Masks don’t prevent the spread of viruses
In 2003 you could have been fined $110,000 in Australia for “exaggerating the health benefits of surgical masks” along with a warning from NSW Fair Trading Minister Reba Meagher “that it is un-Australian to profiteer from people’s fears and anxieties,”
Indeed, back in the spring of 2020, government advisors around the world all agreed that masks weren’t necessary and were, indeed, nothing more than virtue signaling. And then, without good reason, they suddenly changed their minds and face mask has become a symbol of compliance of this New Normal as well as the visual sign of crisis.
Masks don’t work
At least a dozen scientific studies have shown that masks are effective in preventing any transmission in the general population, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.
One meta-analysis published by the CDC in May 2020 found “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks”.
Indeed the CDC found that 85 percent of those who contracted Covid-19 during July 2020 were mask wearers. Just 3.9 percent of the study participants never wore a mask.
Another study with over 8000 subjects found masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection.”
(Lack of) Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers (otherwise known as the DANMASK study) was published in Nov 2020 in the renowned journal Annals of Internal Medicine. It concluded that there was no statistically significant benefit of wearing a mask.
There are literally too many studies to quote them all, but you can find the following summaries:
Dr Denis Rancourt, published a well researched review and summary of the literature stating “There have been extensive randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies, and meta-analysis reviews of RCT studies, which all show that masks and respirators do not work to prevent respiratory influenza-like illnesses, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles.”
A review of 48 studies published between 1981 and 2020 by Doctors for Enlightenment concludes “The data situation does not speak in favor of wearing mouth and nose covers… This is particularly true with regard to children!”
SPR, also provide overview of the current evidence regarding the effectiveness of face masks and conclude “So far, most studies found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in the general population, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.”
Studies claiming mask effectivness
While some studies have been done claiming to show mask do work for Covid, they are all seriously flawed. One relied on self-reported surveys as data. Another was so badly designed a panel of experts demand it be withdrawn. A third was withdrawn after its predictions proved entirely incorrect.
The WHO commissioned their own meta-analysis in the Lancet, but that study looked only at N95 masks and only in hospitals. [For full run down on the bad data in this study click here.]
Aside from scientific evidence, there’s plenty of real-world evidence that masks do nothing to halt the spread of disease.
For example, North Dakota and South Dakota had near-identical case figures, despite one having a mask-mandate and the other not:
In Kansas, counties without mask mandates actually had fewer Covid “cases” than counties with mask mandates. And despite masks being very common in Japan, they had their worst flu outbreak in decades in 2019.
The public health order to wear a mask comes from the concept that the pathogen is transmitted through the air, and efforts to prevent us from sharing the same air could be made to control the contagion. However, even WHO has stated that “there is insufficient evidence“ that the so-called SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted through the air.
If you do go along with the concept of there being a super lethal airbourne virus, a cloth mask simply can not hold the virons. This is because of the size of the particles is compared to the size of the pores in a cotton mask. As illustrated below.
Masks are bad for your health
Kisielinski et al. wrote a review paper about the efficacy and potential side effects of wearing masks. The authors concluded that wearing masks poses severe health risks while not reducing transmission significantly “extended mask-wearing by the general population could lead to relevant effects and consequences in many medical fields.”
Theoretically, the mask-induced effects of the drop in blood gas oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide extend to the cellular level with induction of the transcription factor HIF (hypoxia-induced factor) and increased inflammatory and cancer-promoting effects  and can, thus, also have a negative influence on pre-existing clinical pictures.”
“We not only found evidence in the reviewed mask literature of potential long-term effects, but also evidence of an increase in direct short-term effects with increased mask-wearing time in terms of cumulative effects for: carbon dioxide retention, drowsiness, headache, feeling of exhaustion, skin irritation (redness, itching) and microbiological contamination (germ colonization).
There are numerous other studies demostrating the negative effect of mask wearing
A long study on the detrimental effects of mask-wearing was published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Dr. James Meehan reported in August 2020 he was seeing increases in bacterial pneumonia, fungal infections, facial rashes .
Masks are also known to contain plastic microfibers, which damage the lungs when inhaled and may be potentially carcinogenic.
Childen wearing masks encourages mouth-breathing, which results in facial deformities.
In the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak, gauze masks were used and recommended, but not mandatory, and there was great debate about whether they were effective.
A study from 1919 by Wilfried Kellogg confirmed potential adverse effects of wearing masks about the efficacy of mask-wearing stating that “many instances were observed among hospital attendants where apparently the mask was no protection to the wearers” (https://bit.ly/3I240ds). It was further considered that the mask may have “an unhygienic influence when extended to the entire working day of the individual”.
Masks in practice
Considering all of the above does it make any rational sense to continue mask-wearing? Either in public or in your clinic.
You may feel mask-wearing reassures clients who are scared. But what we know now is you could be putting yourself and them at harm. Instead, should we be asking how to break the cycle of fear and provide the reassurance and education clients and communities need to breathe with confidence? After all, breaking down fear is integral to restoring fulfilling living is a critical part of what we do.