The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Masking Up

When people become gripped by fear, uncertainty and doubt (driven by media hype, dishonest reporting and lack of context), they can and often do give in to mass hysteria. And when they get to that place, they grasp at any "solution" to their perceived problem, no matter how questionable, ineffective, and intrusive. 

As they grasp at the "solution," they'll intone "science" as their justification, insisting that anyone who questions their weak or non-existent interpretation of "science" is putting people "at risk" and is a danger to society.

Enter masks and mask mandates.

The conventional wisdom of 2020 is that masks are a key element in "slowing the spread" of COVID-19. In fact, masking up has now become an article of faith, mandated in many states. Should Joe Biden ascend to the presidency as expected, it's likely we'll have a national mandate.*

Masks have also become a sign of "wokeness." If you wear a mask, it's a not-so-subtle signal that you care, that you're a member of a select, morally superior group that truly understands the danger of COVID-19 and wants desperately to protect society from it. In many locales, a person can and will be criticized if they're not wearing a mask (even outside) with the clear implication they're an uncaring person.

There's only one problem—masks do little if anything to "stop the spread."

Over the past few months the results of a major scientific study (in Denmark) on the efficacy of masks in combating the spread of COVID-19 have, in effect, been suppressed in the scientific literature. Yes, political correctness has begun to pervade scientific journals. Finally, those results are coming out. Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson summarize the findings:

... The ‘Danmask-19 trial’ was conducted in the spring with over 3,000 participants, when the public were not being told to wear masks but other public health measures were in place. Unlike other studies looking at masks, the Danmask study was a randomized controlled trial — making it the highest quality scientific evidence.

Around half of those in the trial received 50 disposable surgical face masks, which they were told to change after eight hours of use. After one month, the trial participants were tested using both PCR, antibody and lateral flow tests and compared with the trial participants who did not wear a mask.

In the end, there was no statistically significant difference between those who wore masks and those who did not when it came to being infected by COVID-19. [Emphasis mine] Of those wearing masks, 1.8 percent caught COVID, compared to 2.1 percent of the control group. As a result, it seems that any effect masks have on preventing the spread of the disease in the community is small.

Some people, of course, did not wear their masks properly. Only 46 percent of those wearing masks in the trial said they had completely adhered to the rules. But even if you only look at people who wore masks ‘exactly as instructed’, this did not make any difference to the results: 2 percent of this group were also infected.

When it comes to masks, it appears there is still little good evidence they prevent the spread of airborne diseases. The results of the Danmask-19 trial mirror other reviews into influenza-like illnesses. Nine other trials looking at the efficacy of masks (two looking at healthcare workers and seven at community transmission) have found that masks make little or no difference to whether you get influenza or not. [Emphasis mine]

Hmmm. But Joe Biden and his cadre of woke supporters tell us that masks make all the difference, that they'll stop the spread, that "science" supports their position—except it doesn't ... not even a little.


*  At the same time Joe Biden advocates a mandatory mask mandate (because he's following science that doesn't exist) he's also advocating a much less stringent border policy with Mexico. Consider for a moment that Mexico currently has the highest COVID-19 mortality rate in the world at 9.8 percent. Is it wise to encourage illegal border crossings over the six month or year? Is it just possible that a non-trivial percentage of those making the crossing might have the virus and transmit it to others inside the USA? Oh ... never mind. The wokeness of open borders will trump the wokeness of masks every time.