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We’re pleased to publish the first part of another significant article from Left Lockdown Sceptics correspondent Phil Shannon, who writes from Australia. You can read Phil’s other contributions here, such as his ‘Have you had your jab yet?’ which has been read over 4,000 times. This post was also published by Phil on his Medium blog.
School teachers of a certain chronological, and political, vintage, like myself, were quite taken in the 1970s by the theory of two US Marxist sociology academics, Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis, that schooling was primarily about teaching obedience to authority – what they called the ‘hidden curriculum’ – which was essential to preparing the student to graduate from obeying Sir to obeying their future employer and the capitalist state. Only coincidentally was schooling about teaching literacy, numeracy and critical thinking skills and I must say that my early career experience as a high school English and Maths teacher convincingly confirmed the Bowles and Gintis hypothesis that the pedagogical sub-text of obedience to authority was the key lesson being taught.
As with the hidden curriculum of teaching, so, too, is there a hidden agenda behind the weird fetish for the face-mask in the Covid/lockdown era. Ostensibly to contain the spread of a killer virus, the real purpose of wearing a face-mask is to signify obedience to medico-political authority. Do as you are told – stay home, keep six feet apart, wear a face-rag, get a jab – it’s all about acquiescing, like some feudal serf, to the power and ‘majesty’ of the political and public health technocratic elite. And, above all, not questioning that elite’s disastrous, unscientific decision to push the big lockdown self-destruct button in response to a quite run-of-the-mill virus which has a flu-like mortality profile for the already highly vulnerable but which is experienced as a mild-moderate cold, if at all, to everyone else.
As the most publicly ostentatious symbol of the Covid era power relationship between the politically-approved public health ‘expert’ caste and the unquestioning citizen, the mask is the most visible emblem of individual and mass compliance with the hegemonic, fear-based Covid/lockdown agenda and the power of those behind it.
Masks don’t work!
Face-masks don’t work. This used to be the scientific consensus – before the Covid-deranged ‘experts’ dived off the deep-end into the mass delusional psychosis that erupted with the corona panic in early 2020. The few studies that had previously found some benefit of masks in controlling the spread of a virus had been either rickety computer models, crude observational studies with no control group or narrow mechanistic laboratory simulations bearing no relation to real world mask use, whilst, for each one of these studies which found that masks ‘work’ against viruses, there were dozens that found no such thing.
Concerning the influenza virus, a comprehensive meta-analysis of fourteen Randomised Control Trials [RCT] (the real-world, gold-standard for experimental studies) of face-mask efficacy in community settings, conducted by researchers from the University of Hong Kong in May 2020, found that eleven of these fourteen showed no effect at all of the mask in reducing flu incidence whilst the three studies that did find something yielded results that were not statistically significant. Other studies and reviews (such as by researchers from the University of Illinois, for example) have found no support for the efficacy of either cloth or surgical masks against viruses.
The bare cupboard of empirical support for the mask led responsible health institutions, before the corona madness had fully set in, to give short shrift to their efficacy. A New England Journal of Medicine editorial, for example, concluded that, for unmasked people in the community, “the chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is minimal” because “significant exposure to Covid-19” only occurs with “face-to-face contact within six feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 20 minutes)”. The motive for masking-up against Covid, they said, has nothing to do with actual public health outcomes but is merely psychological, “a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic” – the mask is pure placebo, in other words.
The Centres for Disease Control (CDC), the US government agency responsible for monitoring and managing Covid and which is now fully aligned with the political agenda of statistically inflating the Covid Menace (and neutering the harms of the Covid ‘vaccines’), had, in its more politically neutral days, no illusions about masks, concluding that, in the case of the influenza virus, “masks in everyday life have no or very little effect on mitigating the annual flu epidemic”. The mask, therefore, can not save anyone from infection with the flu, or other respiratory virus, or stop them from spreading it. In July 2020, even at the height of mask mania, the CDC retained some vestige of integrity by reporting that 85% of people who developed symptoms of Covid ‘always’ (71%) or ‘often’ (14%) had worn a cloth mask in the fourteen days preceding their illness.
Before they got their new riding orders, old-school public health bureaucrats had brushed aside the useless mask. In Australia, the federal Department of Health’s Infection Control Expert Group still, now, after all the Covid hysteria and manically askew policy response, says that evidence for the efficacy of cloth masks is “limited, indirect, experimental”, thus “the general use of masks in the community is not recommended”. In February, 2020, the-then-US-Surgeon-General, Jerome Adams, tweeted, with evident frustration, “Seriously people—STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching Coronavirus” (Adams has, of course, since deleted this embarrassing deviation from current mask orthodoxy, apparently unaware that the Internet never forgets).
Even the US Covid Svengali, Anthony Fauci, the attention-seeking director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and saboteur-in-Chief of the lockdown-wary then-President Donald Trump, had said, in the very early days of the developing corona lunacy, that masks were useless comfort-blankets: “there is no reason to be walking around with a mask”, he said in February 2020 – they “might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is”.
Other correct-line Covid ‘experts’, like the University of Minnesota’s Professor Michael Osterholm, when advisor to then-President-elect Biden, have also committed mask heresy (on today’s terms), the celebrity expert saying “we know today that many of the face-cloth coverings that people wear are not very effective in reducing any of the virus movement in or out”. This, too, has been Memory-Holed but what was said was said.
The UK’s health authorities were on the same page back in February 2020: even for staff providing residential health and aged care, “during normal day-to-day activities, facemasks do not provide protection from respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19 and do not need to be worn by staff”. Their official guidance for retail establishments in July 2020, even at a time when the government was mandating masks for indoor use, was that “it is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face-covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small”. A study of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory virus mitigation measures in primary schools in the UK over three months at the end of 2020 found that face-mask use by teachers “was not associated with lower odds of school COVID-19 cases” (indeed, wearing a face-mask correlated positively with “higher self-reported cold symptoms”).
The largest RCT, specifically concerning SARS-CoV-2 incidence (amongst other respiratory viral diseases), conducted in Denmark, compared outcomes between three thousand mask-using adults and three thousand mask-free adults, with each group going about their daily lives for thirty days, and confirmed that even the better quality surgical-type masks (which were the mask type trialled in the study) are rubbish, with 53 of the bare-faced (2.1%) contracting Covid (as measured by PCR test and clinically confirmed by antibody testing and hospital diagnosis where applicable) compared to 42 (1.8%) of the maskers, a soupçon of difference of just eleven fewer ‘cases’ out of 3,000 subjects. In the best statistical light for the pro-maskers, the (misleading) Relative Risk Reduction between the masked and the unmasked was a deeply unimpressive 21% and the (far more meaningful) Absolute Risk Reduction was a miniscule, and statistically insignificant, 0.4% (or sweet FA, in plain English). Scrupulous use of the mask didn’t make an iota of difference, either – of those who reported always wearing their face-mask ‘exactly as instructed’ (such as ‘if you touch it, change it’ or ‘if it becomes moist, change it’), 2% got Covid compared to 2.1% who never wore a mask. For mask zealots, these results are nothing to pop the champagne cork for.
To rub salt into the statistical wound, the Denmark study also looked at eleven other respiratory viruses (including the common cold) and struggled to find a Tally-Ho’s worth of difference for any of these, with 0.5% of the masked testing positive for other respiratory viruses compared to 0.6% of the unmasked (control) group.
If these results remind us of any other Covid intervention studies, it is with the (unblinded and now prematurely ended) clinical trials of the experimental and fast-tracked Covid ‘vaccines’ where the vaxx was found to reduce your chance of getting Covid by barely 1% in real-world, Absolute Risk Reduction, terms. So, it looks like even the superior, but still pathetically ineffective, surgical-type face-mask (which no one wears in the community) is about as (un)useful as the Covid ‘vaccines’.
The bog-ordinary cloth mask performs even more poorly than the surgical mask. An RCT of 1,600 health care workers in high-risk wards in fourteen hospitals in Hanoi over four weeks in 2015 found that ‘influenza-like illness’ (ILI) was thirteen times higher for the cloth-masked (2.28% contracting an ILI) compared to the surgical-masked (0.17% getting an ILI). Combine the results of the Hanoi and the Denmark RCTs, and the cloth mask comes out around one-thirteenth as (non)effective as even the best surgical mask.
A hot-off-the-press, Yale University RCT of mask use by 300,000 people in 600 villages in rural Bangladesh (funded by a liberal NGO, Poverty Action, who apparently see themselves as mask missionaries to the world, it leads off with “our objectives were to identify strategies that can persistently increase mask-wearing”) found no statistically significant benefit for cloth-mask-wearing villages (7.6% of villagers reporting ‘Covid-like symptoms’) compared with non-masking villages (8.6%). Antibody testing on a sample of villagers found 0.68% of the mask-wearing villagers had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (thus having acquired the relevant infection some time previously) compared with 0.76% in the non-masking control villages. Leaving aside the methodological flaws of this study, these are not exactly results that will blow anyone’s skirt up.
As William M. Briggs, a right-leaning but invaluable statistician unfazed by any of the usual statistical Covid flim-flammery, concludes, “masks reduce seroprevalence of Covid antibodies in the population by 0.0026%. At best. Since seroprevalence is not a direct measure of disease severity, and we know only a fraction of those with the bug become seriously ill, even fewer than that ‘at best’ 0.0026% are protected against actual illness, of any severity. No better than, say, a reduction of 1%, on average, across all ages become seriously ill or die. So mask protection against serious illness is 0.000026%”.
The cloth mask in rural Bangladesh comprehensively failed and any positive, virus-foiling effect for the surgical mask in the villages is both miniscule and statistically weak. The Bangladesh results do nothing to justify forcing people to wear a mask against any virus, let alone one that spares 99.8% of the population who meet the definition of a clinical infection from it and which only poses a life-ending threat to the comorbid vulnerable, already at or beyond average life expectancy, as any number of respiratory viruses routinely do.
All the mask trials and experiments discussed above attest to the epic fail of the virus protection capabilities of the humble cloth mask. These are complemented by international and intra-national comparisons between mask-mandated and mask-free jurisdictions which show that face-masks do not affect the natural, bell-curve trajectory of the coronavirus whose “infections have been driven primarily by seasonal and endemic factors, whereas mask mandates and lockdowns have had no discernible impact”, concludes Swiss Policy Research from its compilation of such comparative studies. In one study by the CDC of America’s 3,142 counties in the last ten months of 2020, for example, the three quarters of those counties which were subject to government mask mandates barely registered a blip (1.3%) in ‘reduction in the rate of increase’ in Covid ‘cases’ in the hundred days after the mandate was implemented compared to those counties that didn’t muzzle up. This is random statistical noise territory.
Cross-cultural analyses also show that mask-wearing norms (particularly in Asian countries) have no impact on virus spread. Despite its ubiquitous use of masks (against viruses and/or pollution), Japan, for example, still experienced its most recent strong influenza wave in January/February 2019. In mask-diligent China, the face-rags did nothing to stem the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in 2019.
Mask usage during previous pandemics also offers no joy to the pro-maskers. The 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu pandemic saw the widespread use of cloth (gauze) masks (and even cotton handkerchiefs) and these showed no beneficial results against contracting the flu (unsurprisingly, given the porous nature of cloth/gauze masks, as was known at the time). Stockton (in California), for example, made masking compulsory for one month, and Boston (Massachusetts) didn’t, yet both cities showed the familiar, carbon-copy, dome-shape of virus progression, with bare-faced Boston actually showing better results with a lower flu mortality rate (John M. Barry, The Great Influenza). Even the Covid-compliant Washington Post has succinctly said “everyone wore masks during the 1918 flu pandemic. They were useless” – but that was in April 2020, before they found out that Trump was agin’ ‘em and they thus changed their tune on masks.
The WHO, pre-Covid, knew all about the uselessness of the mask against a virus, declaring, as late as December 2019, that “there is only limited and inconsistent scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2”. The WHO’s Health Emergencies Program executive director was adamant, saying, in March 2020, “there is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit”. Both the common cloth-mask and the surgical mask were not designed to act as virus filters, he added.
Who else doesn’t believe masks do a damn thing against a virus? How about the leaders of the G7 where the masks came off for a private party but went straight back on for the public photo-shoot. Or Nancy Pelosi (bare-faced in her hairdresser’s salon where masks were mandatory). Or the Great Fauci himself (bare-faced at the baseball when he thought he was off-camera). Or Barak Obama (partying with naked visage at his 60th birthday bash – everyone virtuously double-jabbed, to be sure, but, small problem: the CDC’s latest mask policy pirouette had specified that even the ‘fully-vaccinated’ must mask up). Or any number of political and health supremoes who, judging by their hypocritical behaviour, don’t believe a word of what they mandate for the plebs.
Many mask-mandating governments don’t believe in the technical bona fides of the masks they prescribe. Some government health websites still promote the homemade mask (the UK advocates fashioning one from an old T-shirt, whilst the Australian government’s Department of Health also promotes the DIY approach) but the flimsy (to a virus) common household materials used for these (even cheesecloth, if you really want to take the piss), not to mention any holes made by sewing needle or pin, are an open invitation to any virus.
In light of all the evidence on masks, you would do just as well at warding off the bad corona juju with your rabbit’s foot or other lucky charm, or making the sign of the cross when entering the supermarket, as you would by slipping your mask on.
Why masks don’t work
So, why don’t masks work?
Invisible to all but the most powerful electron microscope, your typical virus (coronavirus, influenza, etc.), is around 0.125 microns in diameter, one six hundredth the size of the thinnest strand of human hair. The microscopically tiny virus is one thousand times smaller than even the tiniest of gaps in the standard supermarket-issue cloth mask. Even the very best quality surgical-type mask has a minimum 0.3 micron filter, two and a half times larger than the virus. Lesser quality, but more common, surgical masks have gaping, to a virus, holes averaging 2-10 microns, sixteen to eighty times the size of a virus.
Viruses are tiny but the respiratory virus’ preferred mode of transport is via the larger aerosols, the invisible spray of moisture that we release every time we talk or breathe (the heavier and larger droplets we give off when coughing or sneezing generally fall quickly to ground and out of harm’s way to a nearby person) and which circulate in the air, especially in poorly-ventilated, enclosed indoor spaces where people end up breathing the same air whether they are within spitting or sneezing distance of each other or not. Pro-maskers seize on the fact that the mask can waylay any virus hitching a ride on the much bigger aerosol but they ignore the fact of evaporation – within seconds or, at most, a few minutes, depending on humidity and other micro-climate factors, any virus temporarily halted by the mask will ditch its watery transport to waltz straight through, or out, the porous mesh of the mask.
There are even greater virus super-highways around the mask. Beards, pimples and other mountainous skin blemishes are gaping chasms, between ill-fitting mask and skin, to a virus. Oh, and the mucous membranes in the eyes are still available for viral access which is why any serious medical attempt at virus protection uses hi-tech eye-shields and visors as well as vacuum-sealed, fitted mouth and nose masks, all impractical for everyday use. In environments where virus protection really matters, of course, such as Level IV virology labs, they don’t bother with the supermarket or medical/surgical mask – they use hermetically-sealed hazmat suits, regulated to precise standards, with an independent oxygen supply and quality air filtration system, not the grotty thing you just grabbed from your car’s glovebox.
Studies of cloth-mask virus penetration rates show that, depending on quality of design, material and fit, virus penetration varies between 74% and 94% whilst aerosol filtration efficiency (which looks at penetration of the virus with its aerosol transport mode) concluded that, of 44 different mask brands, there was an average of 36% penetration whilst medical masks had penetration rates of 20%. The Hanoi RCT mentioned earlier also carried out lab-testing of mask penetration rates, with the ubiquitous cloth mask clocking up a virus penetration rate as high as 97%, compared to a (still rather underwhelming) 44% penetration rate through the surgical mask – a “very poor” versus just “poor” result, say the researchers. Hi-tech, vacuum-fitted N95 respirator masks (so named because 95% of particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns or less are electrostatically filtered out), which are thoroughly tested for size and fit and are used once and once only, managed to shut out the advertised 95% of viruses but, of course, no one apart from hospital workers wear these.
Surgical masks, because of their white-coat association with medicos and surgeons, sound more intuitively impressive at virus-blocking than cloth masks but this reputation is unwarranted. Surgical masks were only ever intended to prevent (larger-than-aerosol) spittle droplets, potentially containing bacteria, from being expelled by surgeons and nurses and landing in, and thus infecting, a patient’s open wound when in surgery, and to protect the medical wearer against splashes or sprays of the patient’s potentially contaminated bodily fluids. The surgical masks have nothing to do with protection against viruses. They may put patients at psychological ease, as any placebo does, but physical access by a virus through the surgical mask is essentially unimpeded.
There are yet more prosecution witnesses in the case against masks. Amongst the star witnesses are the mask manufacturers themselves who always include a legal disclaimer on their product specifying that their masks are ‘not for medical use’ and ‘will not stop you from being infected or transmitting the virus’.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you can probably stop reading about here and just enjoy, with fascinated horror, the clarifying video of vape smoke (whose particles are much larger than the virus) billowing out, through and around various mask types.
Access and egress routes around a mask are enhanced through incorrect use of the mask. Surgeons must change their fitted medical mask frequently (every couple of hours) and must never touch them lest they contaminate the mask with pathogenic micro-organisms for transfer to practitioner or patient. Compare this rigorous protocol with people’s behaviour with regard to the mask during the Corona Panic. Does anyone go through the Doctor Kildare pre-surgery handwashing protocol and avoid touching their mask? Does anyone replace the soiled face-rag from their pocket every couple of hours with a new, and sterile, mask? Doesn’t happen. The few favourable studies on the efficacy of face masks have all been based on mechanistic laboratory-simulated tests “which quite simply have limited clinical applicability as they can not account for such human factors as compliance, coughing and talking, taking them on and off for a ‘breather’ or to eat or to sneeze, etc.”.
Health authorities once knew all this. Even the now mask-friendly CDC admits that “cloth masks used to slow the spread of COVID-19 offer little protection against wildfire smoke” because the smallest of the particles that make up wildfire smoke are at least four times the size of the virus, so if the cloth mask can’t keep out smoke they are going to be at least four times worse than useless at keeping out a virus.
Yet, the mystical power of The Mask lives on, even gathering extra force with the new, altruistic, refrain of choice – ‘its not about protecting me, its about protecting others’. Reduced to moral guilt-tripping, the pro-mask lobby are saying that, even if you secretly acknowledge that a bit of cloth can’t really protect you against the virus, you, if you are a Good Person, should wear one to protect others – if you don’t, then you are a Bad Person. The ‘theory’ behind this is that whilst the mask will not block incoming viruses, it will block outgoing ones (if the transmitter is infectious – although what the mask zealots are doing out of self-imposed isolation if ill is a bit of a mystery for those who claim to be so concerned for the welfare of others). The ‘logic’ of this is mind-bending. If wearing a mask doesn’t stop the wearer from getting infected then why on earth would it magically stop another mask-wearer from getting infected? It’s all incoming to ‘the other’ you are trying to protect and will get through.
Of course, logic has been abandoned from day one of the mad shutdown of the world for a humdrum virus, so the myth of the Miracle One-Way Mask is quite at home with all the other Covid nonsense. The ‘it’s not about me, it’s about you’ line belongs in romantic comedies – outside of that, in the field of disease management, is only a slogan, simplistic marketing copy for those who see themselves as morally superior in responding to the virus by wearing a mask.
Masks: Not just useless but worse than useless
Not only will the mask do nothing to ward off the virus, it will cause a variety of health harms to the wearer. Even the WHO’s own Technical Guidance, updated in June 2020 and thus well within their Covid Derangement period, still lists eleven ‘potential harms’ from the things. Top of the WHO’s list is the risk of viral ‘self-contamination’ from touching the face whilst handling the mask, repeatedly whipping it on and off and generally fiddling with it, and then touching the face and inviting the viral pathogens into the body with a priority pass.
Even without wearing a mask, people touch their face 23 times an hour, on average, with 44% of these touches involving contact with a mucous membrane opening (mouth, nose, eye) to the body. This finding was for University of New South Wales medical students, whose awareness of the necessity for, and practice of, stern hand hygiene would be expected to be higher than that of the general public. That figure of 23 touches an hour could be expected to be much higher if a person was wearing a facemask and constantly messing with it to ease discomfort or to breathe easier.
With this amount of face-touching going on, it is unsurprising that the mask not only does not protect you from the virus, it actually increases your risk of contracting it because concentrating the viral load through constant touching of the mask makes it easier to reach an infection threshold, as recognised by many individual scientists, and in reviews of the research literature, and in many other sources on the infection risk from inappropriate use of the mask, including sources that still do, or used to do, actual science (here, here, here, here and here, for example). For the final ironic indignity, the elevated rate of viral infection in mask-wearers can also be due to a weakening of the body’s immune effect caused by lower oxygen intake during mask use.
The Hanoi RCT on the (in)effectiveness of the cloth mask in Vietnam’s hospitals discussed earlier also delivered a parting shot on the harms of the mask, observing that wearing a cloth mask “may potentially increase the infection risk” for health-care workers because “the virus may survive on the surface of the facemasks, aiding virus transfer from the mask to the hands and then to vulnerable parts of the body.”
Mask use has been shown to increase the risk of influenza infection, as even the CDC notes. This was the CDC that – before they went mad (or rather, remembered who their political bosses are i.e. Covid-alarmist governments – and who their paymaster is – Big Pharma) – still paid attention to independent science. A UCL study (from the same stable as the mad modeller, Neil Ferguson, but clearly from the organisation’s saner reaches) concluded that “if face masks determine a humid habitat where the SARS-CoV-2 virus can remain active due to the water vapour continuously provided by breathing and captured by the mask fabric, they determine an increase in viral load and therefore they can cause a defeat of the innate immunity and an increase in infections”.
If, despite all the infection-enhancing properties of the mask, you get lucky and dodge a bout of one viral infection or another, there are other micro-organisms out there that will stand a better than usual chance of nailing you thanks to mask-wearing. Bacteria and fungi readily multiply in the moist petri-dish of the mask when worn for any length of time. A German children’s charity had laboratory testing done on the typical supermarket mask after having been worn by a schoolchild for eight hours straight and the result (the original source for this study has been ‘disappeared’ by the ‘misinformation’ snatch-squads of Big Tech but it lives on in secondary sources) was 82 bustling bacterial colonies and four mould (fungoid) colonies having the time of their contaminating lives.
But wait, there’s more! Added to the increased risk of viral, bacterial and fungal infections from mask use, are a range of additional harms. Here’s some of them: increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, cerebral vasodilation, sore throat, chest congestion, dehydration, respiratory problems, hyperventilation, rhinitis. Rebreathing more of your own waste CO2 instead of oxygen adds more to the list including headache, migraine, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, hypoxia (which can damage brain cells), hypercapnia (which can result in cardiac overload, renal overload and metabolic acidosis), drowsiness, dizziness, loss of concentration, decline in cognitive performance, fainting and impaired decision-making (watch out for those masked drivers!).
There is also the potential for (sometimes fatal) bacterial pneumonia – which was a bigger killer than the flu virus itself during the 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu, and who knows what damage (potentially carcinogenic) may result down the track from breathing in the toxic synthetic fibres from the mask. Psychological problems round out the menu of mask harm: a decrease in empathy, being flooded with physiologically-damaging stress hormones and, my favourite, a “psycho-vegetative state” (which describes the devoted maskoid to a T!). So, if harassed by a jumped-up Covid Marshall about going bare-faced in the supermarket, you would be entirely justified in saying that you are mask-exempt for any or all of these health reasons.
The crowning irony of the mask is the false sense of security provided by it – they don’t work against viruses yet they encourage those who are genuinely vulnerable to the virus (from age, co-morbidities, obesity, compromised immune systems, etc.) to venture out to their possible doom in the illusory belief that the mask is providing protection.