“Not in the classrooms because that is clearly nonsensical – you can’t teach with face coverings; you can’t expect people to learn with face coverings”. 

Well quite. Very much in line with what I have previously said on the matter of mask wearing.

But this time it wasn’t me. That was your Prime Minister, speaking back in August 2020. So, what more is there to say?

Well, plenty, actually. The pointless wearing of a face covering in a shop for a few tens of minutes is one thing, forcing a child to be muzzled for a full day of lessons is just barbaric. While this is screamingly obvious to anyone with just a smidgen of empathy left in their soul, those who need more ‘evidence’ might like to carefully digest this recent research from Germany that analysed data from over 25,000 children that had been forced to wear a mask for hours each day: “Impairments caused by wearing the mask were reported by 68 per cent of the parents. These included irritability (60 per cent), headache (53 per cent), difficulty concentrating (50 per cent), less happiness (49 per cent), reluctance to go to school/kindergarten (44 per cent), malaise (42 per cent) impaired learning (38 per cent) and drowsiness or fatigue (37 per cent)”.

And what about the nation’s 35,000 deaf pupils? Ian Noon, head of policy at the National Deaf Children’s Society has said that “bringing face masks into classrooms will have a devastating effect on deaf children’s studies, mental health and ability to take part in lessons.”

Consider this recent paper in the Lancet (February 2021), a cohort study from Spain during the peak of the epidemic: over 280 clusters were analysed in detail. The findings: “no association of risk of transmission with reported mask usage by contacts”. Last week, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control concluded that “evidence regarding the effectiveness of non-medical face masks for the prevention of Covid-19 is scarce”. So scarce, in fact, that one might be tempted, in fact, to conclude the precise opposite: there seems to be little or no correlation between the introduction of mask mandates and the spread of Covid-19. With cases of this seasonal disease collapsing all across the Northern Hemisphere – with scant regard for the severity of lockdowns, mask mandates or vaccine rollout – what is the point?

Could they even be spreading infections, rather than stopping them? Warm, moist environments are fantastic breeding grounds for bacteria – and it might not be wise to have these strapped to the front of our respiratory tracts. Furthermore, how about a helping of microfibres to further pollute our airways? And that is before we get into breathing difficulties, anxiety, impeding communications (“you can’t expect people to learn with face coverings”, etc.), removing facial expression and hiding identities… the list goes on.

But none of this is new. In case it had escaped everyone’s notice, children benefit from training their immune systems, and we do too.

It is hard to argue against measures that demonstrably benefit society as a whole – but even then, there are limits on what can be imposed on an individual. It is why we have ethics committees in all walks of life. For want of spelling it out, we do not conduct experiments on poor, ill, vulnerable people, and especially not on minors.

Mask mandates imposed on children are such an experiment. A grand hocus pocus. The ultimate placebo.

One can possibly forgive our flapping, hapless leadership for flailing around in the dark back in March and April 2020. But the subsequent spineless surrender to hearsay, mathematical ‘modelling’ and quackery that would have been laughed out of court in Victorian times, has been, to put it mildly, a bit of a disappointment.

This is a Great Wrong, a plumbing of new depths. Those that dreamt this guidance up should be relieved of any ‘duties’ they may be performing at taxpayer’s expense. Those that enforce this guidance should be eternally ashamed of themselves.

Suffer the children. We had Fears for Tiers, but it seems like a worse nightmare is upon us – a society turning on its young.

Dr Alex Starling (@alexstarling77) is an advisor to and non-executive director of various early-stage technology companies.