the media right now.

That there’s this massive amount of otherwise healthy children that got covid and now they’re in danger and being hospitalized. Also, we continue to discuss this story because I do think it’s significant. Dr. Makary just told us that people who have natural immunity have roughly six times as much protection as people who are getting vaccinated immunity, and so all of those things are counter to the narrative that we are being sold all day long, every day.

BUCK: Why don’t we all know that, Clay?

CLAY: That’s a great question.

BUCK: Why isn’t that statistic on in front of a everyone’s minds right now? Why isn’t that something that when I ask people if they know…? By the way, you and I read about this all this, correct?

CLAY: Yes.

BUCK: This is probably the subject that we’ve had to read about more the last 18 months than any other thing in existence, ’cause obviously nothing else really comes close in terms of how much it affects our day-to-day lives, and I didn’t know the 6X figure. I know natural immunity based on the Cleveland Clinic study was at least as good, but substantially better, substantially better than vaccination?

CLAY: Yes.

BUCK: Is Dr. Makary lying? I don’t think so. So since he’s not and he’s telling us the truth, why isn’t that out everywhere? Well, Clay, it gets a lot harder to justify the one-size-fits-all, “Sit down, shut up, peasant; take the shot in your arm” mentality when you also have to sit there and say, “Well, hold on a second? Do you have natural immunity? If you do, we’re gonna leave you alone.” How do you account for that in all this? They don’t want to account for it. It’s about control. You see it, I see it, everybody with us now listen knows they want to control you.

CLAY: It’s a one-size-fits-all policy that fits a tiny percentage. There’s data out from Massachusetts. Remember, this is where the CDC looked to make their change based on vaccinated people getting covid. The people that are being hospitalized average age 82-1/2 in Massachusetts, nearly identical to covid from the get-go, which is why we’ve said if you are elderly, go ahead and get your covid vaccine. But this idea that the Delta variant has totally changed everything is, frankly, a lie based on what Dr. Makary just told us.