Are Masks Necessary, Safe and Effective? Part 2

In Part One of this study, I addressed some scientific statements, historical patterns and prior assumptions when approaching this topic. In this part I want to focus more on the three main issues: Are masks necessary, safe and effective? I will be breaking this question down into three parts and addressing each criteria separately. As per my previous post, this is not an attack on people who choose to wear masks. That is their choice but I do believe that it should be an informed choice. They should be aware of the risks to themselves. It is against mask mandates where people are being persecuted for not conforming by not wearing masks. In my opinion, mask mandates should satisfy all three criteria. It has to be proved as necessary, safe and effective. However, my belief is that it scores zero out of three. The purpose of this section is to explain my reasoning.

The mandates are based upon the beliefs that Covid 19 is going to kill a large number of people who get it, that masks will prevent it and that we must guard against it at all costs. Such panic, fear and hysteria fails to consider the safety aspects. This has been true of most Covid 19 prevention measures. For example, isolation can kill people too and calls to suicide hotlines have increased massively during the pandemic. Putting people out of work due to lockdowns can drive people to poverty and starvation and yet most lockdown advocates I know failed to even consider these facts. There are situations where we have to choose the lesser of two evils but we have to be reasonable and objective. If we think we are choosing the lesser of two evils when we are actually doing the opposite, the results could be fatal. If masks pose a greater, adverse health impact than Covid 19 then we should be aware of those risks.

Are Masks Effective Against Covid?

Microns and Particles

We have already reviewed the history of masks against infections generally but in this section we are going to apply it specifically against Covid 19. One of the most basic considerations about masks is whether they are designed effectively to protect against a virus (and specifically against Covid 19). Medical Professor Viroj Wiwanitkit informs us that it does not:

Since the coronavirus is an extremely small virus, it can pass through the pores of both the surgical mask and N95 respirator. Hence, considering the nanostructure of the protective apparatuses, there should not be any difference in their protective activity. In addition, contamination of the respiratory protective apparatus after use is another issue that needs to be addressed. Although the apparatus has a good structure that can prevent the passage of pathogen, if it is contaminated and reused, it will become the source of infection instead.

Singapore Medical Journal. Source

So both the N95 and surgical masks are useless. In addition, he notes that the mask could become a source of infection. This is something we will return to later on. Dr. Michael Herbert, an Internist and Hospitalist in Jackson, Mississippi concurs:

The problem with masking is this: Regular masks do not help all that much. The Coronavirus is about 0.1 micron wide. An N95 medical grade mask can only filter down to about 0.3 microns. So if a medical grade mask is not perfect, a regular fabric face mask is a bit like using chicken wire to keep mosquitoes out of your screened porch. In other words, a waste of time.

But it isn’t quite as simple as that. Although COVID is very small and can travel through the air, the vast majority of viral particles adhere to small droplets that people cough or sneeze out — and these droplets are larger than 3 microns. That’s why N95 masks generally work, especially if the wearer is standing a few feet away.

Doctor Herberts Medical Gumbo, To Mask or Not to Mask

I have no problem with the first paragraph here. The second paragraph begs a few questions. Dr. Herbert in his article argues that if you are standing near someone with Coronavirus and they sneeze or cough towards you, it will capture the larger droplets and they will crash into the mask. He argues that it offers some limited protection against coughs and sneezes. My counter argument is that you should not be in this situation in the first place. You should not be in close contact with a symptomatic person and the symptomatic person should be isolating at home.

A Valid Use of Masks: In Part One we saw how masks were deemed ineffective even in surgical settings. But let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that they were. A surgeon who is ill with a cold, flu or Covid should be operating in the first place. If they cough or sneeze randomly, large droplets are caught in the mask and this (apparently) protects the patient. As noted before, this is a special surgical mask and not a cloth mask. In addition, the dentist should dispose and change that mask as soon as it is practical to do so. Without doubt, they should not be wearing the same mask when they see their next patient. They will also have been given official instruction on this (which the public have not). If they do not change their masks, they will jeopardise their own health as it will become a source of infection.

Coughs and Sneezes

Allergies: Asymptomatic people may occasionally and randomly sneeze due to allergies or other pollutants in the air. They may not have sneezed or coughed for days and had no symptoms of Covid. If they are wearing a mask, they will either have to remove it quickly (and blow into a tissue with the other hand) or they will sneeze into the mask. If the former, they risk not handling it properly and dirtying the mask with their hands. If the latter, they will dirty the mask anyway. In either case, they will need to change the mask immediately. If they don’t, the wearer will be breathing in whatever dirt is on the mask and this could cause health problems.

Do Masks Protect from Asymptomatic People? The above paragraph deals with the consequences for the one wearing the mask but what about the other people nearby? If an asymptomatic person suddenly and randomly sneezed due an allergy then they will not spread Covid. I had a friend who had an allergy to dogs and he was fine until he met our family dog and started sneezing. I did not fear for a moment that he was going to give me the flu. When such a situation occurs they should follow the traditional advice: blow into a tissue away from others and throw it away.

Sneezing due to Covid: If someone is coughing and sneezing because they have Covid then they should not be at a public venue. Therefore the mask is unnecessary. Masks may potentially protect the other person from the larger droplets (from coughs or sneezes) but the smaller droplets (speaking and breathing) will still get through the mask. So unless the infected person stops talking and breathing, the mask will be useless. It will also not protect the person sneezing and coughing into the mask. They will be breathing the droplets back in and risk re-infection. This is acknowledged by nurse Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo who in turn cites an official source:

Dr. Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, has warned that it was not a good idea for the public to wear facemasks as the virus can get trapped in the material and causes infection when the wearer breathes in.

News Medical, 15th March 2020

A common sense approach concurs with this. When you sneeze into a tissue, the official advice was to throw it away and rightly so. We should not hold the tissue next to our noses and mouth for another few hours (as done by many mask wearers). This advice was contradicted by the US National Library of Medicine:

One danger of doing this [wearing a mask] is the illusion of protection. Surgical facemasks are designed to be discarded after single use. As they become moist they become porous and no longer protect.  Indeed, experiments have shown that surgical and cotton masks do not trap the SARS‐CoV‐2 (COVID‐19) virus, which can be detected on the outer surface of the masks for up to 7 days. 7 , 8 Thus, a pre‐symptomatic or mildly infected person wearing a facemask for hours without changing it and without washing hands every time they touched the mask could paradoxically increase the risk of infecting others.

NIH, 16th June 2020

Both Jenny Harries and the NIH have scientific credentials but I can make logical conclusions from their statements. If masks do trap the virus then they were not effective for the wearer as it will risk infection. If they don’t trap the virus then they are ineffective to others around them. The case for mask mandates is doomed either way. The aforementioned Dr. Herbert concurs with Harries even though he advocates masks for reduced transmission. He says “Reusing dirty masks is about as healthy as reusing dirty underwear. No, I take that back — reusing dirty underwear is much safer.” This leads us to the next section.

Are Masks Necessary?

Does Asymptomatic Spread Exist?

The belief that everyone should wear a mask is based upon belief in asymptomatic spread. Many studies I have read also make this assumption but is there a case for asymptomatic spread? The University of East Anglia did a study on the mass screening of 10 million Wuhan residents and found 300 asymptomatic cases. They advised:

“The study found no ‘viable’ virus in the asymptomatic cases and the close contacts of these positive asymptomatic cases did not test positive.”

But the research team warn that their findings do not show that the virus can’t be passed on by asymptomatic carriers.

University of East Anglia, 30th November 2020

The British Medical Journal also reported on this study:

A mass screening programme of more than 10 million residents of Wuhan, China, performed after SARS-CoV-2 was brought under control, has identified 300 asymptomatic cases of covid-19, none of which was infectious.

The researchers said that their findings did not show that the virus couldn’t be passed on by asymptomatic carriers, and they didn’t suggest that their findings were generalisable.

BMJ 2020;371:m4695

300 asymptomatic cases out of 10 million is a very tiny faction. Deeper analysis on those 300 failed to show any evidence of asymptomatic transmission. The last sentence is, in my view, fair enough. A study showing a lack of evidence simply shows a negative lack of evidence. It does not provide positive proof that asymptomatic spread is impossible. It does, however, show that asymptomatic spread has not been proved. This puts the burden of proof upon them and not upon me. If someone wants me to wear a mask, they must prove that asymptomatic spread exists. It is unfair and unreasonable to assume that it exists and then demand that I disprove it. In addition if any lockdown/mask/vaccine advocate cites any study alleging to show asymptomatic spread, that study must be examined and subject to the same critical analysis as the Wuhan study or any other.

Other media outlets reported on this study. Nature Briefing gave us some further details involved in the methodology involved:

All city residents aged six years or older were eligible and 9,899,828 (92.9%) participated. No new symptomatic cases and 300 asymptomatic cases (detection rate 0.303/10,000, 95% CI 0.270–0.339/10,000) were identified. There were no positive tests amongst 1,174 close contacts of asymptomatic cases. 

Nature Briefing, November 20th 2020

Mike Yeadon, former chief scientist at Pfizer, explains why asymptomatic transmission does not happen and many others concur. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit concurs and says that asymptomatic transmission is rare. She did, however, regret this admission and wanted to leave the possibility as “a big, open question” in order to maintain WHO mask and lockdown policies. But a big, open question is not proof. It is special pleading and shows a determination to stick to a belief or an agenda.

Conclusion: If asymptomatic people are unlikely to transmit the virus then they should not need to wear a mask. If someone has symptoms then they should not be out in public so they should not need to wear a mask either. In either case, a mask is not necessary.

What is the Mortality Rate for Covid?

Covid 19 is a horrible experience for many who have caught it. My own experience of this was very painful and it knocked me out of action for several days. I do not take Covid lightly and I have sympathy for people who have suffered this illness. But we also need to maintain perspective and look at the available data. The British Medical Journal cites sources informing us that

The overall death rate from covid-19 has been estimated at 0.66%, rising sharply to 7.8% in people aged over 80 and declining to 0.0016% in children aged 9 and under.

British Medical Journal, 1st April 2020

Covid can be fatal to the elderly and those with underlying with health conditions and these cases need to be managed individually. This is also the case with the seasonal influenza but (as already noted) we do not wear masks to protect against that. Children, teenagers and adults will recover from the virus and will develop natural immunity as a result. In a government briefing on the 11th May 2020, our Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty assured us:

A significant proportion of people will not get this virus at all, at any point in the epidemic, which is going to go on for a long period of time. Of those who do, some of them will get the virus without even knowing it. They will have the virus with no symptoms at all, asymptomatic carriage. And we know that happens. Of those that get symptoms, the great majority, probably 80% will have a mild or moderate disease, might be bad enough for them to have to go to bed for a few days, not bad enough for them to have to go to the doctor. An unfortunate minority, will have to go as far as hospital, but the majority of those will just need oxygen and will then leave hospital. And then a minority of those will end up having to go to severe and critical care and some of those sadly will die. But that’s a minority. It’s 1% or possibly even less than 1% overall. And even in the highest risk group, this is significantly less than 20%. The great majority of people, even the very highest groups, if they catch this virus will not die.

Chris Whitty, UK Government Briefing May 11th 2020. Transcript Source.

The official UK government website says pretty much the same thing:

As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK. There are many diseases which can cause serious illness which are not classified as HCIDs.

Now that more is known about COVID-19, the public health bodies in the UK have reviewed the most up to date information about COVID-19 against the UK HCID criteria. They have determined that several features have now changed; in particular, more information is available about mortality rates (low overall), and there is now greater clinical awareness and a specific and sensitive laboratory test, the availability of which continues to increase.

UK Government, High Consequence Infectious Disease

They define (among other criteria) that a HCID “requires an enhanced individual, population and system response to ensure it is managed effectively, efficiently and safely.” In December 2021 the Office of National Statistics, in response to a freedom of information request, advised that was less than 15,000 Covid deaths in the UK (excluding those with underlying conditions). From a population of 66 million, this is less than 1%. Why do we need to wear masks for “a mild or moderate disease” with a low mortality rate?

Are Masks Safe?

Many medical doctors and scientists like Dr. Mike Yeadon, Dr. Vernon Coleman, Dr. Russell Blaylock and Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai have spoken at length about the dangers of masks. We have already noted Dr. Jenny Harries who advised that masks can actually increase the risk of Covid but can it cause other medical problems? Many specialists from other medical disciplines believe so.

General Practitioners

Retired GP Vernon Coleman, in his book Proof That Face Masks Do More Harm Than Good, has listed many dangers of mask wearing. Here are some select snippets from that book:

People who cough and sneeze into their mask increase the risk of a build-up of fungi and bacteria – which can lead to dangerous chest infections.

Women giving birth in France have to wear face masks. In my opinion, this is dangerous and will put extra strain on the heart. Pregnant women should not wear a mask, not only because of the risk to themselves but because of the risk to their unborn child. There is a real risk that the baby will be stillborn or in some way damaged or poorly developed at birth.

A 26-year-old man suffered a collapsed lung after running 2.5 miles while wearing a face mask. Doctors say his condition was caused by the high pressure on the man’s lung due to his intense breathing while wearing the face mask. When masks are made mandatory outdoors in the UK, joggers and cyclists will have no choice but to wear masks. Many will die.

There is no doubt that face masks can be dangerous. In China, two school boys who were wearing face masks while running on a track both collapsed and died – possibly, I would surmise, because the strain on their hearts by the shortage of oxygen proved fatal. According to the German doctor, Dr Bodo Schiffmann, at least three other children may have died in Germany due to mask wearing.

Vernon Coleman’s online book is worth reading in full and is available freely on his website.

Neurologists

Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson MD, PhD is a Consultant Neurologist and Neurophysiologist with a PhD in Pharmacology. She concurs with the aforementioned Dr. Vernon Coleman:

“The reinhalation of our exhaled air will without a doubt create oxygen deficiency and a flooding of carbon dioxide. We know that the human brain is very sensitive to oxygen deprivation. There are nerve cells for example in the hippocampus that can’t be longer than 3 minutes without oxygen – they cannot survive.

The acute warning symptoms are headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, issues in concentration, slowing down of reaction time – reactions of the cognitive system.

Original Source here.
Dentists

Dentists are sounding the alarm about “mask mouth”, gum disease, cavities and this will lead to even more serious medical problems. According to the Washington Examiner:

“Gum disease — or periodontal disease — will eventually lead to strokes and an increased risk of heart attacks,” Marc Sclafani, a dentist and co-founder of One Manhattan Dental, told the New York Post about “mask mouth,” which is increasingly causing inflammation and gum disease among patients.

Washington Examiner, August 7th 2020.

The toothpaste manufacturer Colgate, Dental Direct, The Canadian Dental Assocation and many others have also warned about “mask mouth” on their website. Montry S. Suprono, DDS, MSD (Director of Loma Linda University Centre for Dental Research) advises that mask mouth could result in swollen gums, fungal infections, bad breath, cracked lips, acne and gum disease.

Speech therapists and Child Development

According to LifeSite News, Speech therapists are expressing concern over child development.

Jaclyn Theek, a clinic director and speech-language pathologist at the Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach told ABC news affiliate WPBF that she saw a whopping 364 percent increase in the number of referrals for children suffering from speech delays in 2021, suggesting mask-wearing may be causing unprecedented damage to healthy childhood development.

LifeSite News, January 17th 2022

The pathologist also reported symptoms that looked like autism and that the children were not communicating with their family. Masks are doing a lot of damage to the emotional and psychological development of young children.

LifeSite News also reported on a study in Germany on the effects of masks upon children. The symptoms included irritability, headache, inability to concentrate, drowsiness, impaired learning, dizziness, shortness of breath, ADHD and anxiety.

Psychologists and Mental Health Considerations

Whilst some people report feeling more comfortable around those around wear masks, there are trends going in the opposite direction. The UK based mental health charity Mind gives a few examples and these two stand out to me:

Seeing people with covered faces might make you feel uneasy or scared of others. They might seem threatening, sinister or dehumanised.

Masks are a visual reminder of the virus, so seeing masks might make you feel on edge or unable to relax. It might seem like danger is everywhere, especially if coronavirus is also in the news.

Mind. Mask Anxiety, Face Coverings and Mental Health.

In other words, masks keep the individual and the population in a state of fear. I believe that the emotional and psychological impact of masks has been the biggest factor in resistance and non-compliance. People may be unaware of the dental and neurological impact of masks but psychological impact is more obvious.

Conclusion

I have often said that Covid 19 should be treated just like the common cold or seasonal flu (which also claims many lives yearly). Having surveyed the lack of necessity, the lack of efficacy and the lack of safety I still believe that. People who insist on mask mandates are basing it upon two faulty assumptions – that Covid will kill them and that masks will protect them. In addition, they overlook the safety aspects. I find no basis for mask mandates.

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