The researchers behind a large and unique Danish study on the effect of wearing a mask have great difficulties in getting their research results published. One of the participating professors in the study concedes that the still secret research result could be considered ‘controversial’.
For weeks, media and researchers all over the world have been awaiting the publication of a large Danish study on the effect – or lack thereof – of walking with facemasks in public spaces during the corona pandemic.
Now one of the researchers involved in the study can report that the finished research result has been rejected by at least three of the world’s leading medical journals.
These are The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine and the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA.
“They all said no,” says Professor, MD and chief medical officer at the research department at North Sealand Hospital, Christian Torp-Pedersen.
However, the professor does not wish to provide the justification given by the journals.
“We cannot begin to discuss what they are dissatisfied with, because if we did, we also have to explain what the study showed, and we do not want to discuss it until it is published,” explains Christian Torp-Pedersen.
The study was launched at the end of April following a grant of 5 million kroner from the Salling Funds. It involved as many as 6,000 Danes, half of whom had to wear facemasks over a longer period of time in public spaces. The other half was selected as a control group.
A larger proportion of the test participants were employees of Salling Group’s supermarkets: Bilka, Føtex and Netto.
The study and its size are unique in the world, and the aim was once and for all to try to clarify the extent to which the use of facemasks in public spaces provides protection against corona infection.
For the same reason, the researchers behind the study have regularly received inquiries from both Danish and international media with queries as to when the results are available. In the research world, it is good practice not to comment on a research result until it has been published in a recognised so-called peer review journal.
However, the question of publication was approached by another of the study’s participating researchers, professor at Hvidovre Hospital’s infectious disease department, Thomas Lars Benfield, on Sunday. It happened in an email shared on Twitter by former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson. The professor’s answer:
“As soon as a journal is brave enough to accept the study.”
Thomas Lars Benfield does not wish to elaborate in detail on what he means by the fact that a journal must be ‘brave’ to publish the study. However, he writes in an email to Berlingske:
“The quote is a bit out of context. The article is being reviewed by a respected journal. We have decided not to publish data until the article is accepted.”
However, Thomas Lars Benfield’s co-researcher on the study, Christian Torp-Pedersen, says that he “might have answered the question in a similar way as Benfield did”.
Does this mean that your research result may be perceived as controversial in some people’s eyes?
“That’s how I would interpret it, too.”
Can a controversial research result be interpreted as not demonstrating any significant effect of mask use in your study?
“I think it’s a very relevant question you’re asking.”
It must be up to the readers themselves to judge what should be put into these answers.
However, if the Danish research result is indeed “controversial”, and if it is believed that no evidence has been found of any major effect of facemask use in public spaces, it will be highly spectacular.
For in that case, one must question the expediency of the fact that the vast majority of the world’s population currently walks around with a mask in their pocket or on their face.On the Suppressed Danish Mask Study