Are Masks Useful After All? Not Likely.

 

Until a week or two ago, all I’d heard in a long time about masks indicated they were doing more harm than good. Sure, it made sense when we thought we might have a child-killer spreading through coughing. But then, even back in 2020, we starting hearing that Covid doesn’t hurt kids much. We also learned that the virus doesn’t spread much by coughing. It’s aerosolized; it spreads through infected people just breathing it out, and when they do it’s small enough to go both through and around cloth masks and regular surgical masks. And then Omicron came., replicating in the outer airways 70 times as fast as Delta, which was already a much faster-spreading virus than the original Covid.

There’s no stopping this thing with masks, which are not harmless in any case, and little to no slowing of it.  Don’t trust me, of course. I’m a dang philosopher. Trust reliable sources on the internet–if you can find any.  But does that count the New England Journal of Medicine? Some authors there say masks can at least prevent the spread of the virus.

Some Problems with the NEJM Article

Now there are any other problems with the article’s reasoning.  It doesn’t stick to medical science, and spins its own supposed discoveries as a great way of fighting structural racism.  It ignores the harm done by masks–the unhealthiness of breathing through sweaty face diapers, the developmental delays in small children who can’t see adults’ mouths when they’re trying to learn how to talk, the cruelty to asthmatics.  It ignores the relative harmlessness of Omicron–generally ranging from mild cold to bad flu, and that’s only for the people who actually have symptoms.  It ignores the fact that probably somewhere between 75 and 95 percent of us have had some kind of Covid by now anyway.

Basically, as it seems to me, there’s no awareness of the need to do any cost-benefit analysis. Nor of the superior abilities of people, who know their own situation better than centralized bureaucrats, to do their own analysis for their own dang selves.

Still, if there really is some actual evidence here that masks really do have the benefit of preventing some Covid infections, I would like to know that.  My early-2020 optimism about masks has since given way to a deep pessimism about masks.  Was I wrong then, or am I wrong now?

The Article’s Main Argument

So let’s look at the NEJM article’s argument for that conclusion.  From what I can understand, these guys are comparing Boston schools without mask requirements and Boston schools with mask requirements and finding that during the April-June Omicron spike there were more positive Covid cases in the schools that lifted mask requirements.

Something like . . . 45/1,000 more people getting Covid over a space of 15 weeks.

This is illustrated in the article’s Figure 1, which shows higher Covid rates for the schools that dropped the mask mandates.

They conclude from this that the lack of masks is likely the reason these schools had more Omicron cases.

Ok. Seems to make sense. And, to their credit, they make some effort to rule out other possible causes–e.g., the schools that kept the mask mandates and had less Covid were also the ones that had worse “ventilation or filtration systems,” so when some schools had higher Covid rates it wasn’t because they had worse air systems.

But I’m kind of interested in something else: Figure 2.   If I’m reading it properly, the same schools with the higher Covid rates after dropping mask requirements also had higher Covid rates during the December-January spike.

So this raises a darn big question: How are we supposed to know whether these schools were not just more prone to getting Covid for some reason not considered in the article?  (There are plenty of possible explanations I can think of–something about their location, schoolkids’ parents’ jobs, or what a few clusters of first-graders sometimes do on the weekend–and many more I can’t even think of.) The reason they got even more Covid during the next Omicron spike is simply that the next version of Omicron was spreading even faster.

That was my initial, provisional concern with the article.

Other Problems with the Article

Apparent Dr. Vinay Prasad had some objections as well.   Dr. Prasad says this study is not a randomized control trial; it’s just an observational study. But a randomized control trial is what we need.  This would not be difficult, but Fauci is against it, and won’t fund it, and instead we’re funding these “observational studies that fit a certain narrative.”

That’s an important objection!  Do you remember why they were saying back in 2020 that chloroquine didn’t have good science in its favor?  It was because it didn’t have any randomized controlled studies–you know, the kind we still apparently don’t have for masks either.

Sheesh.

Dr. Prasad recommends reading this piece on Substack by Dr. Tracy Beth Høeg.  It’s a nice, detailed look at many things wrong with the NEJM piece.  I don’t notice Høeg looking over my particular concern, but I am pleased that she, Dr. Prasad, and I are all worried about other causes of a difference in Covid rates that the article does not sufficiently rule out.

And golly–Dr. Høeg did a great job critiquing the NEJM article!  Her article has some of the same concerns as Dr. Prasad.  It also has this insight: The NEJM study assumes that Covid spread outside of school is caused by Covid spread inside school, and not vice versa.  That’s a heckuvan assumption there.  And Høeg links to some other studies that indicate little to no benefit of masks.

“Let Us Hear the Conclusion of the Whole Matter”

Not that I find all this easy to understand.  But if I’m provisionally trusting someone, whom am I going to trust–the freethinker on Substack or the establishmentarians jabbering about structural racism and calling it medical science?

In short, the NEJM article notwithstanding, it is still perfectly reasonable to think that masks are not useful against Covid–that they are doing more harm than good.  As far as I can tell, the available evidence still points to that conclusion.

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  1. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Saint Augustine:

    Something like . . . 45/1,000 more people getting Covid over a space of 15 weeks.

    This is illustrated in the article’s Figure 1, which shows higher Covid rates for the schools that dropped the mask mandates.

    They conclude from this that the lack of masks is likely the reason these schools had more Omicron cases.

    Another concern with the article:

    Just 45 out of a thousand more Covid cases over 15 weeks. That’s three out of a thousand extra people getting Covid each week.  Is that worth all the disadvantages of masks?

    • #1
  2. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Just 45 out of a thousand more Covid cases over 15 weeks. That’s three out of a thousand extra people getting Covid each week.  Is that worth all the disadvantages of masks?

    No.

    The masks we’ve been told to wear are useless theater.  Now a properly fitted N-95 mask used by a trained person, perhaps that might have a effect.  But the face diapers?  Not a chance.

    • #2
  3. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    From America’s Newspaper of Record ™

     

    • #3
  4. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    Saint Augustine: it is still perfectly reasonable to think that masks are not useful against Covid–that they are doing more harm than good.  As far as I can tell, the available evidence still points to that conclusion.

    Back in early 2020, when most people were fighting over toilet paper at Cosco, I used google to search the CDC website for articles published before 2020 regarding masks and respiratory diseases.   The best article was a meta-study from 2017 that summed up the CDC’s knowledge about masking.   The conclusion was that masks have some positive effect for medical professionals in controlled situations, but no positive effect for the general public.   The CDC was probably trustworthy back before masking became a tool for population control.. 

    • #4
  5. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Ah, the NEJM. How I made so much Ricochet hay, back in the day, reviewing its splutterings about Ebola, and Mesoamerican nephropathy, and something called allofus-dot-org, about which I appear to have said “In 2016 President Barack W. Obama – I’ve pixillated his middle initial to obscure his identity and maybe that’ll be done for you if you sign up for this giant research initiative – decreed something that would, uh, diversify the information upon which medical inquiry depends. Some subpopulations were said to have been underrepresented in such inquiry, but not if All of Us get looked at.” Good times.

    I’m not a philosopher, and long ago I stopped being a biochemist. Which most non-physician contributors to NEJM also stopped being. Still, I had to look. I did not stop looking when I got to “Latinx” in the cited article. I did however pause at “45/1,000 more people getting Covid over a space of 15 weeks” in the OP. Maybe I’m just a y-axis kind of guy, and to the extent I can do this with a beer in my hand an integrate-under-the-curve kind of guy, but aren’t numbers like that small? And their significance, in a population that is pretty young, even smaller?

    • #5
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    It doesn’t matter if masks work.

    Incidentally, I typed in the name of the article and couldn’t find this article on Google.  I typed in same name in Bing & it showed up at the top.

    Hmmm… 

    • #6
  7. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    I dithered so long over my comment- must’ve been the the beer in my hand –  @saintaugustine and @clavius anticipated it! 

    • #7
  8. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: it is still perfectly reasonable to think that masks are not useful against Covid–that they are doing more harm than good. As far as I can tell, the available evidence still points to that conclusion.

    Back in early 2020, when most people were fighting over toilet paper at Cosco, I used google to search the CDC website for articles published before 2020 regarding masks and respiratory diseases. The best article was a meta-study from 2017 that summed up the CDC’s knowledge about masking. The conclusion was that masks have some positive effect for medical professionals in controlled situations, but no positive effect for the general public. The CDC was probably trustworthy back before masking became a tool for population control..

    No, the CDC wasn’t trustworthy.  They just didn’t know they were going to have to deny this fairly obvious bit of science in the near future.

    • #8
  9. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    It seems to me that there are over one-hundred thousand real world laboratories that have data on mask wearing.  Those would be all the cities, States, and Countries of the world where public mask mandates were implemented. Due to the obsessive compulsion to keep statistics on this Covid virus, we have reams of data on how many infections were detected in every single district where mask mandates were enacted.  I have yet to see a graph line of infections that was perturbed in any way up or down when mask mandates were implemented or rescinded. 

    • #9
  10. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Here’s my big dumb question for the experts:

    The theory is that medical masks, while having openings five times larger than the virus, is still effective at capturing the virus because the viruses are trapped in water droplets large enough to be snagged by the mask mesh.  Now if the mask is catching all these viruses trapped in water droplets, what happens when the droplets evaporate?  the virus does not magically disappear.  It has to go somewhere, and evaporation of a microscopic water droplet must surely occur within minutes if not seconds of it entering the mask.

    • #10
  11. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    It seems to me that there are over one-hundred thousand real world laboratories that have data on mask wearing. 

     There is a big difference between retrospective observational data, and prospective placebo controled studies. But to your point, we might have expected to see some benefit of masks by now. Benefits which would be fairly clear. And we’ve seen none so far.

    But again, careful here.  Hard to avoid biases in collection & analysis of observational data…

    • #11
  12. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Unless worn in the first six weeks of an outbreak, masks have no value.

    But mask mandates did have an intrinsic value. The mask mandates helped those among us who look at things logically to understand what a hoax this all was.

    Consider this: Only because of the mask mandates did so many public officials come out to tell us that once the vaccines rolled out, and enough of us got our injection, we could then quit wearing the masks.

    Yippee!! Except in short order, even as between 50 to 70% of humanity complied with vax mandates, the same officials told us that “Oops! We didn’t get that right. You will still need to wear the masks even if you have gotten vaxxed.”

    In other words:

    Citizen 54432: “Now that I have received my vaccine, I don’t have to wear my mask any more.”

    Health Official: “You still must wear your mask! You also can’t go back to work unless you get tested and your test is negative.”

    Citizen 54432: “But the PCR tests are error prone. And if I still have to wear the mask, and still need to be tested, what was the point of the vaccine?”

    Health Official: “So you won’t  D-I-E!!”

    Citizen 54432: “But I have a 99.97% chance of not dying even without the vaccine!”

    Health Official “Yes and the vaccine gives you a 95% chance of not dying as well. So that adds up to a 194.7% chance of not dying from COVID. Follow the science!”

    So was this a great teaching experience in terms of understanding science, or what?

    • #12
  13. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    I haven’t worn a mask in months. I’ve moved on to the flu and RSV prevention. I’m done with covid.

    • #13
  14. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Saint Augustine:

    It ignores the harm done by masks–the unhealthiness of breathing through sweaty face diapers, the developmental delays in small children who can’t see adults’ mouths when they’re trying to learn how to talk, the cruelty to asthmatics.

    The massive waste of resources.  The science indicating they can make Covid worse by causing outer airways viruses to accumulate in the mask and then be breathed deeper into the lungs.

    Etc.

    • #14
  15. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    It’s hard to believe that when you’re walking through, say, a grocery store, and there might be a few areas where there are clouds of virus floating, that you’d be better off without a mask then with one. When you walk through the cloud, which you’re in for only a few seconds, the virus sticks on your mask and doesn’t go up your nose. At least most of it does which means you’re better off than if you hadn’t worn one. And since you’re only wearing it for a few minutes, what’s the harm?

    That’s really the only time I still use one, places where there are large amounts of people indoors and where I’m not going to be spending a whole lot of time. If I’ve decided to spend a lot more time inside, such as going out to dinner, then I’m just going to take my chances without a mask. Because in that situation, even if I wore it the whole time, chances are it wouldn’t help due to the time spent inside.

    We don’t need studies to tell us that what our common sense says is right or wrong.

    • #15
  16. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    W Bob (View Comment):
    We don’t need studies to tell us that what our common sense says is right or wrong.

    Yes we do.

    • #16
  17. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    W Bob (View Comment):

    It’s hard to believe that when you’re walking through, say, a grocery store, and there might be a few areas where there are clouds of virus floating, that you’d be better off without a n with one. When you walk through the cloud, which you’re in for only a few seconds, the virus sticks on your mask and doesn’t go up your nose. At least most of it does which means you’re better off than if you hadn’t worn one. And since you’re only wearing it for a few minutes, what’s the harm?

    That’s really the only time I still use one, places where there are large amounts of people indoors and where I’m not going to be spending a whole lot of time. If I’ve decided to spend a lot more time inside, such as going out to dinner, then I’m just going to take my chances without a mask. Because in that situation, even if I wore it the whole time, chances are it wouldn’t help due to the time spent inside.

    We don’t need studies to tell us that what our common sense says is right or wrong.

    I would not sneeze into a cloth handkerchief and then keep it on my face, snot droplets and all, for the rest of the day and don’t ask others to do that. I ask that they stay home if they are sick.

    Unless the mask is properly fitted, the air with all its particles will leak in and out of the sides. A false sense of protection can be as dangerous as no protection.

    We have an artificial virus, new to mankind thanks to Fauci, so our bodies need exposure to develop immunities. Our useless defense procedures have prolonged this process giving the virus time to mutate. They have not prevented us from getting it.

    Having done the gas chamber numerous times and been trained for chem-bio warfare defense, I know what level of masking and filtration (and decontamination) the military thought we needed to provide protection. I laugh at the idea of flimsy masks..

    Any time “common sense” is used, insert “nonsense” if we are talking about global worming and guns and “opinion” if we are talking about other things. Normalizing masks has given criminals a leg up. In many places they are illegal per laws that are now being ignored. Because each of us has our own health issues, I generally avoid telling people what to do. When I see people with masks, I don’t assume they are healthy people protecting themselves but unwell people in public.

    • #17
  18. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

     

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):

    It’s hard to believe that when you’re walking through, say, a grocery store, and there might be a few areas where there are clouds of virus floating, that you’d be better off without a n with one. When you walk through the cloud, which you’re in for only a few seconds, the virus sticks on your mask and doesn’t go up your nose. At least most of it does which means you’re better off than if you hadn’t worn one. And since you’re only wearing it for a few minutes, what’s the harm?

    That’s really the only time I still use one, places where there are large amounts of people indoors and where I’m not going to be spending a whole lot of time. If I’ve decided to spend a lot more time inside, such as going out to dinner, then I’m just going to take my chances without a mask. Because in that situation, even if I wore it the whole time, chances are it wouldn’t help due to the time spent inside.

     

    I would not sneeze into a cloth handkerchief and then keep it on my face, snot droplets and all, for the rest of the day and don’t ask others to do that. I ask that they stay home if they are sick.

    Unless the mask is properly fitted, the air with all its particles will leak in and out of the sides. A false sense of protection can be as dangerous as no protection.

    We have an artificial virus, new to mankind thanks to Fauci, so our bodies need exposure to develop immunities. Our useless defense procedures have prolonged this process giving the virus time to mutate. They have not prevented us from getting it.

    Any time “common sense” is used, insert “nonsense” if we are talking about global worming and guns and “opinion” if we are talking about other things. Normalizing masks has given criminals a leg up. In many places they are illegal per laws that are now being ignored. Because each of us has our own health issues, I generally avoid telling people what to do. When I see people with masks, I don’t assume they are healthy people protecting themselves but unwell people in public.

    Yes, masks leak, and the virus can stick to them which means you don’t want to wear it on your face for hours. But would you feel better if the virus went up your nose instead? And viral dosage might play a role with how sick you get. Masks can reduce that if worn for a limited time in places where there are lots of people.

    This has been my “common sense” approach for 2.5 years and I’ve never been infected, at least not enough to get acute symptoms. 

    • #18
  19. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):
    We don’t need studies to tell us that what our common sense says is right or wrong.

    Yes we do.

    Ok well give an example of where a study contradicted common sense. I’m sure there have been…like where it was proved that heavy objects fall at the same speed as lighter ones…but I can’t think of any when in comes to the virus. Or maybe I’m just thinking of my personal common sense. 

    • #19
  20. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    W Bob (View Comment):

     

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):

     

     

    I would not sneeze into a cloth handkerchief and then keep it on my face, snot droplets and all, for the rest of the day and don’t ask others to do that. I ask that they stay home if they are sick.

    Unless the mask is properly fitted, the air with all its particles will leak in and out of the sides. A false sense of protection can be as dangerous as no protection.

    We have an artificial virus, new to mankind thanks to Fauci, so our bodies need exposure to develop immunities. Our useless defense procedures have prolonged this process giving the virus time to mutate. They have not prevented us from getting it.

    Any time “common sense” is used, insert “nonsense” if we are talking about global worming and guns and “opinion” if we are talking about other things. Normalizing masks has given criminals a leg up. In many places they are illegal per laws that are now being ignored. Because each of us has our own health issues, I generally avoid telling people what to do. When I see people with masks, I don’t assume they are healthy people protecting themselves but unwell people in public.

    Yes, masks leak, and the virus can stick to them which means you don’t want to wear it on your face for hours. But would you feel better if the virus went up your nose instead? And viral dosage might play a role with how sick you get. Masks can reduce that if worn for a limited time in places where there are lots of people.

    This has been my “common sense” approach for 2.5 years and I’ve never been infected, at least not enough to get acute symptoms.

    You do what works for you but there is no “common sense” law that says a mask is only required for 15 minutes at a time. Nor is there any reason to believe it is filtering aerosol viruses. Test it for yourself. Put it on, spray air freshener and see if you smell it. I never once entered a public restroom with one and was spared the odor.

    • #20
  21. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    W Bob (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):
    We don’t need studies to tell us that what our common sense says is right or wrong.

    Yes we do.

    Ok well give an example of where a study contradicted common sense. I’m sure there have been…like where it was proved that heavy objects fall at the same speed as lighter ones…but I can’t think of any when in comes to the virus. Or maybe I’m just thinking of my personal common sense.

    I have seen several mostly done before covid re flu and other viruses.

    • #21
  22. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    if we are talking about global worming……

    Holy crap!  Things are worse than I thought!

    • #22
  23. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    if we are talking about global worming……

    Holy crap! Things are worse than I thought!

    Oh darn. Apple can’t tell the difference between my cursive O and A. I won’t correct that one.it is better than what I wrote.

    • #23
  24. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):

     

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):

     

     

    I would not sneeze into a cloth handkerchief and then keep it on my face, snot droplets and all, for the rest of the day and don’t ask others to do that. I ask that they stay home if they are sick.

    Unless the mask is properly fitted, the air with all its particles will leak in and out of the sides. A false sense of protection can be as dangerous as no protection.

    We have an artificial virus, new to mankind thanks to Fauci, so our bodies need exposure to develop immunities. Our useless defense procedures have prolonged this process giving the virus time to mutate. They have not prevented us from getting it.

    Any time “common sense” is used, insert “nonsense” if we are talking about global worming and guns and “opinion” if we are talking about other things. Normalizing masks has given criminals a leg up. In many places they are illegal per laws that are now being ignored. Because each of us has our own health issues, I generally avoid telling people what to do. When I see people with masks, I don’t assume they are healthy people protecting themselves but unwell people in public.

    Yes, masks leak, and the virus can stick to them which means you don’t want to wear it on your face for hours. But would you feel better if the virus went up your nose instead? And viral dosage might play a role with how sick you get. Masks can reduce that if worn for a limited time in places where there are lots of people.

    This has been my “common sense” approach for 2.5 years and I’ve never been infected, at least not enough to get acute symptoms.

    You do what works for you but there is no “common sense” law that says a mask is only required for 15 minutes at a time. Nor is there any reason to believe it is filtering aerosol viruses. Test it for yourself. Put it on, spray air freshener and see if you smell it. I never once entered a public restroom with one and was spared the odor.

    Gases are a different matter. N95s I’m pretty sure are not effective on gases. They are “smaller” than viruses, aerosolized or otherwise.

    • #24
  25. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    W Bob (View Comment):
    Ok well give an example of where a study contradicted common sense.

    In medicine such studies are too numerous to count.  And too many to cite.  

    But for example we treat BP to avoid strokes.  But the BP meds that are best for BP are not generally the ones that are best at avoiding strokes.  Why not?  We don’t know.

    Lipitor lowers cholesterol in men, and prevents heart attacks.  In women, it lowers cholesterol, but does not appear to change heart attack rates.  Why not?  We don’t know.

    I could go on and on and on and on.  And on and on and on and on.

    But we’ve learned in medicine to try to figure out how things are likely to work.  But then to CHECK OUR PRESUMPTIONS WITH STUDIES.  We’re very often wrong.  Things don’t always work out like we think they ought to.

    “Makes sense” is not a good reason to prescribe a drug.

    And “masks are probably mostly harmless, and might help some…” – that is not a good reason to recommend that millions of people wear masks.

    • #25
  26. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    W Bob (View Comment):
    Ok well give an example of where a study contradicted common sense.

    In medicine such studies are too numerous to count. And too many to cite.

    But for example we treat BP to avoid strokes. But the BP meds that are best for BP are not generally the ones that are best at avoiding strokes. Why not? We don’t know.

    Lipitor lowers cholesterol in men, and prevents heart attacks. In women, it lowers cholesterol, but does not appear to change heart attack rates. Why not? We don’t know.

    I could go on and on and on and on. And on and on and on and on.

    But we’ve learned in medicine to try to figure out how things are likely to work. But then to CHECK OUR PRESUMPTIONS WITH STUDIES. We’re very often wrong. Things don’t always work out like we think they ought to.

    “Makes sense” is not a good reason to prescribe a drug.

    And “masks are probably mostly harmless, and might help some…” – that is not a good reason to recommend that millions of people wear masks.

    I hear that gold injections are sometimes helpful in treating arthritis.  That would be about as “uncommonsense” a remedy as I could think of, sounding like it came from Medieval witch doctors.

    • #26
  27. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: it is still perfectly reasonable to think that masks are not useful against Covid–that they are doing more harm than good. As far as I can tell, the available evidence still points to that conclusion.

    Back in early 2020, when most people were fighting over toilet paper at Cosco, I used google to search the CDC website for articles published before 2020 regarding masks and respiratory diseases. The best article was a meta-study from 2017 that summed up the CDC’s knowledge about masking. The conclusion was that masks have some positive effect for medical professionals in controlled situations, but no positive effect for the general public. The CDC was probably trustworthy back before masking became a tool for population control..

    In May of 2020. They published a meta study of Public Mask, cleaning extra, and washing hands extra when it comes to influenza. Dennis Pragure talked about the study.  It found no effect. 

     

     

    Listening to an interview from a Researcher with a major Medical Research Org,  on Unheard who followed the Masking studies in June of 2020. He stated at the time there was only one blind study done in SE Asia. It seemed to hint that wearing a mask actually resulted in possibly more health issues. However, it only hinted don’t take it to the bank. Mask-wearing OUTSIDE of medical facilities just does not work he stated.

    The best mask study was a Scandinavian study where some schools had masks and others did not. All other COVID protocols were the same.  So since only one variable was changed,  its by far the best study we will get during the COVID pandemic. It found no diffrence.

    • #27
  28. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    W Bob (View Comment):

    This has been my “common sense” approach for 2.5 years and I’ve never been infected, at least not enough to get acute symptoms.

    And my common sense approach for 2.5 years was to never wear one of the damned things unless forced to, and then only a bandana, out of contempt. Contempt for those who were satisfied with and calmed down by a freakin bandana.

    And I also have never been infected, to my knowledge.

    “I would not sneeze into a cloth handkerchief and then keep it on my face, snot droplets and all, for the rest of the day and don’t ask others to do that. I ask that they stay home if they are sick.

    Unless the mask is properly fitted, the air with all its particles will leak in and out of the sides. A false sense of protection can be as dangerous as no protection.”

    Yes, properly fitted, and unused. How many people wore a brand new white/blue mask every time they put one on? Nobody! Most had the same one in their car, and rummaged around for it in the side door pocket, or where it was hanging off the mirror, and strapped it on every time we had to go inside anywhere. And it was fine. Nobody checked, nobody cared; you had something on your face so they were mollified.

    It was all a giant crock.

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  29. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    W Bob (View Comment):

    It’s hard to believe that when you’re walking through, say, a grocery store, and there might be a few areas where there are clouds of virus floating, that you’d be better off without a mask then with one. When you walk through the cloud, which you’re in for only a few seconds, the virus sticks on your mask and doesn’t go up your nose. At least most of it does which means you’re better off than if you hadn’t worn one. And since you’re only wearing it for a few minutes, what’s the harm?

    That’s really the only time I still use one, places where there are large amounts of people indoors and where I’m not going to be spending a whole lot of time. If I’ve decided to spend a lot more time inside, such as going out to dinner, then I’m just going to take my chances without a mask. Because in that situation, even if I wore it the whole time, chances are it wouldn’t help due to the time spent inside.

    We don’t need studies to tell us that what our common sense says is right or wrong.

    The problem is masks are permeable to water vapor, droplets and viruses.  And masks act as virus concentrators.

    • #29
  30. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    W Bob (View Comment):

    It’s hard to believe that when you’re walking through, say, a grocery store, and there might be a few areas where there are clouds of virus floating, that you’d be better off without a mask then with one. When you walk through the cloud, which you’re in for only a few seconds, the virus sticks on your mask and doesn’t go up your nose. At least most of it does which means you’re better off than if you hadn’t worn one. And since you’re only wearing it for a few minutes, what’s the harm?

    That’s really the only time I still use one, places where there are large amounts of people indoors and where I’m not going to be spending a whole lot of time. If I’ve decided to spend a lot more time inside, such as going out to dinner, then I’m just going to take my chances without a mask. Because in that situation, even if I wore it the whole time, chances are it wouldn’t help due to the time spent inside.

    We don’t need studies to tell us that what our common sense says is right or wrong.

    One of the lessons from Hope-Simpson’s 1992 book on respiratory pandemics is that we will always get it wrong if we assume that these things only spread by sick-to-healthy transmission.  The phenomenon of seasonality (simultaneous outbreaks across large regions) rather than sporadic, asynchronous pockets means that (a) the damn things spread widely long before the outbreak; (b) can remain dormant/latent, and (c) some shared favorable external conditions cause symptomatic infections to emerge in a narrow time frame. The Red Cross found that COVID-19 was in blood samples in 35 American cities months before the first outbreak.  Most white-tailed deer in the US are likely COVID- positive.  The band from Florida to California had no outbreak until four months after NY/NJ/MA and the plains states not until November but we know with absolute certainty the bug was already present all over.  How it spread and why symptomatic infections emerge as they do is not settled science by any stretch.

    Germany did not permit bandanas and silly cloth masks.  Most German states mandated N95s and compliance was well over 90% at all times (they’re Germans, right?) and yet the incidence of infection and COVID fatality was no different from that of Sweden (mask use ~10%).  “Common sense” needs to take a crack at that one because there should have been a noticeable difference if masks worked as you assume.

    The image of clouds of viruses hovering over the checkout line in the Safeway of CVS is probably not how the bug spreads.  If it did, my local grocery store and its daily shoppers (the only permissible destination during the initial maskless lockdown) would have been contagion central in march and April two years ago.  It was not.  The same employees and same shoppers were there every day during the state’s first peak periods rather than the expected decimation from the hovering cloud.

    Your “common sense” needs to be modified by the fact that nobody has a clear and complete handle on how respiratory viruses get around.  Unless you do a full decontamination when you bring your facial pathogen-collector home, you live alone, don’t let pets go outside, and you also somehow guard against all (unknown) vectors, your mask is not the solution you think it is.  

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