CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen Admits Masking Stunted Her Toddler’s Social Development

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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CNN medical analyst and former president of Planned Parenthood Dr. Leana Wen admitted Tuesday that masking her son during the COVID-19 pandemic stifled his language development and social life.

Wen wrote that she won’t be sending her kids to school in masks this fall in an op-ed for The Washington Post, despite previously being an ardent supporter of strict pandemic measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Now, Wen said, the reality of vaccines being available to everyone and the high transmissibility of new viral variants means masking kids isn’t worth the downsides.

“It became clear that the goal I’d hoped for — containment of covid-19 — was not reachable. This coronavirus is here to stay,” Wen wrote of the Omicron variant outbreak. “With this new, indefinite time frame, the benefit-risk calculus of mitigation measures shifted dramatically. I was willing to limit my children’s activities for a year or two but not for their entire childhood.”

Wen said she’s had both her kids, aged five and two, vaccinated against COVID-19, and she’s accepted that they will likely both become infected with the virus at some point during the school year. It will almost certainly be mild though, she reasoned, and further masking and sheltering them would make it harder for them to live happy and developed lives, while also hampering her and her husband’s freedom to work.

“Masking has harmed our son’s language development, and limiting both kids’ extracurriculars and social interactions would negatively affect their childhood and hinder my and my husband’s ability to work,” she wrote. (RELATED: Leana Wen Says Planned Parenthood Is Driven By An ‘Abortion-First Philosophy’)

She also clarified that her stance shouldn’t be viewed as anti-mask or minimizing the threat of COVID-19: “Rather, my approach to this school year reflects the evolution of the pandemic and the acknowledgment that avoiding covid-19 cannot be the singular metric of people’s overall health and well-being.”

Wen had previously taken positions that included saying the unvaccinated shouldn’t be able to leave their homes, showing support for vaccine passports and calling for schools to be closed for months at a time.