And what "the science" actually says.
During a recent conversation with a woman, a liberal Democrat with a characteristic animus toward President Trump, our discussion turned to “the Pandemic,” i.e. the Great UnReason of 2020.
Specifically, we spoke about the rise of Mask Empire.
I tried explaining that world renowned scientists—as opposed to career bureaucrats like Anthony Fauci—have demonstrated repeatedly that masks, particularly the kinds of cloth and surgical masks that have become a daily feature of the general public, are ineffective in preventing people from getting infected with COVID-19. Masks can even be dangerous, both vis-à-vis COVID, as well as with respect to the exacerbation of other health issues.
In fact, even some of these bureaucrats have, at one time, conceded the truth of the science behind COVID and masks.
My friend, without missing a beat, dismissed these studies as “outliers,” “biased,” and “right-wing.”
Let the evidence speak for itself. If anyone, with a straight face, can accuse the following researchers, studies, and organizations of the charges that my friend leveled, let them try:
Back in April, during the peak of The Virus, the New England Journal of Medicine—one of the most prestigious of medical journals and one within the pages of which Anthony Fauci and CDC head Robert Redfield themselves published this past spring—said this:
“We know that wearing a mask outside of health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from implementing more fundamental infection-control measures….”
“The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic…fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask, particularly in light of the worldwide mask shortage, but it is difficult to get clinicians to hear this message in the heat of the current crisis.”
“[The] widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider…the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection.”
“Medical masks like this one [a surgical mask] cannot protect against the new coronavirus when used alone. WHO only recommends the use of masks in specific cases. If you have [a] cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, you should wear a mask and seek medical care. If you do not have these symptoms, you do not have to wear masks, because there is no evidence that they protect people who are not sick.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the following in Emerging Infectious Diseases, its distinguished peer-reviewed journal. Using a whopping 14 randomized controlled trials (which scientists recognize as the “highest quality of evidence”), Jingyi Xiao and her esteemed colleagues at the University of Hong Kong determined that the utilization of face masks do not significantly reduce the spread of COVID.
“We found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks. There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure.”
To conclude: “Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory confirmed influenza.” (Even more frightening for the already terrified, Dr. Xiao and her team discovered that neither are “improved hygiene and environmental cleaning” effective at preventing transmission!)
Anthony Fauci himself remarked in March, on the eve of the peak of The Virus:
“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better, and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection people think that it is.”
The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, located at the University of Minnesota, declared that there was no data available to support recommendations for mask use by the general public:
“We do not recommend requiring the general public who do not have COVID-19-like illness to routinely wear cloth or surgical masks because:
There is no scientific evidence they are effective in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) agrees:
“Face masks should not be worn by healthy individuals to protect themselves from acquiring respiratory infection because there is no evidence to suggest that face masks worn by healthy individuals are effective in preventing people from becoming ill.”
Face masks can pose health risks.
A study in 2012, conducted in Saudi Arabia, found that face veils of the kind typically worn by women in this Islamic land can significantly lower ventilatory function (VF). And how could it not? After all: “Free and unobstructed airflow in the upper and lower respiratory tract…is prerequisite for normal respiratory function.”
Interestingly, though, they noted that for all of the potentially negative long-term effects of wearing the niqab, because it is not worn as tightly as are surgical masks worn by medical staff, it is possibly not as unhealthy as the latter!
“Decrease in blood oxygenation level among surgeons has also been reported following the use of surgical masks during surgery lasting 1 to 4 hours, and long duration use of facemasks by medical emergency staff has been related to extreme stress.”
Also, given “increased physical activity…the temperature in the facemask microclimate increases, causing [an] increase in thermal sensations of the whole body, which decreases work endurance.”
“The temperature of air entering facemask during inspiration corresponds to thermal stimulus to the skin under mask and affects heat exchange from the respiratory tract, reducing breathing, comfort sensation.”
As for COVID-19 precisely, the use of masks by the public, as Fauci himself insisted back in March, increases the risk of infection. Dr. Jennifer Margaret Harries, a public health physician and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, agrees.
“For the average member of the public walking down a street, it is not a good idea…In fact, you can actually trap the virus in the mask and start breathing it in.”
“Cloth masks will be ineffective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whether worn as source control or as personal protective equipment (PPE).”
“Surgical masks are better than cloth but not very efficient at preventing emissions from infected patients.”
Ah, but what about the much vaunted N95 respirator?
“N95 masks protect health care workers, but are not recommended for source control transmission.”
What this last point means is that health care workers are largely protected against contracting an infection from patients, but patients are not much protected from contracting an infection from an N95-wearer. This is undoubtedly because the N95 has an exhalation valve that is designed to make breathing more manageable for the person wearing it.
At any rate, even the N95, which is in small supply relative to cloth and surgical masks, is 95% effective at preventing contamination by particles that are three microns or larger. COVID-19 is .125 of a micron.
The AAPS’s verdict is unequivocal:
“Wearing masks will not reduce SARS-CoV-2.”
We could continue.
The bottom line is this:
The science, as the left likes to say, is settled. Masks, particularly of the kind that are in vogue among the public, are theater. For the elites that mandate their use, they are a means to augment their power and exert control over the masses.