It seems that various places are once again promoting the mask talisman as a protection against viruses.
Wearing a mask does not protect other people from a virus. Wearing ones does not protect you from a virus. I’m not making a political statement, I’m making a statement based on research into the matter.
It should be clearly stated that cloth masks are in fact hazards and potentially increase risk of influenza like illnesses. Even the World Health Organization (of whom I’m no fan) admits as much, “The use of cloth masks (referred to as fabric masks in this document) as an alternative to medical masks is not considered appropriate for protection of health workers based on limited available evidence. One study that evaluated the use of cloth masks in a health care facility found that health care workers using cotton cloth masks were at increased risk of influenza like illness” (Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19).
So many people are wearing cloth masks. These masks are quite possibly increasing the risk and spread of a virus. Wearing such a mask is actually doing harm to your neighbor. Have people been informed of the fact that cloth masks are actually a hazard?
The same document notes that the “medical” masks to be considered safe must be worn following these protocols –
“When using medical masks throughout the entire shift, health workers should make sure that:
the medical mask is changed when wet, soiled, or damaged;
the medical mask is not touched to adjust it or displaced from the face for any reason; if this happens, the mask should be safely removed and replaced; and hand hygiene performed;
the medical mask (as well as other personal protective equipment) is discarded and changed after caring for any patient on contact/droplet precautions for other pathogens” (Ibid).
Are people following these protocols? Are public places? Are churches? Etc.? Just stop and observe how many times people are touching their masks and so forth. If in a medical environment these actions compromises the integrity of a mask, how much more in a non-medical environment.
The same document states, “Taken into account when adopting this approach of targeted continuous medical mask use, including:
• self-contamination due to the manipulation of the mask by contaminated hands;(48, 49)
• potential self-contamination that can occur if medical masks are not changed when wet, soiled or damaged;
• possible development of facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne, when used frequently for long hours(43, 44, 50)”
Mostly everyone wearing a mask is doing so in a manner that makes it “contaminated.” The mask is then a threat to one’s own health and that of others. Note the wording, “self-contamination can occur …” A person would think that this important information would be made very clear to the public. It has not. They are just told – wear a mask, as if it holds some magical power.
The document also states, “At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.” There is no direct evidence. Yet there is direct evidence showing that mask do not stop the transmission of viruses.
Combine this information with the following from someone working in Occupational and Environmental toxicology as a senior industrial hygienist, here is a link to the article/video. The speaker confirms what the WHO document states, medical masks must be used in a proper manner, otherwise they become contaminated themselves. Cloth masks are simply hazards. The speaker states that both medical and cloth masks are impotent to stop a virus. Even in a medical environment, it is not within the function of a medical mask to stop nano-sized viruses.
Most of the “information” promoted by the presstitute and government agencies to justify the use of masks at current is based on “Observational studies.” As far as I can tell, none of the current “recommendations” are based on RCTs – randomized control trials. One author states, “The CDC instead focuses strictly on observational studies completed after Covid-19 began. In general, observational studies are not only of lower quality than RCTs but also are more likely to be politicized, as they can inject the researcher’s judgment more prominently into the inquiry and lend themselves, far more than RCTs, to finding what one wants to find.”
From a very basic standpoint, it seems clear that RCTs are much superior in their results than observational studies. Here is the full article, entitled “Do Masks Work?” It is worth reading. I will not unpack it anymore here.
I understand masks have become an emotional subject. This is too bad. My question has always been – Do masks actually function as popularly claimed (in the MSM and Gov agencies)? As far as I can tell, no. The reasons given are faulty at best. Masks do little to nothing to stop viruses, and in fact the wearing of cloth masks becomes hazardous. Long term wearing and reuse of even “medical” masks seems to be hazardous also. Most masks, since they are almost always used improperly, become bacterial incubators. It seems very plausible that most people wearing masks are doing so improperly and thereby are creating probable bacterial hazard risks for themselves and others.
Here is an interesting article titled “A group of parents sent their kid’s face-masks to a lab for analysis, here’s what they found.” The list includes – Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis), Neisseria meningitidis (meningitis, sepsis), to name but a few.
I’m also concerned that some are trying to virtue-ize wearing a mask. It has nothing to do with humility. It has nothing to do with love for neighbor. Although some have been motivated by genuine concern, I think the issue needs to be addressed outside of these potentially emotional appeals. Utilizing only basic appeal to emotional response is a type of fallacy. It is wrong to manipulate Christian feelings to promote mask wearing. I believe the use of “humility, love, and obedience” in this context have been abused (a possible article in and of itself). Yet, a manipulation of sorts takes place, intended or not. Mask according to a realistic consideration have nothing to do with the Christian virtues of humility, love, and obedience. I suppose if someone is dead-set on wearing one, then knock yourself out. But it’s not a virtue.
It is, rather, very possible that long-term mask wearing is a potential harm to one’s self and neighbor. Masks (improperly and pervasively worn as they are) have been indicated to be a very real potential bio hazard.
There is also the psychological aspect to consider, most of all on children and young adults. Such aspects will take time to become even clearer. Given the abundant source of information stating mask are ineffective at stopping viruses, I at times wonder if the forced masking of children does not actually have a psychological intent by the powers that be. If this is so, then the whole topic becomes more sinister in intent. But the reality seems to be, there is and will be a psychological effect. This has been set in motion. One may see a fair amount of folks clinging to the mask like Dumbo to his lucky feather.
Of course there is the whole potentially spiritual aspect involved. I touched briefly on this a while ago. My point here, at current, is not to expound more on such things. Although, the topic of universal masking in Christian worship should be considered very deeply. Most of all in light of the information that masking has little to no physiological benefits. I’ve pondered before, and will again briefly – what does it say, spiritually, when we approach Jesus Christ the God of all in a mask? For certain, it is saying something.
A bit ago, in the comment section, one reader provided an excellent compilation of RTCs and such that touch on the effectiveness of masks (face coverings), most all to prevent viral and microbial transmission.
I believe it to be a fabulous resource, so I pulled it out of the comments to include it in this post. I hope this will make it more accessible to most readers. I will write no more. The following is the excellent resource provided by a reader posting as “fitzhamilton” –
I did my own deep dive into the literature on the mask question a while back, and this is what I found:
The consensus is that surgical and cloth masks are useless in preventing viral and microbial transmission, and if worn for long periods without proper hygiene can be vectors of transmission. N95 or better masks used by properly trained people (properly sealed, frequently changed) in clinical settings are moderately useful.
Cloth masks: Dangerous to your health? April 22, 2015, University of New South Wales https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422121724.htm
Summary: Respiratory infection is much higher among healthcare workers wearing cloth masks compared to medical masks, research shows. Cloth masks should not be used by workers in any healthcare setting, authors of the new study say.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal Volume 26, Number 5—May 2020 Policy Review
CDC Review since 1946 of masks and influenza (May 2020) Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures.”
Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza. We similarly found limited evidence on the effectiveness of improved hygiene and environmental cleaning. We identified several major knowledge gaps requiring further research, most fundamentally an improved characterization of the modes of person-to-person transmission.
There is limited evidence for face masks’ effectiveness in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure.
Public Health England: Face coverings in the community and COVID-19: a rapid review 26 June 2020
• 28 studies were identified, but none of them provided high level evidence and 15
were non-peer-reviewed preprints (search up to 5 June 2020). The evidence was
mainly theoretical (based on modelling or laboratory studies) and epidemiological
(highly subject to confounders).
• There is weak evidence from epidemiological and modelling studies that mask
wearing in the community may contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and
that early intervention may result in a lower peak infection rate.
• Evidence from modelling studies suggests that beneficial effects of wearing masks
may be increased when combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions,
such as hand washing and social distancing.
• Limited and weak evidence from laboratory studies suggests that materials such as
cotton and polyester might block droplets with a filtering efficiency similar to medical masks when folded in 2 or 3 layers.
Face masks can play a role in controlling infection in clinical settings when used as part of a comprehensive package of infection control measures. However, the evidence is less clear regarding the use of face masks (or coverings) outside of clinical settings.
Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons (1981) vol. 63 Is a mask necessary in the operating theatre? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2493952/pdf/annrcse01509-0009.pdf
“Summary: No masks were worn in one operating theatre for six months. There was no increase in the incidence of wound infection.”
Annals of Internal medicine Original Research March 2021 Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers: A Randomized Controlled Trial https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-6817
“The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection.
In the first, which included only participants reporting wearing face masks “exactly as instructed,” infection (the primary outcome) occurred in 22 participants (2.0%) in the face mask group and 53 (2.1%) in the control group (between-group difference, −0.2 percentage point [CI, −1.3 to 0.9 percentage point]; P = 0.82) (OR, 0.93 [CI, 0.56 to 1.54]; P = 0.78).”
There was no major statistically significant improvement whatsoever between those who reported wearing face masks exactly as instructed and the control group. The confidence interval was extraordinarily wide and statistically centered on 1.0, or no effect, with a possible range of from ~44% improvement to ~54% increase in risk.
Annals of Internal Medicine, 6 October 2020: Masks for Prevention of Respiratory Virus Infections, Including SARS-CoV-2, in Health Care and Community Settings
A Living Rapid Review https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/full/10.7326/M20-3213
Evidence on mask effectiveness for respiratory infection prevention is stronger in health care than community settings. N95 respirators might reduce SARS-CoV-1 risk versus surgical masks in health care settings, but applicability to SARS-CoV-2 is uncertain.”
Jacobs, J. L. et al. (2009) “Use of surgical face masks to reduce the incidence of the common cold among health care workers in Japan: A randomized controlled trial”, American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 37, Issue 5, 417 – 419.
“N95-masked health-care workers (HCW) were significantly more likely to experience headaches. Face mask use in HCW was not demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds.”
Cowling, B. et al. (2010) “Face masks to prevent transmission of influenza virus: A systematic review”, Epidemiology and Infection, 138(4), 449-456. doi:10.1017/S0950268809991658
“None of the studies reviewed showed a benefit from wearing a mask, in either HCW or community members in households (H). See summary Tables 1 and 2 therein.”
bin-Reza et al. (2012) “The use of masks and respirators to prevent transmission of influenza: a systematic review of the scientific evidence”, Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 6(4), 257-267.
“There were 17 eligible studies. […] None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask ⁄ respirator use and protection against inﬂuenza infection.”
Smith, J.D. et al. (2016) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks in protecting health care workers from acute respiratory infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis”, CMAJ Mar 2016, cmaj.150835; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.150835
“We identified 6 clinical studies … In the meta-analysis of the clinical studies, we found no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks in associated risk of (a) laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, (b) influenza-like illness, or (c) reported work-place absenteeism.”
Offeddu, V. et al. (2017) “Effectiveness of Masks and Respirators Against Respiratory Infections in Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 65, Issue 11, 1 December 2017, Pages 1934-1942, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/cix681
“Self-reported assessment of clinical outcomes was prone to bias. Evidence of a protective effect of masks or respirators against verified respiratory infection (VRI) was not statistically significant”; as per Fig. 2c therein: masks studies viruses”
Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 65, Issue 11, 1 December 2017, Pages 1934–1942, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/cix681
Radonovich, L.J. et al. (2019) “N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial”, JAMA. 2019; 322(9): 824-833. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.11645
“Among 2862 randomized participants, 2371 completed the study and accounted for 5180 HCW-seasons. … Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”
Long, Y. et al. (2020) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza: A systematic review and meta-analysis”, J Evid Based Med. 2020; 1- 9. https://doi.org/10.1111/jebm.12381
“A total of six RCTs involving 9 171 participants were included. There were no statistically significant differences in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza, laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection and influenza-like illness using N95 respirators and surgical masks. Meta-analysis indicated a protective effect of N95 respirators against laboratory-confirmed bacterial colonization (RR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.43-0.78). The use of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks is not associated with a lower risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”
Study of correct use of masks (2020, Singapore) https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/publichealth/86601
“Overall, data were collected from 714 men and women. Of all ages, only 90 participants (12.6%) passed the visual mask fit test. About 75% performed strap placement incorrectly, 61% left a “visible gap between the mask and skin,” and about 60% didn’t tighten the nose-clip.”
Study of surgical face mask use in health care workers (2009, Japan) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19216002/
“Masks did not provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting cold.”
Randomized clinical trial of standard medical/surgical masks in health care workers (2010, Australia).
Study was spurred by the H1N1 flu. While N95 masks offered protection against respiratory illness, medical mask wearers and control group numbers were similar.
2862 randomized participants, 2371 completed the study and accounted for 5180 HCW-seasons.
Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators (8.2%) vs medical masks (7.2%) resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza. 90% said they wore the mask all the time.
Review of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza (March 2020, China).
6 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 9,171 participants were included (2015-2020). There were no statistically significant differences in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza, laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection and influenza-like illness using N95 respirators and surgical masks.
Meta-analysis indicated a protective effect of N95 respirators against laboratory-confirmed bacterial colonization.
“Proper use of face masks is essential because improper use might increase the risk for transmission.” A study of 4 patients (July 2020, South Korea).
Known patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 wore masks and coughed into a Petrie dish. “Both surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing the dissemination of SARS–CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface.”
Studied different types of face coverings in non-clinical setting (August 2020). https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/08/07/sciadv.abd3083
They used a black box, a laser, and a camera. A person wears a face mask and speaks into the direction of an expanded laser beam inside a dark enclosure. Droplets that propagate through the laser beam scatter light, which is recorded with a camera. A simple computer algorithm then counts the droplets seen in the video.
The N95 led to a droplet transmission of below 0.1%.
Cotton and polypropylene masks, some of which were made from apron material showed a droplet transmission ranging from 10% to 40%.
Knitted mask had up to 60% droplet transmission.
Neck fleece had 110% droplet transmission (10% higher than not wearing a mask).
Speaking through some masks (particularly the neck fleece, bandanas) seemed to disperse the largest droplets into a multitude of smaller droplets … which explains the apparent increase in droplet count relative to no mask in that case.
Austrian observation (August 2020)
The introduction, retraction and re-introduction of mandatory face masks in Austria had no influence at all on the infection rate.
A voice from the vastly more dangerous Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918:
Santa Barbara Daily News and the Independent, Nov 16, 1918: “The average person doesn’t know how to take care of a mask… and it not cleansed the thing soon becomes a veritable bacteria incubator.” “The mask must be very carefully handled, or it will become a menace rather than a help.” – Dr. Horace F. Pierce.
From the LA Times, February 5, 2020: Dr. Jeffery Klausner, infectious disease expert at UCLA’s Feilding School of Public health: “Fear spreads a lot faster than a virus. A mask makes you feel better, but you’re missing the more protective measures. [Use] soap and water instead.”