Commentary

Masked and unmasked

 

A fully protected health care worker/Wikimedia Commons

News analysis

A Danish study of masking branded as “controversial” long before it saw the light of day finally emerged in print on Wednesday only to add to the confusion over whether ordering people to wear face coverings to prevent COVID-19 is a good thing or a bad thing.

Anti-maskers in the U.S. are sure to latch onto the peer-reviewed study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine as evidence that mandatory masking is just another unnecessary government intrusion into the lives of freedom-loving Americans.

Pro-maskers, meanwhile, will argue the study presents no evidence that masks don’t work to slow the spread of the sometimes deadly disease and note that the authors say they’re not opposed to public masking.

Eight months into the worst pandemic in the Digital Age, what the study mainly reveals is the failure of science to quantify exactly how the newly evolved SARS-CoV-2 virus jumps from person to person.

As the study’s authors observe, “how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted – via respiratory droplets, aerosols, or (to a lesser extent) fomites – is not firmly established. Droplets are larger and rapidly fall to the ground, whereas aerosols are smaller (less than 5 μm) and may evaporate and remain in the air for hours.

“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 may take place through multiple routes. It has been argued that for the primary route of SARS-CoV-2 spread – that is, via droplets – face masks would be considered effective, whereas masks would not be effective against spread via aerosols, which might penetrate or circumnavigate a face mask. Thus, (the) spread of SARS-CoV-2 via aerosols would at least partially explain the present findings.

“Lack of eye protection may also have been of importance, and use of face shields also covering the eyes (rather than face masks only) has been advocated to halt the conjunctival route of transmission. We observed no statistically significant interaction between wearers and non-wearers of eyeglasses. Recent reports indicate that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via fomites is unusual, but masks may alter behavior and potentially affect fomite transmission.”

Fomites are objects – doorknobs, elevator buttons and gas pump handles, for example – to which invisible, microscopic virions carried by an infected person can temporarily attach themselves to await contact with a potential new host.

Dashed hopes

One of a handful of masking studies undertaken since the pandemic began near the start of the year, the randomized controlled trial (RCT) involving almost 5,000 Danes was expected help clarify the effectiveness of public masking – one of several so-called “non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) being used in attempts to slow the spread of a virus that has led to nearly 1.4 million deaths around the world – almost 260,000 of them in the U.S.

Back in July, researchers at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford noted the problematic lack of studies on public masking.

“In 2010, at the end of the last influenza pandemic, there were six published randomized controlled trials with 4,147 participants focusing on the benefits of different types of masks,” wrote researchers Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan. The face mask trials for influenza-like illness (ILI) reported poor compliance, rarely reported harms and revealed the pressing need for future trials.

“Despite the clear requirement to carry out further large, pragmatic trials a decade later, only six had been published….and showed that masks alone have no significant effect in interrupting the spread of ILI or influenza in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.

“It would appear that despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks….The numerous systematic reviews that have been recently published all include the same evidence base so unsurprisingly broadly reach the same conclusions,” they wrote. “However, recent reviews using lower quality evidence found masks to be effective. Whilst also recommending robust randomized trials to inform the evidence for these interventions.”

The Danish study was one of those randomized trials – the gold standard of medical research – intended to inform the debate. It has mainly just added to the grays surrounding the discussion.

The study found no statistical difference in infection between the number of infected people who wore masks and those who didn’t. But the authors warned that “the findings…should not be used to conclude that a recommendation for everyone to wear masks in the community would not be effective in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections because the trial did not test the role of masks in source control of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“During the study period, authorities did not recommend face mask use outside hospital settings and mask use was rare in community settings. This means that study participants’ exposure was overwhelmingly to persons not wearing masks.”

In other words, the study concluded that masks provide no protection for the wearer – although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently declared the opposite – but provided no real data on whether a mask wearer’s face covering helps to protect others.

Masking has become highly politicized, and the possibility that it could help slow the spread of a disease for which there are few other good preventative measures has made most scientists reluctant to say anything negative about masks.

Michael Osterholm, the director of the respected Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, actually found himself attacked by other scientists for offering a nuanced view that argued stopping the spread of SARS-CoV-2 required more than people just slapping on masks. 

Never say never

After studying a variety of NPIs – including masking – in 41 countries between January and the end of May, an international team of researchers from Oxford, Harvard University, the Australian National University, the University of Bristol, the University of Manchester, Tufts Univesity and the Imperial College of London observed that although their “results cast doubt on reports that mask wearing is the main determinant shaping a country’s epidemic, the policy still seems promising given all available evidence, due to its comparatively low economic and social costs. Its effectiveness may have increased as other NPIs have been lifted and public interactions have recommenced.”

The study itself concluded mandatory masking had a minor negative effect, but the score of a negative 1 percent determined by the study was within a range of a minus 13 percent to a positive 8 percent, offering at least the possibility masking could be a plus.

The study was posted at MedRxiv and was not peer-reviewed. It has received almost no publicity although it offered government entities a calculator for determining how various NPIs could be used to slow the spread of the disease. 

The study found the most effective NPIs were closing schools and universities, limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, and closing most non-essential businesses. Those also happen to be the most unpopular and/or economically devasting NPIs.

The wild card in the debate on how well NPIs do or don’t work focuses on how the disease spreads, and that has had scientists taking sides.

“Many scientists now consider that COVID-19 spreads through aerosols, containing particles of diameter 5 μm or less, with extended viral survival in the air as well as long periods of suspension of the microdroplets in the air. (But) respiratory droplets are still considered to be the main route of transmission,” Dr. Liji Thomas wrote at News Medical in September. 

Little has changed since then except for people in cooler climates moving increasingly indoors and the number of COVID-19 infections exploding.

An international team of researchers from Georgia, Louisiana and California reported on the danger of closed environments in a peer-reviewed study published on the JAMA Network in September.

Their study tracked a COVID-19 outbreak in China back to Buddhists on a bus. The study reported 23 of 68 people who traveled in a bus with someone infected with SARS-CoV-2 came down with the disease, but only seven of another 231 people with whom the infected individual had contact at a religious retreat caught the disease.

“…None of the passengers sitting in seats close to the bus window developed infection,” the study added. “In addition, the driver and passengers sitting close to the bus door also did not develop infection….Our findings suggesting airborne transmission of COVID-19 align with past reports of a severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak on a plane and a recent COVID-19 outbreak in a restaurant.”

The protective value of fresh air in the face of an infectious, airborne pandemic disease has been known since the Spanish flu killed an estimated 675,000 Americans and millions around the globe more than 100 years ago. 

Masks were then the subject of much the same debate as they are now.

Mechanics

Rogue epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of Sweden has suggested masks could actually be dangerous.

As outrageous as that claim might sound to some, it is not farfetched. Masks are a tool. Like other tools – knives, chainsaws, motor vehicles – they are useful when used properly but can become dangerous, even deadly, when used improperly.

In a health-care environment, masks are one element in an outfit of personal protective equipment (PPE). There are protocols for how PPE is used in that environment.

Masks in the public arena are not treated like PPE. They are now regularly treated like a fashion accessory to be used when entering public spaces.

In between, they hang off the mirrors of automobiles, get stuffed in pockets, and are handled countless times by their owners. If someone is infected with COVID-19, her or his mask is likely to end up with SARS-CoV-2 all over it.

What happens to these virions when someone then puts on the mask and start pushing air out through it is an unknown. Fancy photography has caught the outpouring of droplets when humans breathe, but individual particles of SARS-CoV-2 are so small they can’t be caught on film.

A team of scientists from Israel, California and Massachusetts this week estimated that “each infected person carries 109-1011 virions during peak infection, with a total mass of about 1 µg-0.1 mg, which curiously implies that all SARS-CoV-2 virions currently in the world have a mass of only 0.1 to 1 kilogram.”

A kilogram, for those unfamiliar with the metric system, equals 2.2 pounds. There are now 16 million people reported to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, meaning that each of them would be carrying at most about 0.0000001375 of a pound of virus or 0.0000022 ounces.

It is not like scientists can put a fancy lens on a camera and track these virions as they fly around a room when COVID-infected individuals breathe.

Not to mention that masks themselves are only part of the equation. The human element also plays a big role.

”…The wearer of a face mask may change to a less cautious behavior because of a false sense of security, as pointed out by WHO,” the Danish researchers warned. “Accordingly, our face mask group seemed less worried, which may explain their increased willingness to wear face masks in the future. These challenges, including costs and availability, may reduce the efficacy of face masks to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

The research here is caught at the crux between science and belief, and a lot of people now believe in masks because there are no good alternatives other than shutting down entire societies which doesn’t work because economies collapse and the whole faces a greater risk than the comparative few dying from latest disease to inflict humankind.

Though the 252,262 Americans killed by COVID-19 since March is a sad and frightening number, it is significantly smaller than the 424,000 Americans who would normally be expected to die of heart disease over an eight-month span or the 399,000 who would normally die of cancer in eight-months.

Still, no one wants to die, and there has been no demonstration that masks make things worse, as the Danish scientists noted.

“While we await additional data to inform mask recommendations, communities must balance the seriousness of COVID-19, uncertainty about the degree of source control and protective effect, and the absence of data suggesting serious adverse effects of masks,” they wrote.

But then no one has really gone looking for serious adverse effects although a study of Saudi Arabian women in the late 1990s found that the 58 percent who wore veils were “significantly more” likely to suffer from asthma or respiratory infections.

Reporting in the Journal of Asthma, the researchers termed the finding unexpected and said “more  and bigger studies are recommended.” But, as with the studies of flu and masking a decade later, no further research was conducted.

64 replies »

  1. Mr craigmedred said: “I wear one in public to make other people feel better.”

    I wear one in public for two reasons. 1) My opinion is not more important than another’s, and 2) I don’t want rocks thrown at me today, because I’m busy.

    But just a minute. I can’t breathe (I’m inhaling moisture until I feel like I’m under water, and CO2. And taking my own oral and facial germs deep into my lungs). I can’t see (through my lenses). The mask slips and slides so that my hands are constantly at my face —to some here it is funny, to me it’s not. Once, the mask made me sick. I know, suck it up, right? We have to be tough. Well, I’m tough enough, but I ain’t happy! I am very worried about the harm that masks may be doing to populations.

  2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website disclosed the shockingly small number of people who died from only the Wuhan coronavirus, with no other cause of death mentioned. Hold on to your hat because here it is: out of the 161,392 deaths in the CDC data, just six percent, about 9,700 deaths, were attributed to the coronavirus alone. According to the CDC, the other 94 percent had an average of 2.6 additional conditions or causes of deaths, such as heart disease, diabetes, and sepsis.

    • Tell em Marlin…Scamdemic no question.. All about the Globalist “Great Reset”. Sacks of chit.
      Watched a Democrat last week get their mail. Walked out of their house with a mask on to the mailbox.. I fell over laughing. WHAT A JOKE!!! DO these people realize how stupid they look and act?

    • Marlin,

      That is old news, shockingly old news.

      First off the death count is now north of 250,000. Second since the beginning of this pandemic it has been well documented that those with health issues succumb to this disease more readily than those who don’t.

      As I said to Bryan yesterday, it seems fairly easy to figure out, if the person would be alive today if it were not for covid, then their death was caused by covid. Or as the CDC said in the link Bryan provided “COVID-19 should not be reported on the death certificate if it did not cause or contribute to the death.”

      This pandemic is actually happening, hospitals are filling up, people are getting sick and yes people are dying from, with, and because of covid.

      • Steve-O, the same can be said about the flu can it not? I don’t know whether hospitals are filling up or not. The “news” said the same thing last time and hospital were NOT filling up. Again, we are talking trillions of dollars here with everybody with their hand innthe cookie jar (hospitals, local and state governments, corporations, etc..). A plethora of corruption and lies..
        But, I just can’t help looking at these numbers.and shaking my head over this nonsense:

        The US govt updated the survival rates (i.e., IF infected) for Covid19:

        0-19 – 99.997%

        20-49 – 99.98%

        50-69 – 99.5%

        70+ – 94.6%

        https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html

      • Steve o , i had the same thought you did but relized its not quite that simple. First its often very hard to tell specific cause of death. How do you discern if someone dying from a heart attack with covid is dying from covid or an inevitable heart attack. Its nearly impossible. Thus marlins cdc example of cdc clarification of 16k clearly dying of covid. To ignore what that implies is just plain chosen to accept inaccurate. Now the flip side is of course theres a lot of people at risk with pre exist conditions that’s unavoidable while catching covid so its not quite accurate to say just 16k died of covid even if it just pushed em over the cliff . So frankly it’s unclear how many died of covid. It’s probably somewhere between 16 k and 260k at time of that cdc update . To proclaim 260 covid deaths is definitely misleading due to complicating factors that patients may have been in process of succumbing to at thst moment and to say only 16k from covid is probably also inaccurate. But cdc does leave door open to the argument that it could someday be determined only 16 k died of covid . ( i doubt anyone rational will determine that though) now with that in mind a person should use perspective. How bad is this disease ? Can we actually stop it with common civil rights reduction? How many people die from factually controlable deaths such as obesity related diseases , car deaths , ect ect ? How do we handle those ? It would seam nearly more rational to require exercise and healthy diets than un prooven masks , shut downs or silly curfews for us children. Im not down playing the disease but a person must keep perspective when making large choices. Btw im against forced eating of greens and exercise with reduced calories but it would really extend people’s lives and reduce deaths from disease of many kinds and bring covid deaths to near zero . God forbid our society ever embraced such draconian controls . My point being oddly marlin and Brian have a good point just not clarified. ( of course so do you )

      • Oy vey

        all you have to do is compare overall deaths March 1st 2020 to November 1st 2020
        to the same period in every year since 1995 to see
        >200,000 people have died of covid in the USA so far. You don’t have to have the brains of Soros or Bloomberg or Kissinger to be able
        to do the math or google the results. try Googling
        usa life expectancy down because of covid-18

        oh never mind its a hoax
        a scam
        a globalist elders of Zion master plan

        though given we run and own all the banks as is-
        why would my uncle Saul bother? When he is in charge of next weeks challah.

      • DPR,

        It actually is that simple. If you have diabetes and psoriasis and high blood pressure and AIDS and a torn rotator cuff and cancer and glaucoma and you die in a plane crash, what do you think they are going to put on your death certificate that you died of a torn rotator cuff?

        Once again as the link Bryan provided says, according to the CDC “COVID-19 should not be reported on the death certificate if it did not cause or contribute to the death.” Is that really that hard to understand? It seems extremely straightforward to me, does it seem obscure to you? If a person would be alive if it weren’t for covid then their death is covid related…”if it did not cause or contribute to the death.” It’s a simple question, if they hadn’t contracted covid would they be alive with all their pre-existing conditions including torn rotator cuffs…if the answer is yes then it’s a covid related death.

        Bryan,

        The way they estimate flu deaths is similar to how they calculate covid deaths, but we are more familiar with the seasonal flu than we are this brand new disease so they guestimate flu deaths. In a few years we will probably add covid to the seasonal flu totals, just like we have with the swine flu which was the Spanish flu or the flu of 1918 before it was the swine flu, H1N1. Covid will probably just make the seasonal flu a little more deadly. Fortunately as time goes by many viruses lose their potency as a form of survival but also because our immune systems adapt and the weak are culled from the herd, hence the term herd immunity. The problem is what happens between now and then, hospitals are being filled across the nation and the world. Hospitals were built to house a known quantity of sick and dying based upon years and years of sick and dying, what we are seeing is above and beyond that…this is the 100 year storm, literally and figuratively. You linked to the CDC website excess death report, you should read what it says…more deaths this year than what would be normally expected, hence the term excess death. This really isn’t that hard to figure out, it’s happening, people are getting sick, people are dying, hospitals are being filled up.

        Government corruption and lies are nothing new, using a crisis to exploit and further the corruption and lies are nothing new, global pandemics are nothing new. The ONLY thing that is new is this virus. Pretending it’s the flu or that it’s not happening doesn’t make it go away, accepting that it is a new disease and that it is happening will help to get us back to normal life sooner rather than later.

      • Steve o , you hit it on the head when you said ”covid related” death . ( medical terminology) Thats in your words. Theres a big difference between a death from covid and a covid related death . Like you basically pointed out . If the guy hadn’t had severe cancer when he caught covid he would still be alive . So its clearly a combination death . You over simplified the outlook. Get it – the guy was about to die from cancer and covid finished him off . Happens with the flu and colds or whatever and they dont say a cold killed him . Cancer killed him and he caught a cold that finished him off . Were not talking totn rotator cuffs . Were talking imuno comprimised people or people about to die at any minute of heart disease regardless of what the next virus they catch it may kill them . Thats why you have lee way when determining cause of death . For you my Freind- dont die on this hill because in a few weeks you might agree with me after you think it through.

      • Steve o , think about what you said when you said contribute to death. At that point it must b acknowledged that there are co contributing factors that contribute to the cause of death . Its innacurate to say a 98 year old man died of only covid when he had been fighting cancer for years especially if he would have survived covid if he hadn’t had pre exist condition. Thus its fair to say both conditions killed him . In cdc guidelines it requires the underlying conditions to be mentioned on the bottom then subsequent illness then final description of death . Say sepsis ( which is a blood / systemic infection) #1 cancer #2 covid #3 final description sepsis ( systemic infection witch may be bacteria) you cant say bacteria killed him exactly even though bacteria was final cause of death and bacteria wouldn’t have killed him if he hadnt had cancer and then covid. So now do you see ? They dont list the death as bacteria even though that’s factually what ended his life . Not a virus. Medically they list pre exist conditions at bottom to give them recognition. Dying of covid after pre existing condition is just a complication of death . Other than studying medicine for years you might find a quick clarification from cdc death certificate guidelines or cdc physicians hand book for death certificates. Im not a doctor but i have studied medicine off and on for years . So dont take my word for it . Speak to a pathologist. Im not arguing with you per say just trying to clarify that there are often complicating factors when dying of covid that indicate the person may have been on the way out and could have died at any moment from various complicating factors. Thats why guidelines always say list pre existing. Because they must be given recognition. Yes covid may have contributed to finish them off but therin lies the legitimate confusion when listing it as soley covid in statistics when medically they give recognition to all pre existing. Particularly the first primary pre existing. I understand your confusion and misunderstanding. Its not exactly simple for the layman. Dont feel bad about being wrong. Its sort of like splitting hairs.

      • Steve o , I guess really the cause of deaths in these cases with pre existing or underlying causes should be stated as dying of cancer and complications arising from having cancer ( becouse they wouldn’t die if they didn’t have first – cancer – copd – aids – heart disease- obesity. Ect ) substitute any one of those items and say complications arising from such and such . That’s normally how its approached to my memory. ( please consult a pathologist because they are fully qualified to shed correct light on corspse designation) frankly I think marlin and Bryan are even more correct than i first relized . I never paid much attention to it and have no dog in fight because frankly i dont care if its 16 k or 300+ k . I never looked at this end because the bottom line is you dont step on with civil liberties and become a tyrant state just because a few variables change .”Tyrant” is slightly wrong word but it skipped my mind as to exact descriptor . Not facist but similar- Totatalitarian ? It’s whatever Germany became in 1933 when they issued edicts to overcome the “ dangers” they faced . So in short if marlin and Bryan are right then the reclassification for statistics is grave mistake. Consult someone else more knowledgeable than me . It would sure piss me off if Bryan and marlin were correct and it definitely appears they may be so i hope somehow im wrong which it appears im not .

      • DPR,

        I am not confused nor am I misunderstanding this, and your argument is with the CDC not me. I have consulted someone or something more knowledgeable than yourself, Bryan has also when he linked to the CDC where they say, once again, “COVID-19 should not be reported on the death certificate if it did not cause or contribute to the death.” Pretending that these deaths are not caused by covid goes beyond ignorance at this point, it’s willful ignorance, it’s the confusion you speak of, it’s the total and complete misunderstanding you speak of. If all of these people did not have covid would they have died, yes or no? It is that simple according to people far, far more knowledgeable about this subject than myself and clearly yourself.

        Take some time and read the CDC covid page, read how the deaths are tabulated, read about excess deaths while you are at it. Don’t take my word, or Marlins word, or Bryan’s word for it inform yourself like I’ve done.

      • Steve o , attempt to think for yourself. Not parroting how you personally interpret information from cdc which is always subject to change . Ive read plenty. You asked – would they have died yes or no ? Yes they would have died regardless of covid . and thats what you are ignoring. They had cancer copd aids ect . You sir are ignoring medical precedent. How its typically labeled. Died of complications arising from cancer – including but not limited to damaged imune systems where you are now susceptible to all manner of disease. The first item listed takes precedence and that is the underlying cause of death. Cancer ect ect . You are ignoring the facts of each case . 200 k plus had underlying causes of death. And were not talking rotator cuffs . Have you looked at each and every certification and case to see how bad the imune system and outlook for those patients were ? You over step your bounds of knowledge and instead of being stuck in a rut parroting your view of cdc saying cdc cdc cdc you should speak with a specialist on pathology so you go beyond your own current understanding. Im leaving the door open that I might be incorrect but at this time it doesn’t look like i am . Get back to me after you speak with specialists . I dont mind being wrong but bring some additional factual information to me to proove the typical way it would be described in times other than covid. By all appearances you are stuck in the need to be right and have gotten side tracked by that and are unable to think openly. Im listening for what you find after professional assistance.

      • DPR,

        “Yes they would have died regardless of covid”, yes you are correct we will all die at some point…no reason to be so obtuse. The question is would they have died when they did if it were not for covid. It really is simple, these deaths are caused by covid and yes comorbidities are involved, this isn’t news, it is a well known fact. If these people did not have covid they wouldn’t have died when they did with covid.

        You accuse me of ignoring things, and yet you ignore the fact that these people died with covid…which is the point of the entire conversation.

        And I always appreciate your personal attacks, they let me know you care!

      • Steve o , forgive me if I somehow presented the stance they didn’t die with covid. I do understand that . Also in this case forgive any what you see as personal attack. I didn’t mean it this time . Sometimes i do attack a bit personal to try and get a point across or entertain but not this time. I just used descriptors. I meant no offense and thats the truth. Maybe i was sloppy. But honestly i have no beef with you about classification ands not really my argument. As i dont particularly care except i saw steve Bryan marlin- all good people getting their lines crossed and was trying to shed some light. I care extremely about anti liberty lockdowns but frankly not much about particular number of desths or how they are classified. I saw you a generally accurate persona not acknowledging both sides and particularly throwing an inaccurate light on situation without trying to understand what two other unarticulate posters were presenting. It’s misleading not to fully recognize that underlying causes are a huge factor in these deaths and honest statistics would explain as much and not just classify as deaths from covid when in fact they are deaths from complications due to underlying diseases,both for understanding how to mitigate number if desths and how to form public policy. Not recognizing such falls into realm of fear mongering or just plan uneducated poorly done statistics . Basically those without major pre existing disease have very little to fear. 16 k out of how many contracted ? Make no mistake I understand the danger and repercussions of not recognizing the dangers to ill people or obese people. You are perhaps tilting at wrong windmill with me ? Again my oppolgies if I offended or attacked personally. Again these people may have died at any moment from pre existing, not just vague we all die sometimes- these were preexisting diseases the doctors considered worthy of listing first on death certificates. That in itself is worth considering. Yes of course covid was second then bacteria or shock or phnemonia bacteria or cardi distress Finnishes them. Like i said in first part before you got defensive- you also have a very good point

  3. From C.S Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age”, 1948 (please substitute “COVID” for “atomic”):

    In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
    In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
    This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

  4. A blogger with no editorial or peer review (and with no known scientific expertise or training) writes about certain studies without doing a meta-analysis of the body of scientific literature on the subject. Doesn’t seem like the best writing to have confidence in. And just like honey works better than vinegar in human persuasion, crap draws flies as the comment section illustrates. I suggest credible science journalists like Alaska’s Ned Rozell or the New York Times Carl Zimmer as an antidote.

    • Sierra marie , we know you are butt hurt and got your feelings hurt when Mr. Medred exposed your candidate al gross as a liar or at minimum a fabricator finaced by outside money . You show your lack of historical knowledge and indepth education and pain full inability to grasp reality when you cant discern a blogger from World renowned veteran news writer or reporter. You show your idiocy when you make assumption he’s had no scientific training as you are clearly grasping at a way to get vengeance, smear him and discount him and the information he presents . You make a personal attack instead of tearing into the meat of what he writes to find the inaccuracies because you cant find any and resort to personal slander . You use personal attacks becouse you are not intuitive enough to gain knowledge from what you read unless its spoon fed by a self proclaimed expert. Shame Marie shame . What have you done to better the world recently? You couldn’t tell a fly from a honey bee if it stung you .

      • DPR,
        Ughm not to disparage the esteemed career of World renowned veteran news writer C.M,but heres some brief bio clips.Give sierremarie the respect she deserves,cut with the condescending BS.Thats a good part of why Potus the Lame lost the election, just makes you look like an A**.Nobody is too hurt by A.G’s loss, except A.G.
        Ask yourself this, at this point in time who would be more potentially valuable now, mark begitch or dan sullivan.Lisa had to carry water for the party to get her committee seats, but it cost us down the road without a token democrat member.
        She gave away her impeachment vote for the opening of ANWR,she gave up her moral imperative for a lifeline for the State.Its hard to find fault for this imo.She tried to see the big picture.
        Unfortunately the potential lease sale will get snarled in court and thrown out for not following the process.So in other words we’ll get nothing (with regards to ANWR).The process should have been followed through last year,and we would have a proper lease sale this year.But the admin got caught up in self absorption (re election).
        On the plus side, construction/drilling to the west (NPR) will move forward with the defeat of Ballot measure 1.A not so subtle message was given to Slope companies in the board rooms that if it passed, they would have rolled up shop.

        “Ned Rozell is a science writer for the Geophysical Institute. He has been a freelance writer for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, the Anchorage Daily News, Mushing magazine, The Kenai Peninsula Clarion and others.
        In addition to his writing skills, Ned has experience in the great outdoors. During the summers of 1993 and 1994 he was a back country ranger for the National park Service in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, a 100-mile buffer zone around the Yukon and Charley Rivers between Eagle and Circle, Alaska. He has worked for the State of Alaska as a wildlands firefighter. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he worked for Veco as an oil recovery technician.
        Ned earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1990.”

        Carl Zimmer (born 1966) is a popular science writer, blogger, columnist, and journalist who specializes in the topics of evolution, parasites, and heredity. He is the author of many books and contributes science essays to publications such as The New York Times, Discover, and National Geographic. He is a fellow at Yale University’s Morse College and adjunct professor of Molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University. Besides his popular science writing, Zimmer also gives frequent lectures, and has appeared on many radio shows, including National Public Radio’s Radiolab, Fresh Air and This American Life.[1] (wikipedia)

      • Disparage at will. I’ve been called far worse.

        But what’s your point? Credentials and appearances on “radio shows” trump data?

        Craig Medred has been published in just about every major newspaper in America. Maybe every. BFD and so what?

        What any of us did or didn’t do is history. The issue is what we can contribute to the discussion in the here and now.

        That said, I happen to agree with you on the ANWR and the NS in general, but it doesn’t really matter. We’re in the midst of an energy revolution, and thus again, the past is history.

        What matters is the here and now and how well we gamble on the future. So what do you know about a company called Hydrogenious and extracting hydrogen from natural gas?

        P.S. How do you presume to know seirremarie – a he, she or other operating under a pseudonym – deserves respect? It could be a troll or even you posting under another identify, though I know that’s not the case even if those lacking access to the email address could be sure. It’s one of the many problems with the online world.

      • Dave Mc , you still haven’t made any effort to explain yourself prior discussion. Is that because you are unable to ? I believe it was Einstein who said if you cant explain it to the uneducated then you don’t understand the topic yourself. Now as to Sierra Marie who probably isn’t Sierra marie feel free to defend her ( him ) . Respect is earned and when she gives respect due i will the same . I will cut with the condescending bs when you and him/her grow up 😉. Btw thanks for the outline of those other authors. Im not impressed. Dime a dozen. Now if you said some serious scientists I would stand at attention but apparently it’s just more wannabes experts . If they write something good i will listen carefully. Otherwise its just more opinionated talking heads like yourself. Everyones got one . Now tell me something i don’t know and can learn from . Dont waste our time. Im extremely interested and frankly waiting and desire to learn. Otherwise sell your substanceless dribble opinions to someone more gullible. When you explain your prior point i will treat that with respect.

      • Craig,
        Easy hoss,I wasn’t slamming you, merely copy/paste.Some have questioned your “data”,since non peer reviewed isn’t necessarily the best filter.Im all for open minds when looking for solutions.But the scientific method is just that.
        Do I believe that ocean ranching humpies could be to the detriment of higher value/lower volume species, yes.Peer reviewed scientific proof, very hard to prove, and ginormously expensive, to prove that end.
        Do I believe the State of Alaska BOF has unintentionally (initially)and now intentionally turned a blind eye to the ramifications of humpy ranching?Yes

        Can I or anybody else come up with the proof “data”,Hah!?Whats happened has happened, to many entrenched moats now.
        Do I believe masks, the right masks,when used properly could alter the rate of virus infection,or load,yes.
        Proof,are you kidding me, outside of a controlled laboratory,near impossible,to many real world variables.
        Do I believe the Age of Oil has peaked, and with it near term State of Alaska prospects?Yes,data?
        Thats in hindsight, connecting the dots takes time, and an open mind.
        Do I believe in global warming, yes,do I believe that some or a good part is man made, yes..
        Data..?
        We have a solid 100yrs of wx observations now for state of Ak,longer for rest of world.You could easily core sample arctic/antarctic ice packs for particulate samples(which has been done).Does the data prove that man ruined the world, inconclusive at best.Does the data imply that-yes,I believe it does,but thats not peer reviewed science.
        Fuel cells aren’t in my wheelhouse,i know they’re coming, but Im still trying to wrap my head around electricity.That buildout should keep us busy for a couple of decades at least.
        Like structured religion, energy domination is about control.For every Elon Musk,how many De Loreans litter the last 100yrs of auto history.The global majors in auto’s are trying to catch up now.Does the data say this will happen, no.But the projections do, again its best seen in hindsight.Sort of like the swirl around this virus.
        Elon Musk’s genius (besides being a genius)was figuring out how to partner with the govt,think EV,space launch vehicles,Tunnel bore(not so much)
        In Texas there was a man by the name of George Mitchell,who partnered with the DOE in the ’70’s,and fostered the idea of Nat gas fracking in the Barnette shale basin.And the rest is history.
        Point being,fuel cells would probably need to be fertilized by global govt subsidies of some sort, the same way Musk empire is/was.
        Again,energy domination is about control,besides traditional international energy companies, theres now quite a bit of private $Billions sloshing around the globe looking for the next Amazon.
        Somebody(s) will make incremental gains, and then when it reaches the tipping point, everyone will be willing experts with tons of cash for solutions.
        Will the state somehow transition to the new normal in time, the “data” doesn’t look promising, but inconclusive.

        PS.-the posters name is sierramare,several of us made pre conceived gender bias determinations.And why wouldn’t they deserve a modicum of respect.Of course its your sand box…

      • Dave: You know me. I respect everyone. Some days I just have a low tolerance for bullshit and name-calling. Lord knows how many times I’ve almost blocked Bryan.

        He needs to tone it down if for no other reason than that yelling at people and insulting them doesn’t change minds.

        I think we’re in agreement here that science often doesn’t tell us nearly as much as we want to know, and scientists aren’t much better at predicting the future than economists.

        That said, some waves can be seen coming from far away before they bury your boat under bluewater. Been there.

        The energy wave, in this regard, is clearly dictated by infrastructure. Electricity has again become attractive because batteries have improved, and because we can move the juice around with existing powerlines.

        If Hydrogenious is truly onto a system for moving hydrogen efficiently through existing pipelines that could be a game-changer, too, given hydrogen’s ultra-low environmental impact and the ability to use otherwise unusable electricity from wind or solar to create it from water, thus making hydrogen an efficient way to store that otherwise wasted renewable energy.

        Now, do I believe masks do much of anything? No.

        Why? Because if filtering the air was a big evolutionary advantage, one has to believe that over the tens of thousands of years of evolution, some mammal would have evolved the ability to breathe through its skin, like a fly, and thus filter the air – if for other reason than to deal with particulates in nasty environments.

        That hasn’t happened. Instead we evolved mucosal defenses. https://jcs.biologists.org/content/130/2/307

        Not to mention that the study of masks in the medical environment before this panic-demic started concluded that they appeared to have no bearing on infections. That study wasn’t definitive either, but I give slightly more credence to studies performed in a calm, thinking environment than studies performed during a panic.

        I also believe I could be wrong. Why? Because as you duly note, there really isn’t enough data to support any solid conclusion on masking to protect others, and when it comes to masking to protect oneself, a hazmat suit is demonstrably better than a mask. But it comes with all sorts of issues.

        Think how scary it would be to be the patient being treated by people in hazmat suits.

        As for peer review, it can be excellent – if the reviewers start off from the standpoint that “this is hard to believe” – and it can be shit – if the reviewers start off from the point that “this is obvious.”

        There’s an old George Patton observation that applies there (and often elsewhere): “If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.”

        Journo-politics have long been subject to this. Think back to tailgunner Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare in which the media played a major role. Science hasn’t been immune to this sort of thing either.

        I think you’re old enough to remember when lobotomies were being done in this country to cure mental illness, or at least old enough to be familiar with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next.

      • Craig,
        no worries, id say we align more than cross.And I am impressed with your inquisitiveness and dogged determination to arrive at a focal point,
        These days I work with equipment maintainance,after a bit over 10yrs,Ive come to the conclusion that real mechanics are born that way.You can make them, but they always burn out, the ones that last are born with something that makes them excell.
        I wonder if investigative journo’s might be the same.
        In a past life if there is such a thing,you might have been an alchemist.Maybe burned at the stake, or drawn and quartered for being one of those round earther guys.
        Keep up the good work

      • Dave,

        I’m in the maintenance and operations business also and I completely agree with you when you say “real mechanics are born that way”. However, I do not think you can make them. I’ve tried but if you aren’t a mechanic, you aren’t a mechanic. Just like if you aren’t an electrician, you aren’t an electrician. You can make an operator out of anyone, but you can’t make a mechanic or an electrician, either you is or you isn’t. Of course there are always those who try and fake it until you make it, maybe that’s the burn out you are talking about?

    • Guilani & Powell press conference yesterday was a sham. Rudy’s black hair dye was trickling down his cheeks. He is receiving $20K a day for all of his lies and misinformation. You GOP donors, is this the best you can do?

      • What lies? Voter fraud? What about Biden’s Russian, Ukrainian, and Chinese collusion? Any word on the laptop James or have you not heard about any of that with the leftist “news” blackout?

      • your man Gohmert proved that people who contract covid do develop psychiatric disorders. What is today’s conspiracy theory.

  5. Just wanted to point out that half the people on the mask group didn’t actually wear them making any conclusions equivocal at best. The study authors point this out in their conclusion

    • And it’s more than likely some didn’t wear them properly, and even more likely that almost none of them followed proper protocols for PPE. These are, unfortunately, the variables of the real world.

      Would a combination of masks, social distancing, hand washing and building ventilation employed religiously across the broad spectrum of the general population reduce the R? It would certainly appear so.

      Is it realistic to think any such recommendations would be followed religiously enough to get the R under 1? I’d suggest a comparison of the data for Mass., which has been trying on hard on most of these front since the spring, and Sweden, which…well, we all know about Sweden.

      Mass. is reporting 20 to 40 deaths per day. Sweden is reporting 20 to 30 deaths per day. Swedish infection rates are significantly higher, but fewer Swedes are dying. I somehow doubt Swedish health care is that much better.

      It could be Swedes are fundamentally healthier. I can remember when doctors involved with the Framingham study suggested putting meds in the water there might be the most cost-effective way to treat cardiovascular disease given how many Framingham residents suffered from it.

      This is a complicated situation. Masks are a simple answer. The world is seldom simple.

      The whole thing reminds me of predator control in Alaska. The simple answer to putting a moose or caribou behind every bush is to kill all the wolves and bears. The problem is that you can do that and still encounter confounders – weather, disease, habitat decline – that ruin the whole idea.

      I don’t know whether masks help or hurt. I wear one in public to make other people feel better. At this point, I’d wear a tinfoil hat in public if made people feel better. I don’t consider it a major intrusion on my personal freedom, and clearly it makes a lot of people feel better.

      But feelings are a separate issue from facts. The reality is, we don’t know if public masking does much of anything, and I’ve been reporting on science long enough to remember when the medical community was debating whether they were even needed in hospitals because the data questioned whether they protected anyone.

      The hospital evidence now would indicate N95s, face shields, gowns, shoe covers and the proper use of all of those things have COVID-19 protective value for the wearer. But even there the protective value to the community of HCWs in the building is open to debate.

      But my bigger question of masks are these?

      If they work, why would ever take them off? They would appear every bit as protective against the flu and other airborne diseases as against SARS-CoV-2, and as we all know the flu vaccines aren’t all that good.

      And if they work? Why were annual deaths from respiratory diseases in places like Taiwan, where masking is normal, historically so much higher than places like Sweden, where masks are uncommon?

      It’s not a simple situation.

  6. Ask yourself- what did our ancestors come to America for ? To be forced to wear a mask ? Or for the liberty to choose? Land of sheep and tyrants we now inhabit.Everyone looking to be led . Looking upon the Grave yards of the brave and free . It is not our fathers land . Can we all agree superman is not coming and its up to all of us average humans to stand up , use critical thinking and not submit to arbitrary decrees by facist tyrants who have lost their sense of self? The science is demanding to be heard . Masks are not effective. Economic Shut downs are not effective. The strongest laws in our land point towards liberty. The power hungry have distorted our laws to force us all to obay . Stand together and do not submit. The time is past for those in power to eat cake and honor themselves. Who among you will make a stand for themselves? Mask up ? Only if i choose its the right thing to do . Not because some govenor / king some mayor/ lord says i must .

    • You are mentally ill and while you write against authoritarianism, you are nothing but another Trump Cultist, taking orders from the authoritarian Trump. Go away.

      • Ally: Take a deep breath. People are not mentally ill because their views differ from yours. Neither does that make them Trump cultists.

        There was an American who once muttered “give me liberty or give me death.” Individual choice is a sacred American tradition. The country wouldn’t exist without people who valued freedom so high they took extreme risks to achieve it.

        But this is also what makes communal problems hard to deal with. Personally, I am of the belief all of this would have gone better if government had asked, as people in Sweden have been asked, instead of dictated.

        It is generally easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.

      • Craigmedred: Patrick Henry was speaking in church. He was in danger of nothing but overacting. Nathan Hale on the other hand, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”, spoke his last words with a noose around his neck. Our American patriot!

    • Y cooper . I beg to differ. Verbal dissent in the times of our founders represented a grave danger to themselves and their loved ones . A church was not secure in that era nor is it now . That era was an especially dangerous time to have radical opinions and it was truly a stroke of luck and hard work that kept those involved from loosing their lives to a man . We are again coming round to dangerous tyranical situation.

    • DPR,
      As a latchkey kid growing up in Socal in the 60’s,I remember more often than not eating dinner with my fam on TV trays infront of a B/W TV with names like Smith,Reasoner/Macneil,Lehrer.And of course Cronkite(not to sound sexist,I just don’t remember any women from that era).
      On a near nightly basis from about ’67-71 there was a constant stream of video of people who for various reasons and demeanor didn’t like the idea of being a conscript for the Govt foreign agenda at the time.
      Many times often sounding quite like your post, either verbally or in ink.There drama of course was much different than now, but the same cycle seems to be repeating(at least to me).
      Some were fairly laid back, others quite vocal. Some were hot, sweaty and in olive drab at some distant firebase, resigned to there fate.
      Often the more rated G adjectives used to describe these citizens were; unpatriotic,treasonous,and of course Communist.

      • Dave Mc , please explain your point. It kind of went over my head. Are you saying people in the 60s were still patriotic, independent thinkers who were not brainwashed? People who took pride in their lifes work and what their country represented? People whos word was their honor and went out of their way to follow through on a promise and help other people? People who understood it was dishonest not to put in a Hard days work for what they received and wouldn’t dream of reaching in their neighbors pockets to equalize their own ? People who believed in merit of deeds and effort and didn’t try and force their twisted concept of equality on others? Please elaborate and explain. I may have missed your point.

      • DPR,no you pretty much missed it,or dont want to acknowledge it.
        Perhaps its my shortcomings in writing skills.
        Its an interesting perspective (imo).Its not original, far more learned men then myself have written about it.

      • Dave Mc , please do your best to explain it . I promise i wont deride it or anything in this thread . Im interested and desire to learn.

  7. Watching these “mask avengers” walk around the grocery stores and TOUCH THEIR FACES hundreds of times a day (adjusting their masks)…it is easy to see that wearing masks is not stopping the spread of this Wuhan virus…it might actually be helping it spread?

    • Steve,

      That is a prime example of the cure becoming worse than the disease, not that masks are or were ever a cure. When the thing designed to protect you becomes the disease spreading fomite that is a problem and probably why the mask studies are all over the map. People donning and doffing their mask incorrectly is without a doubt a problem.

    • On the one side we have barely renowned large slimy troll with an inability to intake information and fact based knowledge who then profusely expells supposition and opinion as fact in a distortion of reality. Utilizing irrational statements from his cherry picked experts . Thus accomplishing master troll Monks scheme to muddy the waters of fact based discussions. Troll monk then howls gleefully about his success propagating non think on the sheep of the world while smearing hard working honest reporter medred with unfounded derision . He quickly turns on his tv to watch young turks and reaches into a bowl to chomp on more lost souls of socialists and the worlds mentally blind . Chuckling as he crunches their unsuspecting souls into oblivion. Heh heh heh 👹

    • Factually wrong again, Monk. I am a DuckDuckGoer, Binger, MedRxiver, CEBMer, BMJer, CIDRAPper and way too much more. I blame my grandfather who was a voracious reader.

      Research is fun. You should try it.

  8. It saddens me that the driving force of dealing with this pandemic has been fear. Of course we want to protect our children- that is, the younger generation. But we old folks who are more likely than they to die from or with Covid, are behaving like “those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery”. We all have to die sometime – it’s a fact of life. Be prepared for that eventuality.

    • Hello Miss Charlotte: You speak for us all. But as for me, if you please, I will speak for myself. I will not prepare. I will joyfully
      “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” –Dylan Thomas

    • Charlotte,
      Thoughtfull post,perhaps some feel that way because the potential risk and outcomes are to a certain degree,avoidable

  9. Amazing that a disease with a combined mass of .22 to 2.2 pounds could cause such devastation…whether it be death, sickness, political, social, economic, or any and all of the other global devastation. Humanity isn’t as tough, and we certainly don’t have the impact on a pound per pound basis, as some think we do.

    Perspective is so often lacking. We haven’t seen a pandemic like this in 100 years and so we don’t have the perspective to properly understand all of this new to us information.

    • Amazing and scary. You got to wonder what Kim Jung Il is thinking. In my nightmare, it’s something like this: “Why are we spending all this money on nukes when we could just develop a good bio-chem warfare lab to create a germ we could use to scare the living bejesus out of the rest of the word if we’re threatened?”

  10. Interesting tid-bit from Tucker. So, let’s close all the schools. Of course masks aren’t mandatory for Gavin Newsome and his fellow dinner travelers. Dirtbag liberals.
    “Gavin Newsom is the governor of California, our largest and — for a long time — our most prosperous state. About 40 million people live in California. So far, two of them under the age of 18 have died of COVID-19.”

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