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YouTube Removes Video of DeSantis, Medical Experts over Claims That Children Don’t Need Masks

Then-candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis attends a campaign rally in South Daytona, Fla., November 4, 2018. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

YouTube has removed a video of a recent roundtable featuring Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and four medical experts in which the group questioned the effectiveness of requiring children to wear masks to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

DeSantis moderated the group’s discussion on the global response to the pandemic. The experts included Oxford epidemiologist Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Harvard professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford University and Dr. Scott Atlas, who served as a controversial coronavirus adviser to former President Donald Trump.

The video, posted by the American Institute for Economic Research, was deleted on Wednesday over comments by the doctors saying it is unnecessary for children to wear masks, a YouTube spokesperson reportedly told TheWrap.

The offending statements came when the Florida Republican asked if it was necessary for kids to wear masks in school, to which Kulldorff responded that “children should not wear face masks, no.”

“They don’t need it for their own protection and they don’t need it for protecting other people, either,” he added.

Bhattacharya similarly said it is “developmentally inappropriate” for children to wear masks and that it “just doesn’t help on the disease spread.”

“I think it’s absolutely not the right thing to do … if we went back a year, a lot of experts would say that wearing masks for the general public is not evidence-based,” he said.

Atlas also said “there’s no scientific rationale or logic to have children wear masks in schools.”

The doctors’ comments violated the site’s “COVID-19 medical misinformation” policies.

“YouTube has clear policies around COVID-19 medical misinformation to support the health and safety of our users,” the spokesperson said. “We removed AIER’s video because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We allow videos that otherwise violate our policies to remain on the platform if they contain sufficient educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic context. Our policies apply to everyone, and focus on content regardless of the speaker or channel.”

The World Health Organization says children 5 and under do not need to wear masks, while children between the ages of 6 and 11 should wear masks in areas of “widespread transmission.” Children ages 12 and older “should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults,” the agency says.

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