How it ends?


With the World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday suggesting 60 percent of Europe could be infected with the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by March, it’s a good time to take a look back at the history of the flu and ask a few questions about masks.

The past is rarely a perfect blueprint for the future, and a coronavirus such as SARS-CoV-2 is different from an influenza virus, but the past is often a prologue for the future and SARS-CoV-2 is to date tracking along the lines influenza followed in the wake of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19.

But first a question about the masks and face coverings that a variety of countries around the globe, including the United States, have pushed as the life preservers of the COVID-19 pandemic driven by the constantly evolving SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The virus has now moved on from the more deadly Delta variant to the more contagious but less deadly Omicron variant, and this is one of several important points being made about the latter.

“Because the proportion of cases that are asymptomatic or mild has increased compared with previous SARS-CoV-2 variants, the global infection-detection rate has declined globally from 20 percent to 5 percent,” The Lancet, a highly respected medical journal, reported last week.

“Understanding the burden of omicron depends crucially on the proportion of asymptomatic infections. A systematic review based on previous SARS-CoV-2 variants suggested that 40 percent of infections were asymptomatic. Evidence suggests that the proportion of asymptomatic infections is much higher for Omicron, perhaps as high as 80 to 90 percent.”

So if 60 percent of heavily masked Europe is going to be known to be infected by March, and if 80 or 90 percent of the rest of the population is likely to be infected but not know it because they have no symptoms, does that mean that without masks everyone in Europe would be infected?

Because the numbers here work out to an infection rate of over 90 percent if these things are true. And The Lancet did more or less suggest just about everyone is going to get infected with or without masks and/or vaccines.

“Surprisingly, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) models suggest that the transmission intensity of omicron is so high that policy actions – increasing mask use, expanding vaccination coverage in people who have not been vaccinated, or delivering third doses of COVID-19 vaccines — taken in the next weeks will have limited impact on the course of the omicron wave,” the Institute’s Christopher JL Murray wrote for the Lancet. “IHME estimates suggest that increasing use of masks to 80 percent of the population, for example, will only reduce cumulative infections over the next four months by 10 percent. Increasing COVID-19 vaccine boosters or vaccinating people who have not yet been vaccinated is unlikely to have any substantial impact on the omicron wave because by the time these interventions are scaled up the omicron wave will be largely over.”

All of this comes at a time when the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic has been focused on efforts to force Americans to get vaccinated, boosted and masked.  President Joe Biden last week trumpeted a plan to distribute 400 million, high-quality N95 masks for free, and CNN reported an “administration official” Monday said that “last week masks began shipping and arriving at pharmacies and grocers around (the) country. We expect that throughout the week the number of stores and N95s arriving to scale up significantly.”

The story echoed the Centers for Disease Control position that “masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask.”

People versus peoples

There is some evidence to support the belief that masks offer some protection at the individual level, and N95s are the gold standard for masks. But the evidence that masks do much of anything at the population level remains thin due to a lack of research and testing.

There are “models” suggesting great public benefits from masking, and for people who must use public transportation or work in closed spaces potentially full of SARS-CoV-2 pathogens, there are really no options other than masking to try to get some protection.

The two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) done on masks, however, have shown little or no benefit, and testing of masks in mask-test dummies (more on this to follow) concluded masks could make things worse.

You’ve likely read nothing about the latter study because it challenges the conventional wisdom. As to the RCTs – RCTs being the gold standard of medical testing – both attracted considerable attention along with debate as to their meaning.

The first, in Denmark, concluded masks did nothing, but the authors conceded that because infections rates were low at the time the trial was conducted they couldn’t dismiss the possibility masks might help in some situations. The second, in Bangladesh, found an 11 percent reduction in infections in a masked population versus an unmasked one based on the infection of 7.63 percent of the people in the masked group and 8.6 percent of the peole in the control group.

Some argued this showed masks of great benefit. Others argued the opposite. You can form your own opinion based on the numbers.

Now, to the study of how masks actually work that got almost no media attention anywhere. It was conducted by engineers in India who did what engineers for General Motors did in the early 1970s to allow for the testing of seat belts, they created a crash-test dummy. 

Or, in this case, a mask-test dummy.

They built a sprayer that could be adjusted to mimic “normal breathing, coughing (and) sneezing, and installed it in the head of a manikin, they reported. They then used the manikin “to replicate the spray similar to that of an actual cough or sneeze as explained before by matching the parameters like droplet size, velocity range, and spray size. The main objective is to check for the penetration characteristics and get comprehensive insights into the spray impingement and penetration phenomena. An actual spray is used for impingement in (the) current study instead of (a) single droplet, which has been investigated in our previous work.”

Their study was published online at MedRxiv, the preprint server for health sciences, on Nov. 28. MedRxiv is not peer-reviewed. Much of the science surrounding the rapidly and steadily evolving SARS-CoV-2 virus has been published first there, and none of it has been peer-reviewed.

Which MedRxiv studies attract media attention appear to some degree influenced by what is politically correct, and masks have become politically correct (PC). The Indian study was not PC.

Very few health professionals have been willing to publicly question maskings. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist for the Swedish public health authority was one of the few who did. In April 2020, he warned that masks could create a false sense of security.

“It is very dangerous to try to believe that masks are a silver bullet,” he messaged the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), only to be taken to task by Science magazine months later. 

Sweden’s “cumulative death rate since the beginning of the pandemic rivals that of the United States, with its shambolic response,” Berlin-based reporter Gretchen Vogel wrote there. “And the virus took a shocking toll on the most vulnerable.”

Tegnell has admitted to a failure in protecting the elderly in Swedish care homes, but he has not wavered in his position on masking as generally unhelpful if not dangerous. And as of today, the death rate in Sweden since the start of the pandemic stands at 153 per 1`00,000, significantly lower than the U.S. at 266 per 100, according to the Worldometer tracker.

Sweden is generally in line with the rest of Europe with death rates in Hungary (426/100,000), Poland (275/100,000), Belguim (247/100,000), Italy (239/100,000), the United Kingdom (225/100,000), Greece (220/100,000) Spain (197/100,000), France (196/1`00,00), Austria (154/100,000) and a few other countries higher, death rates in Switzerland (145/100,000) and Germany (140/100,000) near statistically the same; and the numbers in the Netherlands (123/100,000), Denmark (62/100,000) and Norway (which largely closed its borders but like Sweden did not widely mask at 29/100,000) and a few other countries lower.

These wide differences between European countries mimic those in the U.S. states where there is a more than fourfold difference between the 361 per 100,000 dead in Mississippi and the 81 per 100,000 dead in Hawaii.

A peer-reviewed study of death rates in 30 different industrialized countries published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism last February concluded these big differences were best “explained by differences in obesity rates, population health, population densities, age demographics, delays in imposing national virus control measures, per capita gross domestic product and climate (in that order).”

The national virus control measure that appears to have worked best is keeping people away from each other. Infection and death rates throughout the various waves of the pandemic have gone up as people started mingling and gone down when, worried about the spreading virus, they spent less time mingling.

Social animals

The mingle factor is a huge confounder in trying to find any effect as to mask as University of Vermont researchers who appeared of the opinion masks help. After studying them, however, they came to this conclusion:

COVID-19 cases were not related to masks but to “the number of contacts with adults and seniors, particularly contacts with people who are themselves COVID-19 positive. The factors that predict contacts, in turn, are working environment, living environment and, disturbingly, regularly wearing a mask outside of work. This study reinforces the concerns about risks for persons who have high levels of public contact during the pandemic.”

How could this be possible?

Well, according to the engineers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and a participating colleague at the University of California San Diego, it could be because masks don’t magically make SARS-CoV-2 viruses disappear.

Now, admittedly these are engineers, and the  “follow-the-science” preachers in the U.s. appear to think one should only listen to epidemiologists on the subject of SARS-CoV-2,  interdisciplinary science apparently having gone out of vogue.

Whatever the case, the engineers did build a model, masked it, pumped virus-size nanoparticles into the mask and discovered that the masks do a nice job of blocking the spittle that is a part of every human breath, but not the viruses contained in the spittle.

“It is evident from the data that the droplets of different sizes atomize into even smaller daughter droplets, resulting in significant aerosolization,” they wrote. Aerosols are the itsy-bitsy particles that can stay suspended in the air for considerable lengths of time and thus cover considerable distances.

To study what this means, the engineers put their mannikins face to face and let one cough on the other.

After studying the results, they concluded that simple, single-layer masks are “not sufficient to reduce the risk of infection even if the single-layer masks are worn by both infected and susceptible person. Thus, the experiments clearly suggest the necessity of the need of multiple layers as well as social distancing in mitigating the spread of contagious respiratory diseases.”

The masks did entrap some particles. Whether the entrapment was significant, the researchers said, requires more study. And they added that this aspect “mandates the necessity to follow proper disposal methods for handling face masks after utilization.”

Anyone who has observed the behavior of masked humans these days knows how careless people have become in their handling of masks. Masks are often more for show than health. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if there is someone out there now who became infected by borrowing a mask from someone else so they could be appropriately “dressed” to rush into a store in communities where masking was mandated.

Actually, it wouldn’t be surprising if any number of people ended up infected in this way.

Meanwhile, you might have noticed people’s hands are all over their masks all the time, and afterward, their hands are all over other things. Given this, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that infections with the Omicron variant – which recent research discovered survives for a much longer than earlier variants on human hands and plastic – have exploded around the world.

The study in India, it should be noted, was conducted before the even-more contagious Omicron variant emerged.  And given that developing COVID-19 after exposure to any SARS-CoV-2 appears to be “dose-related,” as many things are, the infectiveness of Omicron might be an important element in its rapid spread.

If it causes more disease at a lower dose, that change might well mask any progress masks were making in slowing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 – if masks were making any progress.

Be thankful then that Omicron appears less deadly than the SARS-CoV-2 variants that proceeded it. There is now worldwide agreement that is the case, but considerable debate about whether the next variants will be more or less virulent than Omicron, which is where the history of the flu becomes interesting.

The forgotten epidemics

The devastation of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19 is hard to imagine even with what is going on today. In a peer-reviewed study of influenza from 1900 to 2018, published in Infectious Disease Modeling last June, University of Toronto (Canada) researcher Michele Campolieti put the U.S. death rate for that influenza outbreak at 589.6 per 100,000.

That is more than twice the death rate in the U.S. for Covid-19as of today, according to the Worldometer tracker, and more than 60 percent higher than the 361.4 per 100,000 death rate in Mississippi, the state hardest hit by the current pandemic.

Given the nightmare of the Spanish flu, the years that followed with flu death rates near 150 per 100,000 have been forgotten. Alaska’s present death rate of 142 per 100,000 would have been almost normal in those years.

Campolieti’s data shows mortality pushing near to 150 deaths per 100,000 for four years in the 1920s, and it pushed near 125 per 100,000 again in 1935 but there was through all the waves that following 1918-19 a constant, downward trend.

“…The mortality rates for influenza (including pneumonia) show a steady decline during the first half of the 20th century before leveling off in the 1950s,” she wrote, echoing the observations of MIT researcher Peter Doshi who in 2008 penned a history of the flu from 1900 to 2004 for the American Journal of Public Health.

Doshi’s work reflected what a wildlife ecologist might describe as a species’ natural adaptation to a new pathogen.

The average seasonal rate once near 100 deaths per 100,000 in the 1920s fell to an average “rate of 10.2 deaths per 100 000 population in the 1940s (and) to 0.56 per 100,000 by the 1990s,” he observed.

From the 1920s on, he wrote, pandemic years  – pandemic being defined by the arrival of a new virus and not the number of people dead – “do not stand out as exceptional outliers, nor were these pandemics visually discernable from nonpandemics in seasonal or monthly influenza mortality graphs. In fact, although nonpandemic influenza seasonal death rates never exceeded prior pandemic seasonal death rates, many nonpandemic seasons were more deadly than subsequent pandemics.”

But there was that always trending downward in deaths despite annual ups and downs. Doshi attributed this to natural adaptations.

“The overall decline in influenza-attributed mortality over the 20th century cannot be the result of influenza vaccination, because vaccination did not become available until the 1940s and was not widely used until the late 1980s,” he wrote. “This rapid decline, which commenced around the end of World War II, points to the possibility that social changes led to a change in the ecology of influenza viruses.”

The death rate in these 60 years fell from the nearly 589 deaths per 100,000 during the Spanish flu to less than one per 100,000 by the start of the 1990s when doctors began to heavily push flu vaccines.

“I found that declining mortality rates occurred simultaneously with expanded influenza vaccine coverage since 1980, especially for the elderly (65 years and older),” Doshi said. “However, recent research suggests that vaccination is an unlikely explanation of mortality trends. A 2005 US National Institutes of Health study of over 30 influenza seasons ‘could not correlate increasing vaccination coverage after 1980 with declining mortality rates in any age group.’

“Other research has reviewed available international studies of inactivated influenza vaccine effectiveness and efficacy. One study concluded that ‘evidence from systematic reviews shows that inactivated vaccines have little or no effect on the effects measured.’ Considered in light of the data presented here, these studies imply that other causes – such as an improvement in living conditions or naturally acquired immunity from similar strains of influenza virus – may have been partially responsible for the declining trends in recorded influenza mortality.”

Or, there could be still other factors.

Focusing too intently on vaccines, Doshi warned more than a decade ago, “risks overlooking other significant microbial and nonmicrobial host and environmental factors that influence the course of human disease. The severity and clinical expression of disease depend on a multiplicity of additional factors, such as the novelty of the pathogen to the host, age, cocirculating pathogens, living conditions, physiological status, and access to treatment.”

Some of those factors – most notably a new novel pathogen in the form of SARS-CoV-2, an older population thanks to improvements in health care, higher density living conditions in some hard-hit places like New Jersey and declining physiological status – have now come back to boost the death rate in the Covid-19 pandemic, which has focused heavily on people with comorbidities and those of middle-age and older.

As of Monday, Centers for Disease Control data showed that 98.82 percent of the more than 848,000 Americans whose deaths are blamed on Covid-19 were over the age of 40 and 88.75 percent of the deaths were among people over age 50.

And the majority of these people were suffering with physiological weaknesses ranging from metabolic disease linked to obesity to high-blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and more before they were infected.

The one thing that could be said at the start of the pandemic in early 2020 is even more true of the pandemic now: It is not killing the young and the fit; it is predominately killing the old and the weak.

Which is, sadly, sort of how nature works no matter how humankind might like to believe that it’s moved beyond nature.




38 replies »

  1. Steve o,
    I would like to point out you were horribly wrong about Israel. The news variant omicron wave is a disaster. Currently 500,000 thousand infected I believe. 1,000+ in critical condition. 600 more dead in last aprx 30 days . That rate is pretty extreme and its due Omicron. 30-50 dying each day in last aprx week . That rate is significant. Its as bad as before. Infection rates are worse. The vacines snd masks have not done the job. You were wrong in your suggestion that omicron wasn’t a problem regarding desth for Israelis. Aprx 7-8.% of total have now died in one month. Thats a frocking disaster.

    • Israel did see a spike in deaths, but the tide turned about a week ago and then began falling rapidly:

      The spike could have been due to Israel doing an excellent job of protecting its most vulnerable early on only to have the more infectious Omicron variant arrive. For people near death already, it sometimes doesn’t take much of a respiratory infection to push them over the edge as has long been the case with the flu in this country.

      Flu deaths are thought to be undercounted because, as one study put it, “many influenza-associated deaths occur one or two weeks after the initial infection (when viral shedding has ended), either because of secondary bacterial infections12–14 or because the influenza has exacerbated chronic illnesses (e.g., congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).”

      There seems little doubt that if past flu testing had been as extensive as present Covid-19 testing, we would have seen a lot more people dead of flu, especially old people given that past CDC reports have cataloged those at age 65 and older comprising 50 percent or more of the annual mortality.

      Based on what we have seen of Covid-19 to date, I would expect, though I don’t have that data handy, that old people comprised most of the deaths in that peak in Omicron mortality in Israel.

    • Dpr,

      Instead of being busy taking laps and dancing on the graves of the dead, you should look to the data. The problem is, the data doesn’t support your narrative. At this point there’s enough information out there for anyone to find that shows those who become sick and dead are made up disproportionately of the unvaccinated, especially the old and unvaccinated. This is the case in Israel and it is the case here in Alaska.

      The Israel Health Ministry website breaks down the seriously ill and deaths by under 60 and over 60 and by vaccination status. In the last month, the data shows definitively that the unvaccinated, especially those over 60 make up a disproportionate number of the seriously ill and those who have died.

      Those who are over 60 and unvaccinated are not just more likely to get covid, but become seriously ill and they are more likely by a factor of 10:1 over the vaccinated. The unvaccinated are also more likely to die at a higher rate than the vaccinated.
      From the IHM website, in the last 30 days there have been 522 deaths 485 or 93% in those over 60. There were 37 death in those under 60 who, 26 (70%) were unvaccinated in a country that has a 65-67% vaccination rate. Just look at the data per 100,000 it’s amazing what vaccination status tells us about how a group above 60 will respond and how a group below 60 will respond.

      After reviewing this data I have absolutely no problem saying that vaccines are protecting people, it protects those under 60 from death and it protects people over 60 from becoming seriously ill and dying. If you think what we have now is a “frocking disaster”, just imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have vaccines available!

      • Steve o , i know you love to argue so imagine what it would be like without these faulty vaccines- we would have kept our distance from one another and the pandemic would have come to an abrupt end ! But instead people think i have the vacine . Im good to party like aoc , tredeau , ect ect . The vacinated caused the biggest super spreading event. You bring a great point— the old and sick that are unvaccinated die easily. Ask yourself why didn’t they get the vaccine? Were thry to comprimised to get the vaccine? To risky for them ? Immune comprimised ect ? Also you no doubt are calling people without 2-3 boosters unvaccinated. Judt a possibility thought. As to your constant lies such such as me dancing on the dead – you are sick . I do no such thing and have the greatest compassion for those people. Steve – stop lying- stop twisting the facts . You are good at it but its a sick habit. Just stop . I didn’t dance on anyone! What little you are correct on gets lost when 50% of the time you spout twisted lies . Its disfunctional and dishonest steve. ( someone with your great intelligence should put it to greater positive usage )

      • DPR,
        I can’t blame you for trying to change the subject, I just wish you’d try to objectively look at the data…but I guess you’ve dug in like a tick.

        The data speak for itself, your name calling and insults do as well.

      • Steve-O: You got the data right. Good job. But you ignored one significant confounder.

        If you look at vaccination rates in Israel, you might notice the number of unvaccinated climbs steadily (as does the death rate from age 60 through the 90+ group. There’s a reason for this. There are some people in that group too fragile to vaccinate and possibly, as the Norwegians found, so close to the end of life that vaccination would not be worth it:

        Haaretz had a pretty good summary early in the month:

        “Overall in Israel, according to Health Ministry data, only 14 percent of Israelis over 20 are unvaccinated, yet they account for 45 percent of serious COVID cases. The numbers are even more clear when examining the use of life-saving measures such as ECMO machines and ventilators.”

        Clearly the vaccines help, but they didn’t help for the 55 percent who got vaccinated and still ended up with serious COVID. What really does seem to help in that regard is being young and fit, but I don’t want to get up on that soapbox again other than to say that years from now I’m confident that someone will do a study showing that if we’d try to get people healthier than this started we would have saved a shit load of lives.

        Now, for a lot of people, there is little choice but the vax for protection. Anyone who is over 50, fat and out of shape is just being foolish if they don’t get vaccinated.

      • Craig,
        I agree completely that being young and healthy is the way to go, the data is indisputable in this point. The elderly and infirm have been the largest percentage of those affected by this disease since the beginning. If you are young and healthy there is very slim chance of dying from covid. However if you are not young and healthy that does not necessarily hold true. For those of us in between, well I’ve known enough young and healthy people who have lost their sense of smell and taste, who have suffered from debilitating fatigue, who can’t remember shit because they have covid brain, and I’ve known young grossly obese and diabetic people who laughed off covid.

        Being old and healthy is certainly better than being old and unhealthy, just like being young and healthy is certainly better than being young and unhealthy, I know which one I’d choose given my druthers. Some people will learn from this pandemic, most sadly will not. Being healthy involves doing work like exercise and eating right to stay fit, washing your hands, staying home while sick…time and time again people demonstrate an inability to do these basic things. How many people do you know who still properly wash their hands, or stay home when sick, let alone put forth an effort to eat right or exercise?

        I am in no way saying the vaccines are the end all be all, but they do offer a very real and very measurable degree of protection especially for those who are unable to undue the ravages of time. I struggle to explain those who are outright denying these facts.

      • DPR,
        I don’t love to argue, I love to be right. When I am proven wrong I accept it and move on, thus becoming right…technically speaking I am never wrong. Whereas I might have been wrong previously, by accepting that fact I am no longer wrong.

        Who loves to be wrong, besides you?

  2. And these are the people who censor for medical “misinformation” and tell us to follow the Covid “science”. Boy, I’d love to lay a few gut wrenching, bend over, laughing emojis right here: hahaha.

    A “pregnant man” emoji and “pregnant person” emoji are coming to Apple iPhones with its latest update, iOS 15.4 sparking controversy.

  3. Many countries around the world do not use the influenza vaccine the way we do here in the US, most in fact don’t. Influenza deaths in the US range between about 12,000 and 52,000 per year for the last decade in the US. In the UK where the influenza vaccine is restricted influenza deaths range between 10,000 and 30,000. The UK has about 20% of the population of the US, multiply the 10,000 to 30,000 number of deaths by 5 and you get 50,000 to 150,000 deaths per year…the influenza death rate in the UK is much higher than the rate in the US. They still use the influenza vaccine, but not as much as we do here. There are similar numbers across Europe, where influenza vaccination rates are much lower than in the US.

    It’s interesting that with covid we are seeing a death rate of 266/100,000 while in the aftermath of the Spanish Flu influenza death rates were 30-40/100,000 after having reached as high as 590/100,000 during the pandemic. If past is indeed prologue we have a decade or two of covid deaths that will be higher than what we’ve become accustomed to with influenza deaths over the last 30-40 years.

    As far as masks go, the N-95 should gave been the mask talked about in any mask conversation from day one. The cloth face coverings never offered protection, anyone who has ever had to wear an actual mask and paid attention to the reason why and protection offered by which specific mask chosen would have known that. I wore my N-95’s when I couldn’t control the situation or was in close contact with others, I will wear one when the situation arises still but I rarely need to. A mask is PPE, and PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment it is designed to protect the person wearing it and must be worn correctly.

    • But can and will you wear an oxygen restricting, Carbon Dioxide inducing N95 FOR 8-10hrs a day, every day?
      Steve, sorry I couldn’t respond to you on the other thread. Somehow I was restricted from posting.

      • Bryan,
        Is that a special kind of N-95? The typical N-95 doesn’t restrict Oxygen or induce carbon dioxide. I’ve worn P and N-100 for hours on end while working and they filter more particles than the N-95, I’ve worn N-95’s for hours on end while working. People do it everyday. The science behind how these masks work is pretty simple, we’ve been over it before, but basically an oxygen or carbon dioxide molecule passes effortlessly through an N-95 mask due to the size of the molecule and the filtering ability of the mask. As I previously said it’s like throwing a baseball through a 250 foot hole, how many baseballs do you think could fit through a 250 foot hole at a time? As long as you aren’t using them underwater an N-95’s does not restrict the flow of oxygen nor do they induce carbon dioxide.
        I have never been in a situation where I would have to wear a mask 8-10 hours a day, everyday uninterrupted.

      • Interesting thing Steve…Not joking..Was in the hospital and decided to do a little experiment. I had the oxygen meter on my finger and noticed without the mask my oxygen was 99-97. Put the mask over my nose and mouth and it dropped respectively to 96-94. So, around 3 points.
        That was a cheap cloth mask. Obviously just an observation. Maybe you are right and Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide just sail through. But, if that is the case what good is the mask at stopping the virus which is way smaller?

      • Masking with cloth masks to k-95 masks and declaring them effective against covid-19 is peddling science fiction. They become ineffective rapidly, they make the moisture particles smaller so tgey become airborne longer . Yes they slow oxygen uptake from out of mask to lungs . They recycle the nasties. They don’t effectively seal around the face and allow easy viral intake. They are inadequate even for large particles. Just a joke against viruses. Use the right tools or keep your distance from people. The claim of those cheap masks is science fiction and our infection rates are higher than ever . Steve o you should stop promoting science fiction. The only thing crappy masks like that are good for is making others feel better. Which I respect and recommend but don’t use them in place of keeping your distance. Sick people using masks still spread disease. Healthy people breathing air from sick people despite masks still catch covid. We played the mask game . It didn’t solve the problem. The facts say they helped very little and may have given people false confidence making the problem worse.

      • Bryan,
        An oxygen molecule has a diameter of about 0.299 nanometers, a carbon dioxide molecule has a diameter of about 0.33 nanometers, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is about 100 nanometers. That means the SARS-CoV-2 virus is about 300 times the size of an oxygen or carbon dioxide molecule, it’s not just a little bigger, it’s a lot bigger. Add to that, as has been well established the virus travels on water droplets.

      • Dang it steve 0 , i just dont understand how you cant look at bigger picture. Look up popular mechanics article. It specifically says k-95 masks restrict oxygen 5%-20% which they say is significant for healthy people and worse for cardio compromised people. It’s common sense. Not rocket science. Apparently a solution is being developed. When I work hard with a k-95 mask it puts major stress on my system and still end up sucking bad particles from environment into my airways lungs nose ect. Yes a person at rest or mild activity Will barely notice the difference regarding oxygen. A healthy person that is . We all got that but who wants their oxygen restricted ? Raise your hand . Especially from a marginally effective tool . Imo use efforts that are significantly effective. Not just for virtue signaling. ( im heavily against masks because its one more method of government control that doesn’t solve the problem as is prooved by our on going undampened pandemic that chaotically enjoying itself among naive humans)

      • Thank’s Steve, I stand corrected.

        “Various studies report different degrees of protection depending on how they were conducted and how data was collected, but a recent meta-analysis of multiple global studies found that masks are linked to a commanding 53% decrease in COVID-19 transmission when worn properly. An Arizona epidemiologist recently told me how N95 masks or surgical masks have proven to be especially effective. “Several studies have found that surgical masks are between 66% and 70% effective,” she said.”

      • and exactly how did they measure that, Bryan? link the study. i haven’t read this one, and some of them have been shit.

        did they put a bunch of people suffering from COVID-19 in an enclosed space for say 18 hours and measure the amount of SARS-CoV-2 in the air afterward?

      • Popular mechanics article claims k-95 masks restrict oxygen 20%~5%. Look it up.

    • Steve-O: You clearly didn’t read the story.

      Influenza death rates in the 1920s, the years that followed the Spanish flu pandemic, ranged from 100/100,000 to 150/100,000 per year – not 30-40/100,000 per year. They did not drop to the level you suggest until the 1940s. These are, of course, flu/pneumonia deaths but the CDC long considered the two so closely linked it historically tracked the data in this way.

      There has been debate about that – But it is what is and I’m not going to get into it here.

      What I am going to say, that if you don’t read the stories; I’m going to block your comments. I rarely do that, almost never in fact though there are plenty of people who write shit with which I strongly disagree personally. I have an extremely liberal view of what constitutes “fair comment.”

      Intentionally misrepresenting data does not fall within my view of “fair comment.”

      P.S. U.S. flu/pneumonia deaths average near 60,000 per year.

      The numbers are about 25,000 per year in the UK.

      Your math was good on the difference between the U.S. and UK populations. I commend you on that.

      How you correct this to compare the US and the UK is, however, about more than population numbers. It is also about demographics. UK residents are older, average life span 81.2, than US residents, average lifespan, 78.76; and the UK has a significantly greater number of people over age 75 – 27M for them, 20.6M for us when the numbers are adjusted for population differences. This is a huge confounder.

      As the CDC notes of influenza/pneumonia, “Death rates increased with age from 31.7 deaths per 100,000 population among adults aged 65–74 years, to 94.2 among adults aged 75–84 years, to 377.6 among those aged ≥85 years. Rates increased with age for both men and women, and in each age group the death rates were higher for men than for women.”

      As should be obvious there, having a lot of people 75 or older can really up the death rate and if there are a lot 85 or older it can make the death rate explode into Covid-like numbers.

      • Craig, I am speaking of N-95 masks. Several studies have shown cloth masks provide little protection. Possibly 20%. Not trying to “misinform”. I honestly don’t know because there are so any lies for and against that it is hard to believe anything these days. Especially from something made in China. WebMD had an article saying N-95 blocked Covid 90%.
        This was the link to my reference above. Again, I say personal choice.. Want to wear one go ahead, don’t, dont…

      • Bryan: I empathize. It’s a confusing situation. There is a fair it of bad science out there and way too much “modeling.”

        If the pandemic has taught me anything about modeling, it is this: If you spin data with enough right presumptions and do enough math, you can, by God, “prove” pigs can fly.

        And of their own volition. Not in the cargo hold of an airplane on the way to the slaughterhouse.

        All of the studies concluding masks do anything significant are based on modeling or “population” studies, most of which cherry-pick data and ignore confounders. The best study was done before the pandemic in hospitals and concluded medical professionals were largely kidding themselves by thinking masks did much to prevent infections.

        That said, there are some valid reasons to believe N95s provide some layer of personal protection, and I’ve recommended them to everyone I know who is vulnerable. I’ve also offered those people the added advice that the best protection they can get is 1.) to stay away from other people as much as possible; and 2.) limit their time in closed spaces used by other people as much as possible.

        1.) and 2.) are clearly more protective than masks.

        What N95s do to protect others, who knows. Whatever little that is, I’m pretty confident it could be wiped out in whole or in large part by how people handle the masks. I would note that at this time, a lot of staff from Providence Hospital – where people use PPT regularly and actually know how to use it professionally – are out sick.

        Israel, which did a superb job of containing SARS-CoV-2 in the first wave of the pandemic, was nicely masked and vaxxed when Omicron hit, and its infection numbers skyrocketed.

        humans have a really, really bad habit of thinking they can control nature when our abilities to do so remain rather limited. excuse my training in ecology and my long interest in evolution, but it seems increasingly to look like the pandemic is going to be governed more by natural selection than by anything we do.

        Omicron didn’t take over accidentally, though its first appearance was a biological accident. that’s what mutants are. it was a mutant. it was also a mutant that spread faster and didn’t kill as many of its hosts which made it much easier for it to spread faster. it’s now looking like it could be the new flu of the next generation, and i’m left wondering how under-reported the flu has been in this country through the length of my generation because of its lack of severity.

        i’ve several times had pretty good go-arounds with the flu, including one bought i thought might kill me. i’ve never reported a single flu infection to anyone. i’d guess most people haven’t. i’d expect that in those years when the flu killed tens of thousands of people, the numbers of flu infections were astronomical.

        but we didn’t have the data to show that and thus felt a lot safer. now we have the data and its scares the shit out of us, though not everyone acts like it.

        i say that because there’s one other thing i know. it would really help to reduce infections if people who knew they were sick stayed away from others until they got better. but that isn’t happening. i just read an article by someone who should know better and who shall remain nameless who recounted how he got sick with Omicron and how he decided it was safe to go out,even though he still wasn’t feeling well, because he was wearing a mask.

        this is magic-bullet thinking and magic bullets are not really. they are the stuff of myths.

      • Mr. Medred,
        I feel for you on the misrepresentation of data ! You put so much thankless effort into it and only get the abstract benefit of getting closer to the truth.
        Your site is a rare bird of sifting details to get closer to the truth. Rare . It is a site that allows expression regardless of how foolish. It is a site that is a breath of Liberty in a culture that is rapidly turning to authoritarianism or tyranny. Please give Steve o and all of us our chances to make mistakes. Learning is a strangely slow process. I understand the frustration of someone misrepresenting your hard work. Steve O often brings much to a conversation ( despite what I might say😉) please don’t consider banning him. If you must ban someone ban me . I provoked him into errors.

      • Craig,
        My apologies on the numbers there, and I can assure you that I read the story and reread multiple parts. I messed up while editing my comment as I had more written and then deleted sections of it because it was getting to be too many numbers. You are correct that the death rate was much higher than 30-40/100,000 in the decade after the Spanish Flu whereas that 30-40/100,000 number represents during the initial roll out of the influenza vaccine…which was part of my comment that I deleted. The part that real messed me up was where does the 0.56/100,000 come from? When I deleted the parts of my comment I was trying to reconcile all that and the only thing I can figure is that is specifically those deaths that are known and verified to be caused specifically by the flu, which as you’ve pointed out isn’t how these numbers are recorded for better or worse. So I ended up cutting out a large part of that paragraph. I didn’t mean to mislead anyone and will try and make a more concerted effort not to cut out pertinent information next time.

        Everywhere I’ve read the number is still around 10-15/100,000, even the nchstat site you just posted says it’s 15-22/100,000. The CDC and numerous other sources say 12,000-52,000 deaths per year from influenza, depending upon the year is it any wonder why there’s so much confusion?

        It’s your site and if you chose to ban me for whatever reason I can’t fault you for that, but it was a simply editing mistake on my part. Once again my apologies.

      • Steve-O: I don’t want to ban anybody. I want discussions at least generally based on fact.

        I also sympathize with any confusion anyone has. A lot of the historical data isn’t presented well. A lot of the data isn’t complete. Some of the science isn’t science at all but modeling. The whole damn picture can be confusing as hell.

      • So true . Especially last paragraph. Variables make data so problematic! A person really has to think objectively without assuming a conclusion. Then doubt their own conclusion for fear of not recognizing a major confounder ! If people gave more credit to confounders our society could be more peaceful! You bring up Great points Craig!

      • One of the things I always found ‘funny’ about the CDC guidelines for close contacts was that cloth face coverings/masks were never used as a way to guarantee people didn’t get covid. If you were wearing a cloth face covering/mask and had a close contact with someone that had covid the guidelines didn’t differentiate between someone wearing a cloth face covering/mask and someone not wearing a cloth face covering/mask. That should have raised alarm bells to people right there that cloth face coverings/masks were not the be all end all that some had made them out to be.

        Our former governor was spotted out and about in New York City a couple days after having tested positive for Covid and having had her trial postponed because of her positive test, there’s yet another person who certainly should have known better.

      • Craig, ran across this from Is Israel. Interesting read on mask technology. I also went and looked at my mask box and on the side it said “NOT FOR MEDICAL USE”. I did see where Israel claims a 90% vaccination rate with skyrocketing infections.
        I can’t help but wonder are we dealing with mutations or is China releasing different viruses due to the greed and weakness in Washington? Is “Delta” a mutation of the “A” strain like they claimed it was? I don’t think so. Is Omicron a mutation of the “A” strain? I believe it holds different characteristics. We know it isn’t a mutation of the “Delta” strain because you can technically get both Delta and Omicron at the same time and some have. After personally returning from hell I believe these viruses (as I have said here for the last 2yrs) are being purposely released. China is making billions and China is saving billions by weeding out the sick and old. Washington grows rich from Big Pharma and Chinese money. Some in Washington would also like to see the population shrink to “save” the planet. In other words this is an orchestrated bioweapon as scary as that is. Damn scary I say. Follow the money falling out of the Washington elites pockets.

      • Bryan,

        Just out of curiosity, where are you seeing Israel has a 90% vaccination rate? Everywhere I look, including the Israeli Health Ministry, it says it’s around 74% for at least a single dose and 65-67% for fully vaccinated.

      • Bryan,
        I wonder if that 90% number is when it was reported that 90% of the eligible adult population was vaccinated. 1/3 of the Israeli population is under age 18. Palestinians make up about 20% of the population in Israel and as a group they are lagging in vaccination rates.

        This site shows the vaccinations rates in Israel

      • Steve-O, that was kind of my point in all this. I see a 90% and you see a 57 or 70%. One cannot believe anything related to Covid.. There is too much money involved, too much corruption, and too much power and control to be gained over the subjects. There is false narratives to push. The line between dirty, lying cheats and the good guys is blurred. I don’t trust any of them. Especially when they/we know the origins of Covid-19 and are paid by the Chinese to lie about it and they do. Our own government has 2 options, fill their own greedy pockets with Chinese money or go to war with China. Considering China owns and supplies everything to us including masks and Covid tests war is clearly off the table. These same liars are saying we need to secure Ukraines border but ignore our own invasion.

  4. “By April 2020 America should have achieved Herd Immunity.”
    – John Hopkins

    Great article Craig. Very informative. Nice to see someone not influenced by big pharma.

  5. Add the year the flu vaccine was invented to the chart above. End? We are still in our last great viral pandemic.

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