As we go into a new three week pause to stop the spread of Covid-19 (eight months after the '15 days to slow the spread' pause), Michigan health officials emphasize that wearing a face covering is important to successfully combat the virus. Many of our peers repeat the mantras related to us through a media engaged more with sensationalism than science, pointing to health officials with the same dysphoric trait.
“If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told Journal of the American Medical Association back in the middle of July. Yet, much of the states had mandated mask usage in most every social situation before and after that announcement, so that eight weeks later, and beyond, the virus has reappeared with a vengeance despite the mask requirements.
All of those major health organizations and officials back in March that told us that healthy people wearing masks in public was unhealthy, reversed their stance the very next month with no compelling evidence that their original opinion was incorrect. Meanwhile, our panic-inducing media would take any opportunity to tell us that our enemy virus could be defeated by strapping on that mask until a vaccine was created, and wondering how many lives could have been saved if masks could have been worn early on in the pandemic.
Just like everybody told us back in March, masks still don't work and it has been proven once again.
A Denmark study published this month confirmed many decades of prior peer-reviewed studies on the efficacies of mask usage to control viral infections. Roughly 6000 people were part of the study, half were told not to wear masks in public (control group), the others were told to always wear their masks. The objective was to assess whether recommending surgical mask use outside the home reduces wearers' risk for Covid-19 infection in a setting (Denmark in April to early June) where masks were uncommon and not among recommended public health measures.
The results were that 1.8% of the mask-wearers became infected with Covid-19 compared to 2.1% of the no-mask group. Those familiar with statistics would see these numbers as totally inconclusive, with a confidence interval that covers all the potential outcomes (i.e. 1) no difference, 2) masks protect and 3) masks infect). This study is totally in-line with several other studies over the last two decades studying mask (including the much-touted N95 respirator) effectiveness towards other airborne-transmitted illnesses:
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://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/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.”
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): 824–33. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2749214
“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.”
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://academic.oup.com/cid/article/65/11/1934/4068747
“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”
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 https://www.cmaj.ca/content/188/8/567
“We identified six 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.”
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. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1750-2659.2011.0...
“There were 17 eligible studies. … None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”
Cowling, B. et al. (2010) “Face masks to prevent transmission of influenza virus: A systematic review,” Epidemiology and Infection, 138(4), 449-456. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/...
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.
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. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19216002
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.
We are often told that masks defend against droplets and aerosols, yet if there were any benefit to wearing a mask, because of the blocking power against droplets and aerosol particles, then there should be more benefit from wearing a respirator (N95) compared to a surgical mask. As you can see, several large meta-analyses, and all the randomized controlled trials (RCT), prove that there is no such relative benefit.
No RCT study with verified outcome shows a benefit for health care workers, community members in households, or community members interacting in society to wearing a mask or respirator. There is no such study. There are no exceptions. This is science telling you that masks still do not work.
Thanks for sharing the good doctor's words. I would not trust any doctor that refuses to acknowledge and learn from the mistakes made by the medical community throughout the early part of this epidemic and adapt it to a reasonable permutation of what the Great Barrington declaration concludes.
''For example, Norway’s health agency stated that transmission rates there are so low that two hundred thousand people on average would have to wear masks in order to prevent a single COVID-19 case. One of the few regions in the world without common mask mandates is Oceania, where ten countries have yet to report a single case of the virus.''