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How the experts messed up on Covid Why did all the major health authorities get it so wrong back in March?

An absolute nightmare of a year. Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images

An absolute nightmare of a year. Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images


and
October 26, 2020   8 mins
and
October 26, 2020   8 mins

Masks work? NO.” Scott Atlas, a member of Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, wrote a tweet the Saturday before last that opened with these words — only to find it deleted by Twitter a day later. In the offending tweet, Atlas had written that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had both recommended against mask-wearing, and had in fact argued that it could cause “many harms”.

This violated Twitter’s policy against Covid-19 misinformation, so it had to go. As the New York Times noted, both the WHO and the CDC do recommend wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus.

The only problem is this: mere months ago, both the WHO and the CDC both had argued — in fact, argued very confidently — against the use of masks, just as Atlas said. It won’t do to ignore this rather inconvenient fact, as the New York Times did, or to pretend the statements were never made. That’s because the Atlas affair provides an object lesson in how overconfident claims by experts, especially on issues as fraught as Covid-19, can come back to bite them.

Throughout the pandemic, experts have been all too willing to make claims about the virus that bordered on the hubristic. It’s easy to forget, for example, that the first months of 2020 saw widespread and confident scepticism of any risk from the novel disease that was sweeping Wuhan. As an infamous (and since updated) BuzzFeed article advised readers not to worry about the coronavirus, but instead to worry about the flu, leading political figures found it difficult to resile from their initial “don’t panic!” stance, even as the pandemic began to take hold.

As late as 3 March, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, supported by his health commissioner, told residents to “go on with your lives + get out on the town despite coronavirus”. This plea for normalcy was made on the day that global coronavirus cases reached 90,000, and a mere month before the total Covid deaths in New York City exceeded those of 9/11. 

It shouldn’t be damning to make a bad call — nobody gets every prediction right; any professional forecaster will tell you that the best you can hope for is to be wrong less often. But the fundamental problem is the high degree of confidence with which the bad calls were expressed. Stating a position without the attendant uncertainty makes it very difficult, should the situation change, to update your views without losing face. In a crisis, slowing down that view-updating process could cost time, money, and even lives. Even after the update is made, those who heard your original, dogmatically-expressed view might have lingering doubts — or might even use it against you.

Few areas better illustrate the pitfalls of expert overconfidence than the question of facemasks.

The initial messaging on masks from the WHO emphasised that masks were needed in medical settings where infected patients were likely to be coughing directly on or near healthcare workers.  The message was echoed by the US Surgeon General on Twitter, who exhorted citizens to “STOP BUYING MASKS!”, since they “are NOT effective in preventing [the] general public from catching #Coronavirus”. Both emphasised the need to preserve mask supplies for healthcare workers.

This might have made sense given the assumption that the coronavirus behaved like influenza — the model disease most countries were using to plan for a pandemic. If that was the case, it was thought, masks would likely be ineffective at preventing transmission outside of hospitals. Indeed, studies of facemask use for influenza had found mixed results. This, coupled with a norm that health organisations should require ultra-solid evidence before making recommendations, somewhat paradoxically meant that the “masks don’t work” message became ever-more-confidently projected — even as the evidence behind it looked shakier and shakier.

In the UK, the public health community embraced the anti-mask message more strongly than most. For example, in care homes, where around half of the UK’s Covid deaths have occurred, staff were informed by the government in February that “face masks do not provide protection from respiratory viruses such as Covid-19 and do not need to be worn by staff” (incidentally, the following statement from the same document — “[i]t remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or the community will be infected” — stands as one of the most tragic of the entire pandemic).

On 4 March, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty argued masks would reduce the risks of the non-infected “almost not at all” and said he would not advise wearing them. The medical website patient.info noted that its readers might see people wearing masks out and about. “Don’t worry if you haven’t bought one”, they wrote. “The masks are fairly ineffective for the average person. Only people caring for infected people and the infected people themselves needs [sic] to wear masks.” Even volunteer sewing groups were asked to make morale-boosting patterned scrubs for NHS staff instead of using their skills to boost the mask supply.

The anti-mask campaign soon escalated beyond messaging. In early March, two businesses selling facemasks were banned from producing adverts that claimed their products offered protection from “viruses, bacteria, and other air pollutants”. The adverts, it was said, were “likely to cause fear”. This was on the advice of Public Health England, who didn’t just not recommend masks, but claimed they might raise the risk of transmission, since they were “likely to reduce compliance with good universal hygiene behaviours”. Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, said that the firms selling facemasks who linked their product to the pandemic were “callous” and “outright dangerous”, and that advertising masks in this way had “rightly been banned”.

The campaign to keep British faces uncovered culminated in a video released by the UK Government on 11 March, where the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Harries, told the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms that wearing a facemask was “not a good idea and doesn’t help”.

From the vantage point of mid-October, this seems more than a little odd. Masks are now mandated on public transport and in shops, are worn prominently in public by politicians and their public health advisers, and have become a normal part of life. The US Surgeon general who had so vehemently decried the buying of masks on Twitter now has a picture of himself wearing one at the top of his page. Once again, the issue was not necessarily that the original messaging was wrong — as we stated above, the evidence was patchy, and decisions still have to be made.

But the sheer effort undertaken to double down on what could only ever have been an uncertain message helped to narrow the range of options, and likely slowed the eventual change in policy as studies, models and reviews arrived to bolster the case for masks. Overall, whereas the data is far from knockdown, and there hasn’t yet been time to run and publish high-quality randomised trials, the observational and other evidence does point towards a protective effect of masks for this disease.

Had the evidence for the experts’ views been rock-solid, some impatience with public disagreement might have been justified — particularly given the emergency situation. As it was, though, those who even gently queried the evidence quickly became subject to ridicule.

In a difficult-to-watch clip from Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 show in mid-March, the model and businesswoman Caprice Bourret was upbraided by the show’s medical expert, Dr. Sarah Jarvis, after suggesting that a country-wide lockdown might be helpful. Jarvis perfectly encapsulated the expert attitude with which we’re familiar, telling Caprice that “unless you have read every scientific paper… you cannot argue with me on that. You can have an opinion, but it’s not a fact.” Undeterred, Caprice went on to note that in some East Asian countries that had enjoyed (and still enjoy) a better Covid trajectory than the UK, a large proportion of citizens wore surgical masks. “…which make no difference at all”, Jarvis snapped in rebuttal, laughing at Caprice’s attempts to respond.

Other experts followed suit in suggesting that coronavirus worries — and in particular, disagreements with expert advice — were indications of ignorance, or of low-quality thinking. The American Psychological Association’s Senior Director of Practice, Research and Policy, Lynn Bufka, told Time magazine in March that mask-wearing was a “superstitious behaviour”: “Even if experts are saying it’s really not going to make a difference,” she argued, “a little [part of] people’s brains is thinking, well, it’s not going to hurt.”

One of us has written previously about the overconfidence of experts in the realm of psychology — in particular, how many writers over-applied our shaky, laboratory-based evidence on how people deal with risk to this real-world, unprecedented pandemic situation. Harvard’s Cass Sunstein self-assuredly wrote in February about “probability neglect”, the tendency of people to exaggerate a threat that “triggers strong negative emotions”. This, Sunstein argued, explained people’s “excessive fear” about the coronavirus pandemic — essentially, they just couldn’t properly think it through.

Sunstein, for his part, soon performed an impressive volte-face, writing a month later about how “we can’t be too careful” about coronavirus — without once acknowledging his previous downplaying of the threat. Perhaps if he’d admitted how drastically wrong he’d been — that is, if he’d projected somewhat less confidence — he wouldn’t have subsequently been hired by the WHO to chair their “Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health”.

Research that looks at people’s beliefs about Covid often bolsters the narrative of “the experts” versus “the unthinking”. A recent paper from academics at Cambridge surveyed people’s beliefs in Covid misinformation. Some of the beliefs they examined were bonkers conspiracy theories (“the new 5G network may be making us more susceptible to the virus”), and some were just daft (“breathing in hot air
 (e.g. from a hair dryer) kills the coronavirus as it can only live in cool places”). They were all taken from the WHO’s Covid “Myth Busters” page, and they are all indeed myths that it would be silly to believe. But it can’t help but feel ironic that, at the time these academics accessed its website, the World Health Organisation was spreading its own confident misinformation: just one click away was the WHO’s page telling people not just that they shouldn’t wear masks if they weren’t directly looking after a Covid patient, but that it might actively be dangerous to do so.

Imagine travelling back in time to various points in 2020, knowing everything we now know about the coronavirus and its spread. In February, as you warned the world of the grimness to come, some experts would have told you that you were suffering from “probability neglect”, and that you should be more worried about the flu. In March, your view that masks would be helpful in controlling the disease would have marked you down as an agent of misinformation — psychologists might have suggested techniques to cope with your superstitious thinking, while Public Health England and the WHO might have said you were increasing the risk of spreading the virus.

Equally, if a time-traveller with the approved public health opinions of March 2020 journeyed just seven months into the future to the present day, their mainstream anti-mask position would be viewed with similar derision: they would perhaps have their thinking explained with regard to their gender, or might even be labelled a likely sociopath.

Which brings us back to Scott Atlas and his “Masks work? NO!” tweet. Although his views might seem absurd with our October-2020 hindsight, it wasn’t difficult for Atlas to find a rich seam of recent, strongly worded expert quotes to back up his anti-mask case. This wasn’t inevitable: although being misinterpreted or misrepresented is an occupational hazard for any expert making public statements, if so many experts had avoided going so far beyond the evidence, Atlas and those like him would’ve had a harder job.

The “expert view” vs “the misinformation” is a false dichotomy. It can be tempting to offer only certainty in times of crisis — but part of being an expert is knowing when to be uncertain, and being strongly aware of the provisional nature of our knowledge. Trustworthiness doesn’t just come from being right, but from communicating the limits of the evidence, and regularly updating one’s view in light of new data and analysis.

Overconfidence from the experts, coupled with a willingness to denigrate and even pathologise those who publicly dissented, might have made it harder for us to change course during the pandemic, costing us precious time that we couldn’t afford. If experts fail to reckon with the inevitable uncertainties of our current times, we risk delaying the next crucial update — or worse, overlooking it altogether.


Stuart Ritchie is a psychologist and a Lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London

StuartJRitchie

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Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago

This is the wrong take on the problem. You are assuming that the scientists got it correct now, when they got it wrong in the first place. But that, of course, is the whole matter under discussion. ‘Trust the science’ say the proponents of mask wearing, but when you look around for scientific evidence that the masks do some good, you don’t find any of the sort of gold standard studies we normally need before we go around proclaiming the scientific truth of a statement. These would have been fairly easy to design — tell one chunk of the country to start wearing masks, let the other mostly do without, and see if the cases drop in part A compared to part B. This would have indicated a desire to find out the truth, and a belief that the truth is out there.

The problem, as I see it, is that the scientists now ascendant are not the hard scientists, but the social scientists who are in the business of nudging, and otherwise manipulating public opinion, the spin doctors and marketing offices of government. The scientific establishment is well-on board with these people, because they need government funding. This has produced the situation where science has stopped being about the truth and has become about the fashionable — or unfashionable opinion. The people who claim that there is no truth, and it is all a matter of posturing have triumphed, probably beyond their wildest dreams of a decade ago. Whether X is science or not has to do with how prestigious the title of the person doing the saying is, and not whether or not some scientific study has demonstrated that X is true, or not-X is false, with a reasonable amount of certainty.

Political lies are no longer things to be exposed, but to be expected, and aligned with. Unwelcome truths are no longer things that you have to grudgingly accept, anyway, in the light of the evidence but, things that you can feel perfectly justified in rejecting because nobody has bothered to produce the evidence. Believe this because of who else believes it! Who cares why they do! It all reads like the definition of “governmental logic” out of the old television show, _Yes Minister_.

“Something must be done! This is something!.Therefore we must do it!”

andrew harman
andrew harman
3 years ago

I think you nail it in particular with your last comment. It was vital to be seen to be doing something and mandating masks seemed like the easiest thing to do, allied with an insidious media campaign to stigmatise those who demur from this new orthodoxy – the same thing was done when the Guardian attempted to smear those behind the Barrington Declaration. Time and again I have heard that masks are backed by the science but nobody has actually produced any actual evidence, they have merely spoken of it. You are also right to highlight the assumption that the science is now right when history tells us that we cannot make that kind of assumption. In fact scientific convention has been undone on many occasions throughout history: spontaneous generation; the miasma; alchemy and no doubt in many other instances.

Moreover, the approach now being taken is in fact the experiment: never at any time before has a pandemic been handled in the way governments are doing so no.

In every sense, it seems to me that we are seeing the cumulative product of a kind of group-think, both amongst politicians and “experts”.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Good point and also in the one above yours.

But the problem of the need to appear certain about things is widespread across our whole society in most groups activities.

When a thing is nobody’s job then it’s true; nobody ends up doing it.

In groups it’s also true that the consensus view may end up being a view nobody actually held, expounded or believes in 100%.

The problem, as the article points out, arising when it isn’t presented as such, to politicians with nuance, and they then rush off thinking they’re following the science.

I still don’t know if that problems of *protecting the NHS*, by decanting infected patients to care homes was explained with nuance and the thicko politicians didn’t get it… or it was never actually explained in those terms until too late…when, as usual, suddenly everyone realised they’d always realised what the problem was, the balance of risk and reward in doing it, and never tired of telling us so.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

You are both completely wrong. There is NO pandemic, and there never was. The overall naturally occurring death rate for this year (per month, per European country) is less than in 2018, 2017, and 2016. (2019 was particularly low), so tell me gent’s “where is the pandemic?” Have a good think about what I’ve just told you. This has nothing to do with a “virus”, this is a pre-planned, manufactured, event to obtain the “global reset” as proposed by the World Bank, and World Economic Forum. The UN, Who, and CDC. They are all complicit in this mass deception, and our government (along with 193 other countries) signed up for it. I could post all the evidence, but this platform will not allow me to, so I say to you. Go on the World Economic Forum website (and Rockafella foundation) and go onto the “global reset road map to transformation”. It will open your eyes. None of this is accidental or random. We are not dealing with a virus, we are dealing with the implementation of the New World Order.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago

IMO, your second para is spot on.
An unknown virus originated in a country whose government is not normally listed under the heading ‘Open and Transparent’.
Yet, in Canada at least, a logical ‘better safe than sorry’ response was not only dismissed but, as the article points out, actively ridiculed by the government scientists and medical professionals.
So was there medical evidence that masks were useless or was that a political response to the fact that millions of masks in the government’s emergency stockpile were past their Best By date?
And what about restricting travel from China until we get a handle on what we’re dealing with or at least quarantine travelers from the infected region?
Apparently that would not only be unnecessary and ineffective, it would give rise to a greater danger – anti-Chinese racism.
So here we are.
Masks are mandatory almost everywhere and international travel is all but shut down completely either by outright bans or quarantine restrictions.
The science regarding the Covid response has the same unmistakable politically-infused stench that emanates from the Climate Change issue.
The credibility gap is more like a credibility chasm.

croftyass
croftyass
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

the same unmistakable politically-infused stench that emanates from the Climate Change issue.
Totally-hence “the science is settled” on Climate Alarmism Change-its poltiically driven .

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

To my huge delight, the Greta Thunberg movie was released on 18th Oct at a local multiplex. Just when hardly anyone is going to the cinema and we are all preoccupied with other matters.

As the Climate Emergency/Change/Crisis/whatever crowd recognised some time ago, “scientific” arguments are useless. What we need are emotive ramblings from a mentally troubled teenager who tells us to listen to the science.

S Trodare
S Trodare
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

If Greta knew the science she would know that we have the lowest atmospheric CO2
content 0.04% according to NASA today than in any period covering the last 600 million years. Leading us to wonder if CO2 might possibly be too low rather than too high?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  S Trodare

Below is a direct lift from NASA.gov. You’ve either been misinformed or are misrepresenting them.

Imagine there are no people. Imagine a planet where the sea level is about five to 40 meters (16 to 131 feet) higher than normal. Imagine a planet that is hotter and wetter. Imagine, worldwide, it’s roughly 3 to 4 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than today. And the North and South poles are even warmer still ““ as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than today.

Welcome to the Pliocene. That was the Earth about three to five million years ago, very different to the Earth we inhabit now. But in at least one respect it was rather similar. This is the last time that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were as high as they are today.

On May 9, 2013, CO2 levels in the air reached the level of 400 parts per million (ppm). This is the first time in human history that this milestone has been passed.

Philip Perkins
Philip Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  S Trodare

Plants around the world are certainly flourishing now that CO2 levels are rising, as NASA’s satellite images of global greening clearly show.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

ALL the masking articles previous to March 2020 stated there was no scientific evidence to justify universal masking. There is no new evidence on this. Surgical masks are not virus preventing to any degree.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  Trishia A

Not correct :

https://www.sciencedirect.c… September 2020 Well done review

https://www.thelancet.com/a… June 2020 Good review with Forest plots

Mora Fields
Mora Fields
3 years ago
Reply to  Trishia A

Yes, and these articles have mysteriously disappeared from many websites, including CDC’s. Anybody curious about that?

m trumper
m trumper
3 years ago
Reply to  Mora Fields

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/a… Have kept the link and it is still active.

m trumper
m trumper
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Hi Walter, actually all of the science in regards to the spread of respiratory viruses does not support the use of masks by the general public. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/a…. There are no significant differences in transmission vectors between previously studied viruses and the particular one. However, and RCT that tested this hypothesis has been completed in Denmark and we await its publication. If it does show efficacy, then those of us who have read and understand the science will take that into consideration.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Every Plague in recorded History has originated in the pestilential hell hole we now call China.
The ‘next one’ to come from this cesspit of humanity, is likely to mirror the good book, ” Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands (I Samuel 18:7)

‘We’ must cauterise this cesspool with immediate effect, preferably with a ten megaton weapon. (lots of them).

s p
s p
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

The parallels between the issues of Covid and Climate Change are unmistakable. I idea that science or a scientist is devoid or above politics is ridiculous.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Excellent comment in total and regarding masks, exactly, there is nothing definitive yet iro mask wearing. I wore a mask in the beginning defying science and now I am railing against it, because it is now proven that Covid is not the killer that was promised. I am still not convinced that a lump of virus laden sputum is better lying on the outside of my mask rather than up my nose, but I simply don’t care to support the draconian measures being employed any longer. As far as possible, I am living my life. Out and about as a ‘senior’ member of society.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago

This last sentence encapsulates it perfectly.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

There is a large study from Demark on the subject of mask wearing.
Unfortunately, none of the science/medical journals will publish it.
The authors are so worried about its conclusions, they will not disclose them.

I wonder why?
Which science should I be following?

alancoles10
alancoles10
3 years ago

Facemasks ,the placebo for the masses!

Suze Burtenshaw
Suze Burtenshaw
3 years ago
Reply to  alancoles10

I’ve seen them referred to as ‘lucky charm muzzles’.

Eric Baskeyfield
Eric Baskeyfield
3 years ago

Magical anti–virus hankies. Or just face-nappies.

Sean Arthur Joyce
Sean Arthur Joyce
3 years ago

Well stated Ms. Creighton! I find it odd that on one day, UnHerd publishes an interview with Dr. Scott Atlas clearly stating that masks don’t work, then publishes this piece, which states the opposite. Are they deliberately stoking cognitive dissonance? Then they are doing the same job as the technocratic elites and medical “authorities” have done, since confusion is as effective as fear in controlling the populace. Independent reporter Jon Rappoport has found in CDC documents that “no quantified virus isolates of the 2019-nCoV are currently available” for testing! As Rappoport rightly concludes, “The pandemic is a fraud, down to the root of the poisonous tree.” A virus with a 99.99% recovery rate is not a scientific basis for shutting down entire economies, destroying millions of family businesses, scaring millions into avoiding treatment for cancers and other diseases, and causing the tsunami of what Dr. Atlas calls “deaths of despair.”

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
3 years ago

I upvoted this for some of the things you said – but as for masks, the thing is they are common sense if you know that viruses do not fly about by themselves but are typically embedded in globs of mucus or saliva. They were common sense in March and they are common sense now, even if certain people have reversed their positions.

m trumper
m trumper
3 years ago
Reply to  Gerry Quinn

Earth is flat, Sun orbits the Earth, speed of light is infinite are one of the thousands of “common sense” assumptions that have been tested and found wanting. This list also includes masks prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. The RCTS have been done over the past 50 years and they have been found to be ineffective and in the case of cloth masks at least one experiment showed they increase infections. Perhaps the best discussion on this is this article https://www.aier.org/articl… The author is eminently qualified to comment on this. His discussion on what actaully happens to the viruses that are trapped in the water droplets and aerosols is fascinating and somewhat depressing as it shows how elusive and quixotic are our attempts to manage the virus.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago
Reply to  Gerry Quinn

The problem with common sense is that it is entirely possible to have conflicting common sense ideas. Right now we strongly believe that the reason health care workers, as a group have developed more severe covid than the population at large is that they have been exposed to an increased viral load. This is a common sense notion — more viral load, worse disease.

But the whole point of masks is to trap the virus particles behind the mask, and spread fewer of them. This means an infected person will inhale them again and again. This gives them increased viral load. Common sense says that they will get sicker than they would have if they hadn’t worn the mask.

And this shows the limits of common sense, and indeed theorising about problems in general. You need empirical epidemiological field studies, and empirical evidence to prove or refute your common sense, i.e. real science rather than the opinion of a scientist or a scientific modeller.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
3 years ago

For another very good example of an epic failure of common sense, see the discussion below re. diet guidelines. Cholesterol build up in the arteries was causing heart attacks, common sense would dictate eat less cholesterol, so worry much more about fat than sugar. This has not worked out well.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Gerry Quinn

The problem with common sense is that for millenia common sense told us that demons, witches and angering the gods caused epidemics of disease.

Since there are multiple good, non-common sense reasons that some masks could cause increased transmission of COVID (e.g. virus on dust, extra aerosolation through spandex, the shooting it all up over your head and all over the old ladies in the queue behind you effect), the common sense view that since N95 masks reduce particle transmission to areas in front of you, then anything that nominally covers your face can’t be actively harmful is, well, _just_ common sense.

I suspect only a snap of really cold weather and a few viral videos will show people where their plumes of breath are really going.

m trumper
m trumper
3 years ago

That was going to be my comment. The actual science around non-pharmaceutical measures for dealing with infection has not changed since the May 2020 publication of this CDC guidance. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/a…. Yes there have been many observational and mechanistic studies but they never actually test the actual hypothesis as has been done in numerous RCT previous to the current situation. In actual analysis that tracks case numbers vs mask mandates and lock downs, the results are dismal. We need to get back to the science and away from the politics if we are to come out of this in one piece.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago

“You are assuming that the scientists got it correct now, when they got it wrong in the first place.”
I think you’re mistaking scientists in general, who were openly saying back in February and March they didn’t know if masks worked etc., with government and official science spokespersons, who did indeed leap in with apparent certainty where none was warranted.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago

There has been a study that suggests effectiveness calculated in areas with a mandate using other areas as control. The study (https://www.healthaffairs.o… found a 2% case reduction but with a lot analysis. So masks may help but spread is inevitable. Mask carelessness will defeat use.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Here in the UK, that revered icon, the NHS, is rapidly turning into a National Horror Show.

At the beginning of “The Great Panic” we were exhorted to “Protect the NHS”! Which struck me as rather odd, as I had mistakenly believed that the NHS had been there to protect me, since its foundation in 1948.

Now the renowned ‘Insight Team’ of the Sunday Times tells us that by using the splendidly named ‘triage tool’ the NHS has denied treatment to the elderly or “coffin dodgers ” (CDs), on a epic scale, thus ensuring many thousands died at home or in ‘ care’ facilities, rather than in Hospitals. Brilliant!

As the average age of death from C-19 in the UK is 82.4, just above normal life expectancy of 81.1, perhaps this makes sense? For most of us CDs, trotting along happily, in the Valley of Death (VOD) this is of no great consequence.

However what is truly appalling, is the lives of most of ‘the young’ (anyone under 55 say) have been trashed on a industrial scale, for no good reason. The VOD still has about 13 million of us, most of whom do not wish to be bullied around but rather left to make our own choices and run our own risks.
However to do this we need total transparency, so that we are fully aware that we will be denied entrance to a NHS facility should we attempt to enter.

As Kipling so appositely put it, very soon our politicians and ‘others’ will face the question “what tale shall serve me here among, mine angry and defrauded young?”. The omens are not good.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

As a senior, but not quite a CD, I laud your approach and wish to vote you into higher office.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Many thanks!

I am happy to report that the process of apotheosis is already under way.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

The Sunday Times story is inaccurate. The triage tool in question was never implemented and development of it as an operational tool ceased in March. The Sunday Times could not quote a single NHS Clinician willing to speak on record to support its story.

The average life expectancy in the UK for people aged 80 years is 89 years for men and for women it is 90 years.

Ten years of life may be of little consequence to you but, fortunately for others, health care professionals consider if very important.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

The Sunday Times could not quote a single NHS Clinician willing to speak on record to support its story.
And? An unwillingness to speak on record hardly prevents stories from being published nowadays. It’s almost a running joke in the US how many stories are based on “sources with knowledge of thus-and-so” or “someone close to the matter.” Speaking on record carries potential consequences, especially when it debunks official dogma.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

So, the claim is thousands of doctors and nurses were asked to do something that goes against the fundamental tenets of their profession by a political party they are generally critical of and not one of them wanted to call the Government out on it? And not one Trade Union? They were happy to speak out openly about the lack of PPE and the lack of testing. Despite it being critical of official dogma.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Nobody is going to admit closing the oven doors at Auschwitz are they?

Colin Macdonald
Colin Macdonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

True, but covid-19 didn’t just kill random 82 year olds, half the fatalities were in nursing homes where the average life expectancy is 13months.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

Fair point. I think it’s 26 months for the care sector as a whole and 13 months for nursing homes. That’s a mean though, so half on average live longer. it’s still a lot of people who might actually want and cherish those years.

Stuart Harris
Stuart Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Or they might not give a damn and be living miserable, painful and lonely lives. Quality of life should be the true aim, not just life expectancy. The NHS seem incapable of handling scare resources practically and so they will never be adequately funded while they try to keep all CDs going for just a few more years!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

You appear to be one of those who believes in trying to suppress the ‘virus’ at absolutely any cost?

If the ‘young’ weren’t so bovine they would have ” taken to the streets” by now, and probably will by Christmas.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
3 years ago

Lest we forget these Public Health experts are the very same buffoons who have recommended the same diet for the last 40 years and overseen an unchecked pandemic of obesity. Rather than look at and question their advice they simply double down on it and blame the public for not following it. This sorry episode is no different.

I’m afraid that you’d be pushed to find a greater oxymoron than the phrase “Public Health expert”.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

The advice is fine, it has to fight against the full power of the fast food industry and processed food advertising. It took a long time for the message qabout smoking to get through because the tobacco lobby could make much more noise.

incornsyucopia
incornsyucopia
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

No, the advice has been awful and wrong. The evidence is clear: people have followed the guidelines, lowering meat and saturated fat consumption as the “experts” insisted, and the results have been an unmitigated disaster.

alancoles10
alancoles10
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

Expert,someone who is incapable of saying “I don,t know”!

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
3 years ago
Reply to  alancoles10

Just stick with the old definition:
X – the unknown factor, spurt – a drip under pressure.

m trumper
m trumper
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

Road to Hell paved with Good intentions: the Unintended Consequences of Food Guidelines. In an attempt to control an unexplained surge in heart attacks “healthy men in the prime of the life” , identifying the wrong cause (fat) and then embarking on an uncontrolled population wide experiment that altered both attitudes towards food, and the food system. Dissenting opinions from “fringe” scientists were downplayed as the great experiment in public health began

The results are in and the population is more diseased than ever and perfectly setup for a relatively mild virus to come in a start doing what nature has always done, cull the sick and weak. This might seem very coldhearted, but that is a biological reality.

Now faced with another health crisis, our governments again are undertaking a great unprecedented experiment on the population in spite of reservations of “fringe” scientists that include Nobel prize winners, top virologists, epidemiologists, public health experts etc. What will be the unintended consequences of lockdowns?

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago

Sadly true. The idea of trusting professional expertise was already in dire straits before this, and now I think there’ll be no salvaging it for at least the duration of the 2020s. The complete switch from “there must be something wrong with you if you want to use a mask” to “there must be something wrong with you if you don’t want to use a mask” is like something out of right-wing satire of progressive folly.

The real lesson, I feel, should be one of humility. If even the experts can be completely wrong, then perhaps none of us should be too sure that we’re right – and then maybe we should hate the people who disagree with us a bit less. I don’t think that’s the lesson anyone is going to take away from it, though.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago

Between “don’t” and “do” there was no change of scientific evidence in masking. So they weren’t initially wrong. What changed their mind is not science but populist fear-mongering.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

The experts today think that opinion is fact. The real experts look for evidence before they open their mouths.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

To be sure, experts could do with some more humility too.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

As Michael Gove pointed out a few years ago, the ‘experts’ will always be useless. And as I have pointed for some years, the western mind is in a state of collapse. Covid has surely proved this beyond doubt. And still they don’t look at Sweden, which provides a perfect example of how to proceed.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Churchill on experts. Seems to still hold.
“nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get in the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge, and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows where it hurts is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialized character.”

Charles Savage
Charles Savage
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

I was always taught that “ex” is an unknown quantity and “pert ” – read “spurt” – is a drip under pressure. Seems to fit!

SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

So true – put ten scientists in a room and you will get eleven opinions. That is all they are – opinions/interpretation – and let’s face it every person in the country has an opinion on Covid. Personally I wear a mask – which I believe to be totally useless – simply to avoid being hassled – or fined!

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago
Reply to  SUSAN GRAHAM

The Churchill quote seems meaningless and of course insulting to the population, just as your remark is insulting to scientists. There are genuine scientists but now it seems many have been influenced by money and power and who have forgotten the basis of science. Put ten genuine scientists into a room and if they have different opinions, they will work out the experiments needed to establish the evidence.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

What you say is true about what we might call pre-political science. However, as science became important, it acquired three unscientific elements to its reputation: it became confused with authority, it became politicized. and it became highly monetizable. These qualities caused it to get sucked up into the class systems of the US and the UK (and probably most other communities, as well). The exertion of class on a population tends to make it dumber and less competent overall, because the offspring of the upper classes are given breaks that put them ahead and over everyone else, but meanwhile they are reverting genetically and culturally to the mean — as for example the Bush succession up to G. W. Bush. The community of experts and administrators and so forth claim to be meritocratic, but of course they are as nepotistic as anybody else and as a result they are in decline.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

“Experts” != Scientists

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  SUSAN GRAHAM

We are legion.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

Or, a typically brief and pungent Churchill quote: “Scientists should be on tap, not on top”.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Fraser Bailey – in many ways Trump is trumpeting the Swedish protocol: soft lockdown, herd immunity, no masks. This has been enough to make many in the world veer towards the opposite stance. Proof positive to me that many people are incapable of eschewing identity politics – they cannot debate and consider individual issues around logic and emerging science.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It’s not that “experts are useless”. What’s useless is media cherry picking which experts they choose to follow.
The point of experts should be to debate the contentious issues and the evidence at hand, not to be single out as individual gods.
Their role is to inform debate, not decide policy.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Trishia A

People seem to want authority, and they impose it on science, which in most cases has none to give. A scientists are supposed to be skeptics, not true believers. People don’t want to hear this — hence instead of looking into the issues, they attach themselves to one system of authority or another, usually political or religious.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

Living in Scotland I can’t forget the way masks were introduce here.
It was mid July and cases were at rock bottom. Yet, it was announced that from then on we would need them, but they never really explained WHY and for HOW LONG and what the EXIT strategy would be. All these aspect were conveniently overlooked.
At the height of the pandemic we could get our shopping done mask-less, but at what looked like the end of the pandemic we were asked to wear masks? No explanation given? No backtracking, no apology, no EXPLANATION??
And to add insult to injury, cases have been on the rise ever since.
And all the draconian measures we have now to live with are being introduced exactly… on what basis? Because “the Science” tells us, but we know that “the Science” will tell us something on Mon, Wed and Fri, something else on Tue, Thu and Sat, and something else altogether on alternative Sundays, and at all time claiming to represent “the Truth”.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I think the rationale behind the introduction of all these measures stems from the (pick a number, any number) predictions, sorry modelling, which stated confidently that there would be bodies in the streets if we did nothing. Random measures are put in place: no bodies on the streets, therefore thank goodness we put the measures in place. Bonkers, but lapped up by the masses.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

Very true indeed.
Still, back in march to July going to supermarket wasn’t like going on set of “The night of the living dead”. I am not aware of any cluster of cases involving supermarkets at all. Instead just the other day there were 20 odd people found positive in a M&S. How did that happen, despite all the “clean room’ procedures?

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

They stopped cleaning the trolleys between uses

animal lover
animal lover
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

The test gives false positives

Rod Salter
Rod Salter
3 years ago
Reply to  animal lover

As Dr Malcom Kendrick pointed out. If you test 1000 people you get 110 positives. Of these, 100 will be false positives. What a laugh.

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

I think the politicians know they have messed up, and are using masks as an excuse to claim their efforts worked, when in reality, herd immunity, weakened/mutated virus, and better treatments have already slowed it down.

stephen archer
stephen archer
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Scott

I think it could be more of case of “well they’re doing it, so so should we” – it doesn’t matter what studies and research have verified as being effective, just do anything!

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago

Too many of the studies which proport to show masks work were taken during the May – June period, when cases were in retreat. They’ve ignored the almost universal resurgence that has occurred after mask mandates came into effect and are still referring back to those papers.

Also, there has been a large high quality study on masks conducted in Denmark. It’s an open secret that the results were “controversial” I.e. didn’t show masks work, but it’s being refused publication by all major journals.

Too many experts and politicians are putting saving their own reputations before the truth during the pandemic.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Ah, thanks for this comment as it may very well be the one I’ve seen that’s been nagging at me. I’ve commented on the publication issue elsewhere on this discussion.
Your comment on reputations is absolutely correct. There is evidence that so-called experts are actually lying. One expert has accused Sir Patrick Vallance of directly lying in statements he’s making on basic immunology and if he wants to sue him them fine! He uses the word “lying” as he knows Sir Patrick knows what he’s saying is incorrect.

Ian SN
Ian SN
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

The expert is Mike Yeadon, a one time co worker with Vallance. So he knows exactly. Why is there no take up from the MSM about this, Hartley Brewer has had him on twice making the same statements. No rebuff, no counter statement, no legal action so there you can make up your own mind. Im with Mike. Lsiten to the full interview on Delingpole on PodBean

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian SN

Hi Ian…Yes I’ve seen Mike Yeadon. I’ve heard the podcast and read his article. I didn’t want to be so brutal as to name him but you have so that’s OK! I’m with Mike as well. My curiosity started to be pricked in April around lockdowns and has grown ever since. I’m now confident that test and trace is a fools errand despite the fact that it is actually better than any other system in Europe. One additional concern I have with the test is that of treatments. If a person gets a false positive test then they will be treated as a covid patient and may actually be wrongly treated and could end up dying as a covid patient when they should’ve recovered by being treated for what they actually had. As a sense check does this make sense?

Viv Evans
Viv Evans
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian SN

It is worse than that. This podcast and his previous paper on that issue in Lockdown Sceptics of Oct 16th have been shoved into the dark hole that is the Covid MSM. If they don’t mention it, it simply has never happened, was never said or written.
Note that Prof Henegan is occasionally allowed an ‘outing’ in an article in the Speccie, as a ‘representative’ for the attitude of ‘we are also giving the other side a hearing’.
However, none of the ‘science and health editors’ in the MSM take a blind bit of notice. Thus SAGE and the government can disregard it: ‘the people’ aren’t talking about it so it’s just background noise.
And that is the desired result: people won’t hear or read alternative explanations because ‘they do not exist’ – because nothing does until the BBC reports it.
Simple, isn’t it.

andrew harman
andrew harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Last point bang on and I have been saying this for some time myself. This is less about protecting lives and the NHS and more about protecting reputations. The politicians and “experts” have painted themselves and us into a corner.

andrew harman
andrew harman
3 years ago

Just been reading up on the Danish study and what we know seems to support the position that the journals are reluctant to publish owing to the results being politically and professionally “inconvenient”. I am emphatically not a conspiracy theorist but I do think there is something to be said for “collusion theory” where individuals and groups strive to cover one another’s backs.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

I think the problem is worse than this. In the field of public policy there is a well understood problem called ‘regulatory capture’. The people who are tasked with regulating an industry for the common good need to be experts on the industry. But the best source of experts are people who, surprise surprise, work in the industry. Between providing the best group of people in the field, and promising cushy jobs to regulators when they retire from their position, we end up with the foxes guarding the hen-house and producing lots of fox-favourable regulation, even though the public weal might demand fox-unfriendly legislation, or even the outright shooting of foxes.

I think that a very similar thing has happened to what used to be independent science. Scientists and their institutions are now so dependent on funding that they have lost their ability to have a loyalty first to the truth, and moreover to police their own institutions. They either spit out the opinions that their corporate masters-and-funders want to hear or they spit out the the opinions that their government masters-and-funders want to hear. With the high level of lying, the effort to present the truth seems quaint.

So I know what is at stake for the scientists. What I cannot figure out is why, with all this attack journalism, there aren’t journalists who are exposing such lies all the time. Instead they just repeat the opinions they want you to believe and mock (and worse) those who have other opinions, as if ‘reporting the truth’ was something utterly foreign to the job of journalist.

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago

For the same reasons as scientists. There’s no money to made by herd immunity, but a lot of advertising dollars to be gained with a future vaccine.

Ken Palmer
Ken Palmer
3 years ago

In the UK at least, journalists have no interest in questioning the science. They would much rather beat up the government for following it.

Baron Jackfield
Baron Jackfield
3 years ago
Reply to  Ken Palmer

They can’t question “the science” as almost all of them, like almost all of our politicians are scientifically- and mathematically-illiterate.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

Almost no one wants to hear science, which is always going to be ’70 this, 30 that, maybe — maybe not’ for a long time. That’s not what they want. If the politicians don’t give them what they want, at least in a democratic country, they’re out of a job. The same for businesses.

Chris Clark
Chris Clark
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

I agree with you that it appears the Danish mask study may be facing a wall of opposition because of its findings, but as the authors haven’t clarified whether their paper is being rejected for publication outright or whether it is being rejected after peer review, we can’t be sure what the situation is. The former would seem to be totally unacceptable unless the study is so poorly designed at first sight that its quality is just awful – or as the implication is being made, none of these 3 journals wish to be the one to publish findings that go against the current ideology. And the latter, rejection after peer review, would imply that the authors are unable to make sufficient changes/improvements to analysis or interpretation to satisfy the reviewers. The authors aren’t specifying at which point their article is being rejected.

As for peer-reviewed journals refusing to publish important findings for political or ideological reasons – this is so far beyond the pale it is absolutely alarming for the future of medical research. Horrible implications.

Why don’t the Danish authors just submit it to a lesser journal to get it out there – as a retired medical researcher, I can assure you that at the end of the day, it doesn’t particularly matter which peer-reviewed journal a paper is in: it will face the same reception from interested parties and then sink or swim on its own merits…just get it out there!

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

“Overall, whereas the data is far from knockdown, and there hasn’t yet been time to run and publish high-quality randomised trials, the observational and other evidence does point towards a protective effect of masks for this disease.”

From the day that mask wearing was imposed on us, in England, the 23rd or 24th of July, cases of Covid 19 started to rise again.

The graph was going steadily down before this day. Why would a randomised trial be more conclusive than the data from real life? Are randomised trials more random than real life, are they more rigorous, more scientific than real life? If so what bearing do they have on real life? Why would we believe ‘the science’ after all it has revealed itself to be, rather than the evidence of real life?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

For a number of reasons, masks do more harm than good.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Do list them!

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

‘From the day that mask wearing was imposed on us, in England, the 23rd or 24th of July, cases of Covid 19 started to rise again.’

Of course, correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation and there are a myriad of other factors at play, not least the rising number of tests being conducted, but I’ve just checked out your assertion there in terms of the marked rise in UK case numbers and the corresponding compulsory introduction of face masks.

You’re not only correct, but the size and speed of the increase itself is indeed startling.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I think there has been a recent randomised trial that demonstrated that the original science was correct. I’m damned if I can find it again! I do remember however than when asked when it was to be published the reply was “when we can find someone who will publish it”

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

If it is the Danish study, then, it was reported in the Danish news by Berlingske. Google up “Professor: Stort dansk maskestudie afvist af tre top-tidsskrifter”. (and run the result through Google translate if you do not speak Danish.)

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago

Thanks for that, found it, but behind a pay wall. https://www.berlingske.dk/v

Val Mugridge
Val Mugridge
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

There was a Danish study that concluded in June, and it has not been peer reviewed or published, so we can only guess at the outcomes, but it seems unlikely that it pointed to mask wearing being effective

https://clinicaltrials.gov/

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

If they can find someone “brave” enough to publish it.

jonathan.meldrum
jonathan.meldrum
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Alison you need to propose a plausible causal explanation involving some kind of principle of transmission in order to link the two, and to at least give some suggestion why more plausible explanations such as increases in human contact due to relaxation of individuals’ behaviour, which do involve a principle of transmission, are less likely to be to blame.

You’ve said science is false and the evidence of real life is superior – yet your claim about masks causing disease takes the form of a scientific proposition, i.e. one about cause and effect (albeit without making any attempt to identify a principle of transmission, or suggest why likelier explanations are false). Does this mean you think we should disregard you too?

Paul Buxton
Paul Buxton
3 years ago

Not Alison, but there are several plausible explanations as to why facemasks may increase transmission. These include:
– people being less careful with other important measures to reduce transmission, such as hand washing, because they think that masks are the gold standard for preventing transmission
– people feeling unwell with Covid symptoms venturing out because they think masks will protect others
– people transmitting the virus from the mask to surfaces because they are touching the face mask (a potential reservour of viruses) and then touching surfaces
– people touching their faces to adjust masks, thereby increasing risk of infection
– people breathing in a higher viral load from their own masks (if they are infected)

You only have to look the public health advice for mask use (don’t touch the mask, dispose of it immediately after use and thoroughly wash hands immediately) and watch actual people stuffing their used and dirty masks in their pockets to see the risk.

David Butler
David Butler
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Buxton

I have kept one of those white inside and light blue outside ‘disposable’ masks in use for 3 weeks. I only put it on to be allowed into shops. Its a farce! As far as I am concerned I had CV-19 in April and paid for an expensive antibody test to show 4 months later that I still have very low but still measurable IgG and IgM antibodies. I am more concerned at keeping my immune system trained to recognise common cold and flu viruses. Who knows, mask wearing may make us more vulnerable to these common viruses because we may now encounter them less. So a possibility that this slavish cult of mask wearing may actually make the population as a whole more vulnerable.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
3 years ago
Reply to  David Butler

I do the same, keep a mask in my pocket which I wash or replace very occasionally, and only wear in supermarkets etc. I doubt whether it has any major effect on common viruses. I’ve had several minor colds, with sneezes, this year. Perhaps the good coronaviruses are keeping the bad ones away. (Or perhaps I already had the bad ones, who knows?)

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Buxton

World Health Org: Pg. 6 & 8:
“Advice to decision makers on the use of masks for the general public
Many countries have recommended the use of fabric masks/face coverings for the general public. At the present time, the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider (see below)”Š Potential harms/disadvantages The likely disadvantages of the use of mask by healthy people in the general public include: “Âą potential increased risk of self-contamination due to the manipulation of a face mask and subsequently touching eyes with contaminated hands;(48, 49) “Âą potential self-contamination that can occur if nonmedical masks are not changed when wet or soiled. This can create favourable conditions for microorganism to amplify; “Âą potential headache and/or breathing difficulties, depending on type of mask used; “Âą potential development of facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne, when used frequently for long hours;(50) “Âą difficulty with communicating clearly; “Âą potential discomfort;(41, 51) “Âą a false sense of security, leading to potentially lower adherence to other critical preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene; “Âą poor compliance with mask wearing, in particular by young children; “Âą waste management issues; improper mask disposal leading to increased litter in public places, risk of contamination to street cleaners and environment hazard; “Âą difficulty communicating for deaf persons who rely on lip reading; “Âą disadvantages for or difficulty wearing them, especially for children, developmentally challenged persons, those with mental illness, elderly persons with cognitive impairment, those with asthma or chronic respiratory or breathing problems, those who have had facial trauma or recent oral maxillofacial surgery, and those living in hot and humid environments.” https://www.who.int/publica

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago

Data is good enough to imply causation, and is better than merely providing a theory of cause and effect. I myself have been intrigued by the rise in multiple countries cases coinciding with the introduction of compulsory mask wearing.

However, just for the fun of it I’ll throw in my tuppence.
One of studies published in support of mask wearing explicitly stated (in the middle of the paper, not the abstract or conclusion) that surgical and N95 masks reduced (roughly halved) particle count, but that paper and cotton cloth masks roughly doubled it.

If (if!) covid viruses attach to dust particles that hang in the air this could possibly increase transmission to non-mask wearers. I suspect a cloth mask could prevent you from inhaling dust expelled by other mask wearers. I won’t go into my theories on cold shock and how mask wearing might protect you from it.
So, theories!

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

there is a difference between causality and contiguity. I remember noticing many years back that throughout the day when Mass was said at Westminster Cathedral a train would leave from Victoria Station for Bognor Regis and Portsmouth Harbour. Only at idiot would suggest the one had caused the other. The advice to wear masks came at the same time as lock-down was being lifted. It is quite possible that without masks the rise in Covid would be much higher since July

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Unlikely. Look at seasonality segment 19 mins in on this. Behavior of virus has much more to due w/ temperate/latitude than anything else.
https://www.youtube.com/wat

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Indeed. Thus incongruous data should prompt us to design good experiments to confirm the data. If a good experiment confirms the incongruity this demands new hypotheses and new experiments to falsify them. Hopefully ad infinitum, or at least until the cost outweighs the benefit.

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago

This site shows many countries where cases increased after mask mandates put in place: Mask charts https://rationalground.com/

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

Sebastian Rushworth M.D. Swedish Doctor Speaks.

Health and medical information grounded in science
How deadly is covid-19?
sebastianrushworth 2020/10/24/how-deadly-is-covid-19/

September 2020 was the least deadly month in Swedish history, in terms of number of deaths per 100,000 population. Ever. And I don’t mean the least deadly September, I mean the least deadly month. Ever. To me, this is pretty clear evidence of two things. First, that covid is not a very deadly disease. And second, that Sweden has herd immunity.

sadly this will be unheard on the BBC

Julie S
Julie S
3 years ago

Good article. Thanks for sharing.

David Lawler
David Lawler
3 years ago

Masks don’t work. They’re just an instrument of control and conformity

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

I had the same stupid mask in my pocket for a month now. I’m sure should I drop it on the floor it’d crawl away on its own..

Mark Tomlinson
Mark Tomlinson
3 years ago

Why should I believe a bloody word you say. in fact would I be better off assuming the complete opposite to be true.

Watching experts spout advice with absolute certainty and conviction which completely contradicts advice previously given by them with equal certainty and conviction, and all done without a hint of embarrassment or apparently denting their sense of self-righteousness. Watching experts shape government policy on the basis of models that are give a spurious credibility by the use of term ‘mathematical’ but which on close examination have about the same efficacy as a horoscope.

The whole process is rotten to the core and at the heart of the problem is a corrupted academic and a political class

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Tomlinson

Yet it’s what we demand. See above.

Derrick Byford
Derrick Byford
3 years ago

Am I wrong in thinking that there has been just one properly randomised scientific study of the effectiveness of masks conducted since the start of this pandemic (in Denmark)? And that we are still waiting for publication of the results (for some unknown reason).? And that all evidence from fifteen years of study prior to the start of the pandemic provided no evidence for the effectiveness of non-medical masks (hence the original WHO, CDC and UK advice against them)?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago
Reply to  Derrick Byford

For a comprehensive umbrella study of most or all of the studies of mask use and respiratory infection see:
“Masks for prevention of viral respiratory infections among health care workers and the public — Peer umbrella systamatic review” in the Canadian Family Physician journal. I’d post the link but unherd won’t let me post articles with links.

Peter Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
3 years ago

Some reports have been deliberately censored. There was one about mask wearing for dentists written 2016, very informative, but was removed “inappropriate at current time”. Blatant censorship.

Link to Canadian Family Journal, if you can copy n paste..
https://www.researchgate.ne

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

Having reviewed the interesting comments below, there appears to be much more sense talked on here than in SAGE and the Cabinet. Not that those august bodies wish us ill, but they do wish to be admired, as many of us do. Having got themselves mostly in an utter pickle, there are very few “experts”, let alone those who took their advice, who can now admit they were wrong, or at least that did not know, and mostly still did not really know.

Masks, for instance, are not good for efficient respiration – the most junior medical student knows that – and should be worn as little as possible. And most masks, certainly all those fabric ones, will not stop virus particles passing through.

The odd thing is that I would have a much higher opinion of an “expert” or politician who simply said: “I’m sorry, I was wrong. I apologise and will endeavour to learn from my errors”

Stuart McCullough
Stuart McCullough
3 years ago

I am reminded of a phrase often used in my time with a Japanese car company that itself stems from Zen Buddhism; Beginner’s Mindset – in the expert’s mind there is only one possibility, in the beginner’s mind their are many.

A spirit of humility, open mindedness and eagerness to explore issues without preconceptions yields much more knowledge and wisdom than the dogmatic and strident positions that we in the West love our “experts” and leaders to adopt.

Can you imagine how much a government minister would be pilloried and ridiculed in the House if he or she gave a reponse along the lines of “I don’t know the answer to your question but I intend to study the issue and learn”?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

I have said it before, and I will say it again.

This is not a Public Health Issue.

It s a Population Compliance exercise.

Phil Gilbert
Phil Gilbert
3 years ago

2 weeks ago my son and I went to Sweden for 3 day break from the UK – partly because we needed a quick holiday, partly because we wanted an escape from the trials and tribulations affecting the UK right now. We spent our time there in Gothenburg and Stockholm.
We expected the obvious, no mask wearing. And I mean NO mask wearing. But what struck us both was the total lack of fear and paranoia has has gripped the UK (and I guess elsewhere), none of the staring at you as if you were a silent spreader, none of the stepping out into the road as you approached. No, life in Sweden seemed to have continued exactly as it used to be in the UK – remember it, when people walked around in large groups smiling and chatting?
We’re told that the Swedes follow the rules without being ordered to do so, but our 3 days there indicated that social distancing was almost non-existent. Maybe in the outlying areas the rules are followed, but certainly in Stockholm we saw no evidence.
Now I come to my main point.
Stockholm is a big multi-cultural city, and it’s where the majority of their Covid deaths occurred earlier this year, but given the almost total lack of restrictions, the Swedish Covid death rate of around 30 in the past 2 weeks is something to behold?!
What exactly is going on in Sweden, if they have a very large city clearly at odds with other large European cities, surely they have got it right??
And that’s forgetting the other positive aspects of their policy – no disruption to children’s education, no mass umemployment, no hysteria, all of which are conveniently ignored by the Swedish anti-Tegnell lobby who constantly focus only on the early death rate.
Why is the mass media elsewhere in Europe not highlighting my points above??

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Gilbert

‘Why is the mass media elsewhere in Europe not highlighting my points above??’

Because the mass media is entirely duplicitous and entirely fake, as a certain Donald J Trump has been pointing out for some time. I think the American people have woken up. The European people need to do the same.

Rickard Gardell
Rickard Gardell
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Gilbert

What do experts all agree with?
1. Avoid crowded, loud talking/singing events.
2. Wash your hands regularly
3. Keep a social distance.
4. If you feel sick, stay home.
If mask wearing get people to relax their approach to any of the above 4 points, it is probably net negative. If it is complementary to the above it might be marginally positive, probably immaterial. This is why Anders Tegnell has been reluctant to introduce mask wearing in sweden.

henrikw73
henrikw73
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil Gilbert

I think it is still way too early to judge the succes of Sweden or any country for that matter. It is probably right to point out though, that Sweden has the 17th highest death rate in the world and that cases are on the rise there as well as the rest of Europe.

Rickard Gardell
Rickard Gardell
3 years ago
Reply to  henrikw73

Look at the last 3 months run rate of infections and deaths. Sweden is well down on mask wearing non Nordics Europe. Focussed protection in all Nordics and Germany. Just sticking to basic principles of minimising the spread.
Sweden is 17 and dropping….

Steve Dean
Steve Dean
3 years ago

Sorry if someone else has said this, but my slightly cynical impression of the masks don’t work mantra was because we, as in the UK, didn’t have enough for the NHS let alone the care homes, let alone the general population.
Now, the supply chain has been sorted, and the old pals lined up with lucrative contracts, the masks work.
It seems quite easy to find an ‘expert’ to back up both sides of the story, even now, even Chief Medical Officers, so I am just as confused as to the efficacy of masks as I was in March.

Jeremy Reffin
Jeremy Reffin
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Dean

I agree. The messaging in March and April in the UK was transparently tailored to the supply crisis. It wasn’t restricted to masks, as I recall. I believe that the stated types of PPE that were required in order to be safe (protect the health worker from infection) were not based on evidence but rather on what was to hand at the time (which wasn’t much).

croftyass
croftyass
3 years ago

the observational and other evidence does point towards a protective effect of masks for this disease.
Well thats it then ! Discussion over-seriously,after all that blather this is what it comes down to?
Interestingly the largest independent and randomised study on the efficacy of mask wearing during the “pandemic” conducted in Denmark has so far been suppressed-I wonder why.Plus-has anybody taken any account of the variation between theoretical models and the reality of mask wearing -loads of people have them hanging from their necks-probably not washed all week-pulled down below their nose.Maybe we should be wearing eye protectors because if someone sneezes on you it can just as easily be transmitted via the eyes!!
Then we have a primary school discussion of statistical correlation by a z list model whose read an article that states that in countries with extensive mask wearing initial death rates are low!!!God help us.
Anyway Monday rant over-so basically yes-the tyranny of experts and if there are any things that have become clear during this policy led disaster its:
Experts are fallible
Experts have monstrous egos and don’t like to be wrong
Politicians and senior public health officials are dangerously innumerate

Isla C
Isla C
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

I like your Monday rants, look forward to reading next week’s.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

Yup. Observational studies are not science. That single sentence pretty much invalidates the entire article.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

The fallacy of the precautionary principle writ large. From the start, it was known that the most vulnerable would be the old and the sick, and lo and behold, CDC figures say 94% of those who died were old and/or sick. And what did we do with that information? Sponsored a wholesale lockdown of society and treated everyone as being at equal risk.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Was the choice to have a wholesale lockdown not based on the actual numbers of deaths rather than percentages?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

It was based on models that predicted deaths well into the millions.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Reminds me of propaganda about AIDS in the ’80/’90s. Again, there were groups who were at substantial risk, but the advertisements pretended that everyone was, which was not the case at all.

Sarah H
Sarah H
3 years ago

Strange that the article states confidently that cloth masks ‘work’ now. The evidence remains equivocal and the author seems to be unaware that there is a Danish paper on masks that is being rather suspiciously locked up at journal review stage.

The wider point is ploughed into this one as if it’s all one: that there isn’t much SARS-CoV 2 to transmit now, whether masks work or not. But hark, seasonal respiratory disorders of all stripes will now be proclaimed as needing a population mask up. Protect the NHS from patients after all.

Julie S
Julie S
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah H

I fear the mask mandate for every flu season will be the panacea for society’s irrational fear of life. Just watched a commercial last night for a cold/flu medication and the actors were not wearing masks when one of them was sick. I immediately thought, “Soon enough, those actors in commercials for flu meds will be masked up.”

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie S

We have become adept at normalizing the aberrant. For nearly 20 years, we’ve taken off shoes before boarding airplanes. Because one time, one guy had explosive material within his sneakers. Perhaps we should be glad the ‘underwear bomber’ did not spur a similar reaction.

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago

Thank God for Unherd. As a longtime reader of the New York Times, I have given up since there is not one column that points out – even carefully – that there may be other “evidence” that shows masks are inefficient. So in order to be allowed into stores and on the sidewalks, I mask up.

The bigger issue – and one that the MSM does NOT want to mention= is that morbid obesity is a greater threat to public health and hospitals than Covid. Obesity also causes the greatest number of underlying conditions that cause death due to covid.

Of course there is a lot of money to be made by the fast food/candy/soda manufacturers and there is no vaccine available . On the other hand, pehaps if everyone wore masks as they went into McDonalds, we could eradicate obesity.

John Vaughan
John Vaughan
3 years ago

Not sure why anyone would listen to these 2 guys who appear to be self-promoters. Nonetheless, what might be of use to readers is the hierarchy of evidence in medicine with 7 levels. The lowest level, 7, is ‘expert opinion’ and these guys are not experts so they don’t even make the bottom rung. Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence-based Medicine, University of Oxford, is an expert and he quotes a meta-analysis (level 1, the highest level) of the only 12 randomised control trials to exist: “When things seem common sense, they still have the same chance of harming or benefiting you and, let’s be clear, the high quality trial evidence of cloth masks suggests they increase the rate of re-infection.” The recent Danish, single trial (level 2) on Covid & cloth masks has been rejected by 3 top journals,seemingly because it confirms the danger. Just watch people using masks if you don’t believe my opinion, which is level 68, by the way!

John Mcalester
John Mcalester
3 years ago

But how do you know that the experts have got it right now ?

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mcalester

Look up Ivor Cummins videos. He shows the decades old science (based on E. Hope-Simpson’s book) on how viruses behave seasonally…mitigation efforts do not work.

Mike Finn
Mike Finn
3 years ago

Given a core principle of the scientific method is to produce measurable predictions that can be tested, it is concerning to see that no significant effort seems to have been made to validate the predictions made in the various studies on mask wearing despite a huge increase in available data in recent months. It seems bizarre that after so long such an important area has not been comprehensively understood with clear and consistent explanations and policies globally. This also appears to be a problem in other areas we might think of as highly important to public behaviour and relatively straightforward to test, such as reinfection risks and contagion periods.

This is not a good look for “following the science”, where the (admitted nebulous) scientific community appears to be putting limited effort to following the basic principles of science itself, so making it easier for conspiracy theories and “alternative facts” to flourish simply by pointing out incorrect predictions in previous studies using new data. This in in turn is making it much harder for both the public and scientists to separate fact from fiction and focus together on the areas of maximum benefit at such an important time.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

This issue is not restricted to Covid 19 or face masks but exists across a wide range of issues. Proponents of “Man Made Global Warming” have developed the phrase “The science is settled” for a number of years. This phrase is deployed to stifle debate by effectively calling anyone who disagrees “ignorant” in exactly the same away as the medial expert on the Jeremy Vine show did.

What we need is for experts to understand what their position is and we need the public and politicians to understand that they advise, not make decisions because they have a deep knowledge in a very specific subject and often no knowledge outside that subject. Studying subjects in depth does not make them infallible nor does it mean that there actions are the right course eg if the experts suggested a 1 month lock down to stop Covid where even essential shops where closed, would anyone think that was a good idea considering we may stop covid but the expert hasn’t considered the number of people who would die as a result of the lock down as that is not their field!

Jeremy Stone
Jeremy Stone
3 years ago

This is only a tentative opinion (not a dogmatic view). But I think it may relatively soon come to be seen that this essay is right about the need to avoid dogmatism (“How absurd…”) but entirely wrong about the mask debate. The extraordinary difficulty that has been encountered by the Danish study (properly powered, random samples, controls) in finding a route to publication is exceedingly sinister. It seems unlikely that it propounds the view that these authors now regard as so obviously correct. Indeed, the betting market is on whether it merely contains a result that masks have no significant effect in restraining transmission, or whether it also sustains some of the negative views that were orthodox science a mere 6 months ago.

Jeremy Stone
Jeremy Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Stone

For the record, of course the Danish study was (when it eventually emerged) somewhat underpowered, hence failed to deliver a statistically significant result. The dogmatic espousal of masks in the absence of strong evidence remains one of the strangest strands in the Covid tapestry.

Glyn Jones
Glyn Jones
3 years ago

We are on a bad trajectory.

We can measure the reduction in influenza and other respiratory diseases relative to past years. At best all the restrictions have reduced (or delayed) deaths by 10-30 thousand (assuming effect on Covid is similar to effect on Influenza). It could be much smaller. This small reduction at a horrendous cost of other lives that will be lost (no NHS treatment) and economic destruction.

Covid is a seasonal virus. cases are likely to continue rising until February / March – then they will start falling as we get into spring.

So it is hard to see governments relaxing measures. They are more likely to double down rather than admit they are getting it wrong.

We need a politician brave courageous enough (don’t ask Sir Humphrey) to admit they got the response badly wrong.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Glyn Jones

Govt officials appear genetically incapable of admitting mistakes. Many in the US give every indication of wanting to cause as much harm as possible to as many people as possible. They hide behind the “if one life can be saved” idiocy while ignoring how many other lives are destroyed or lost in the process.

Stuart McCullough
Stuart McCullough
3 years ago
Reply to  Glyn Jones

And that will take a radical change in the Tory leadership to allow that to happen,

andy young
andy young
3 years ago

There needs to be some proper education about what science actually is, & what it can do, it’s limitations.
Scientific method is incredibly powerful, but only in fairly simple situations. The probability of predicted outcomes meeting actual ones decreases rapidly as the complexity of the situation rises. And the real world is always more complex than any model you can make of it.
Any model we’ve attempted of the pandemic’s progress thus far has failed. There is too much contradictory data & it leads to incoherent & inconsistent predictions.
Scientific analysis is still our only way forward but we must not lie about the inherent uncertainties when applying it to such a difficult situation. We need time to solve the puzzle, & unfortunately that’s something we don’t have

Fiona Cordy
Fiona Cordy
3 years ago
Reply to  andy young

Exactly. And it takes a long long time to build up a full scientific body of knowledge about something. Maybe in 50 years it will possible to look back and make sense of all this madness.

Mora Fields
Mora Fields
3 years ago

It’s interesting that there WERE some of those good “gold-standard” studies showing the ineffectiveness of masks on the CDC website, but they were mysteriously removed or made inaccessible in May or June. They were from several years ago, before covid, and referred to the flu, which of course, applies even MORE to covid. If masks can’t prevent flu, how can they prevent covid, both of which have aerosol particles that can easily penetrate cloth masks and even N95s? These studies have also been removed from other websites, including dental sites, which also have an interest in mask effectiveness. Fortunately this original info has been conserved by the valiant attorneys bringing suit, and by the ethical scientists and doctors who have signed the Great Barrington Declaration.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago

Can we all get away with wearing horror masks come 31/10?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

How the experts messed up on Covid, Foot and Mouth, Iraq, the banks, Libya, higher education, immigration….and one could go on and on. As I have said for some years, there is not one area of public policy that our governing classes and their advisors get right. A society cannot get everything wrong for so long and survive. This relentless and universal failure can only, ultimately, lead to collapse. Covid has accelerated that collapse, and may indeed deliver it.

Nick Welsh
Nick Welsh
3 years ago

Deborah Cohen
@deb_cohen
·
Jul 12
We had been told by various sources WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying. This point was put to WHO who did not deny

Peter Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Welsh

A small group of media-savvy people formed #masks4all and bombarded social media with their idea to “catch droplets”. Massive response, which you’d expect if you sent out half a billion of the things. GovernmentS got scared and put pressure on the WHO to change their more scientific advice to a political one.
#masks4all have a lot of misery to answer for. Hope they’re proud of themselves.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Welsh

The WHO only just changed its masking directive on its website last month!

Peter LastSpurrier
Peter LastSpurrier
3 years ago

I would have thought that the greatest example of unjustified confidence by ‘experts’ has been in the general advocacy of lockdowns and other restrictions that are applied to the whole population. The virus does not seem to pose a great risk to most people, but only to certain groups. General lockdowns, and similar policies, have big adverse effects on the economy ( which we use to pay for health care ) and directly on the health of many people, and also on other things, such as education. Wouldn’t it be sensible to at least try to see if we can have a system of ‘focussed protection’, which protects the vulnerable while allowing most of society to return, more or less, to normal?

I realise this is not an original thought, but the authors of this article sound as if they hadn’t considered it.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Wouldn’t it be sensible to at least try to see if we can have a system of ‘focussed protection’, which protects the vulnerable while allowing most of society to return, more or less, to normal?
It would be perfectly sensible but this would require way too many elected and appointed officials to admit having botched the initial response.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago

We need to stop claiming that Asian countries have done better because of masking, as that is not an evidence-based statement. Different genetic groupings have different degrees of immunity, as catastrophically evidenced by the effects on First Nations of European diseases. Until we have parsed out the differences in natural immunity regionally, it is hubris to state that mere surgical masks are somehow responsible for differential results in Asia.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Trishia A

There have been no Covid deaths in Cambodia. The idea that this is a result of masks (not worn that much) or a super efficient testing regime (seriously?) is absurd. Certainly, the authorities might be covering up some deaths, but there clearly hasn’t been a huge death toll. Someone would have noticed.

East and southeast Asian countries should most definitely not be used as a rigid model for how the West deals with Covid-19.

Sean Arthur Joyce
Sean Arthur Joyce
3 years ago

While the substance of the argument here is sound enough, i.e., medical and scientific “experts” are as fallible as anyone else, and science is easily co-opted where monetary considerations are involved, the article falls apart by resorting to emotional reasoning and failing to cite evidence. In fact, there is no attempt at all to parse and compare the scientific data on masks, merely an emotive statement: “Equally, if a time-traveller with the approved public health opinions of March 2020 journeyed just seven months into the future to the present day, their mainstream anti-mask position would be viewed with similar derision…” As Dr. Atlas and his colleagues at Stanford have explained, the hypothesis they laid out in March has since been verified by the ensuing months of data they have collected. For all but the extreme elderly with pre-existing co-morbidities and the immune compromised, a mild virus with a 99.99% recovery rate.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago

When you discuss Masks people assume its something to do with either the writers vanity or libertarianism or just plain cusedness.

I am not suggesting these points are definitive but these are facts.

1) A dentist or surgeon wears a surgical mask for a limited period of time because of its value during that limited period of time in protecting the patient.

2) In New Zealand we eradicated the Virus without wearing Masks.

3) Touch points have been blamed for a number of resurgent outcomes. A mask would not have helped in stopping transmission in any of these cases.

4) In Victoria aged care facilities went through four fourteen day cycles of Pandemic Level acceleration of deaths whilst all wore masks.

5) In Victoria a Doctor claimed success with Masks just five days after they had been mandatory which contradicts the advice on transmission and cluster degradation.

I am perfectly happy to wear a mask but prefer to place emphasis on Johan Giesecke encouragement to wash my hands regularly. In a space where I had no confidence in my fellow travellers I would like testing operatives wear a mask shield and gloves.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago

Small quibble. New Zealand hasn’t eradicated the virus. The country has just isolated itself from the virus. It’s still out there.

croftyass
croftyass
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

and the $10m question is -how do they open up again without an increase in infections? Can’t wait to watch the political wriggling as the NZ economy totally tanks on the alter of “defeating the virus”.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

looking at the full crowds at rugby matches they have opened up, successfully, see my comment above

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago
Reply to  croftyass

New Zealand is another part of the debate the idea is to keep the borders closed until there is a vaccine. Like all the approaches we will only see which is appropriate when we have gone through the full cycle and move out of this latent stage and move to the withering stage. .

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

the virus is not “out there” apart from the fish packages incident which was quickly contained, the only way you get Covid is from someone else who has it. So if there has been no Covid cases for a few weeks it is not because Covid is being very sneaky and hiding, it is because it has gone. If the virus doesn’t find a host to replicate itself on it dies.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

This coronavirus, like other coronaviruses, is here to stay. The instant New Zealand opens its border, it will be there.

Judy Simpson
Judy Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

So, this must mean that NZ will keep its borders closed indefinitely. We still have a few cases burbling away in Australia, so, by NZ’s reckoning, even that “travel bubble” isn’t safe. You’re right, COVID doesn’t sneakily hide, nor does it magically disappear. Unless we achieve some sort of communal immunity, either artificially or naturally, it will be around for quite some time.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

I agree its a small quibble the point I was making was to get to no community transmission we did not wear masks. I should point out that the advice has now changed and they are mandatory on public transport when community transmission is present.

David Butler
David Butler
3 years ago

NZ has effectively isolated itself – at some point in the future NZ will have to come out of isolation – it will be be interesting to watch what happens!

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago
Reply to  David Butler

My point was simply about Masks whether a policy which has cost 40,000,000 NZ per life saved age 81 M age 84 F 50% demented is an entirely different conversation. I to will be most interested in the exit strategy.

Joann Buff
Joann Buff
3 years ago

All these recent “studies” claiming masks work…is there a single real world incidence where masks significantly reduced deaths that could not be attributed to herd immunity? There’s more evidence of cases going up after mask mandates.

Julie S
Julie S
3 years ago

This article seems to me to have a lot of statements as facts around Covid that are backed up with nothing. “This might have made sense given the assumption that the coronavirus behaved like influenza ” the model disease most countries were using to plan for a pandemic. If that was the case, it was thought, masks would likely be ineffective at preventing transmission outside of hospitals.” Coronavirus, from what I have understood, is most similar to the flu and is a virus which there is no shortage of data, pre- and post covid, that supports the ineffectiveness of masks.

“In March, your view that masks would be helpful in controlling the disease would have marked you down as an agent of misinformation ” psychologists might have suggested techniques to cope with your superstitious thinking, while Public Health England and the WHO might have said you were increasing the risk of spreading the virus.” The New England Journal of Medicine article on masks,

The NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL of MEDICINE, May 21, 2020, article 382;21, “In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

“Furthermore, ‘Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask…'” Strangely though, this article was all but rescinded about 6 weeks later, to say that they were meaning they were in support of MORE masking.

And most recently the Sept. 11, 2020 Mortality and Morbidity weekly report from the CDC finding that 70% of people who contracted Covid were “always” wearing masks when in public.

“Which brings us back to Scott Atlas and his ‘Masks work? NO!’ tweet.
Although his views might seem absurd with our October-2020 hindsight…” Based on the information I have, I would not come to any conclusion like this.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

the SARS” hysteria is Only Matched by ”Climate change” Lies, luckily I am retired,do odd jobs, I dont have to compete in Zero hours lottery(Jobs market) The UK debt £2 trillion has grown since March 2020,When it Was going down after George Osborne,Phillip Hammond disaster years .who Knows what Theresa May’s ”withdrawal bill” Not …Signed uK up to.probably Davos Accord. delegates said see (youtube) ”This is a small window of opportunity,to control people’s lives,Worlds resources”.. Professor Ferguson ineptness is still guiding Boris, and matt hancock’s unreason ..Keir starmer,Ed davey, can only ask for even more stringent moves. Nicola Sturgeon,Mark Drakeford think they Can dictate what is ”Essential”…Meanwhile Professor Heneghan &Professor suntera Gupta statements, ”Lockdowns make things Worse” Goes unheeded..

Billy Fild
Billy Fild
3 years ago

C’mon, why is Twitter & the the rest of the internet “thought police” taking down misinformation & opinion from “Experts” & the “Public” but not from “Big Brother”? …Nothing rationale about most all of this CV “media/Politico” “Narrative”…are they really this stupid? The answer is no…but they are afraid of the 4th Estate & that is the crux of so much of World grief!…..Why talk “Testing” numbers & not “Incremental deaths” & “Patients on life support” vis a vie “Normal ranges”? Why were they “peddling” “Vaccine as the only solution” from the onset? Ridiculous… & yet thanks to “The Systems” missinfo folks still believe so much tripe…C’mon on at a Western Global level this is a Trillion Bucks a year pay for Big Pharma…and BIG “research grants” taken by now already?.. & even more control for the “control freaks” at the “Top of food chain”…So much of all this seems Fishy to me. Part 2 I say we need to prosecute Media & Political fraudsters!

Eric Baskeyfield
Eric Baskeyfield
3 years ago

The advice about masks might have changed, but the actual science hasn’t.

Of course we’ve had the dramatic blue-tinted CGI animations of masks trapping virus particles, supposedly to show us how effective masks are, and presented to make it appear that this is some dramatic new breakthrough discovery ….. as if no-one had ever bothered to study the efficacy of masks in stopping viruses prior to May/June this year.

But these are based on models and laboratory (not real-world) tests. And in the UK & elsewhere there’s also the small matter of cases & deaths dropping off a cliff up to July while everyone was out shopping maskless. Then no sooner were they made mandatory, cases started rising again. So maskless shopping obviously wasn’t an issue.

As someone else commented below, I suspect that part of it is about being “seen to be doing something”, our politicians afraid of being out of step, and so falling into line with other countries as they succumbed one after the other to mask-mania in the same way as they also succumbed to lockdown-mania (taking their cue from China, where masks and
authoritarianism have been the norm forever).

But more than that, my feeling is that masks are useful in creating a climate of fear, of making normal everyday things appear way more dangerous than they really are, dehumanising us and making us all look at each other as potential harbingers of plague, pestilence and death. Because when we’re frightened, we are more likely to “obey the rules” and look to our benign, caring government to “protect” and “save” us. So seeing everyone out & about in masks is a constant reminder that we need to do as we’re told, the subliminal message being that we’re all at equal risk from this “killer virus” (except that we’re not).

I’m usually very sceptical about conspiracy theories, and some of the ones surrounding covid such as all that “5G masts” nonsense are clearly out on the lunatic fringe. But what’s really going on here? What is the REAL agenda behind forcing entire populations into masks? Why was there a 180° about-face in the official advice? These are the questions
that urgently need to be asked.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
3 years ago

I suspect the climate of fear is a convenient by-product of the primary ‘be seen to be doing something’ law. I’ve made my own mask that approximates as closely as I can get it, my smile on my face. I then pin speech bubbles to it that ask the observer a question. I can’t be a blank canvas and I find it disturbing to be faced (or unfaced) by them all around.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago

Excellent historical record, a great refresher – The mask is good for catching anything in droplets but useless for a virus in free air and rather like stopping mosquitoes with a cattle fence such is the scale of things – But the mask is so iconic for the authorities and literally in your face – the Lockdown is iconic but by definition there is nobody there to see it whereas the mask is there for everybody to see your orders being carried out and you can get the wearers to police each other…excellent and deeply satisfying – Never mind that it does no good and likely does bacterial and social isolation damage – We know the Lockdown works to break the spirit because that’s what solitary confinement did in prisons and we know the face covering works to prevent females socialising for some cultures so we have all bases covered to get social depression to go along with the economic depression….Job done.

Bob Honda
Bob Honda
3 years ago

This is no longer about the Science, which has not changed since march. The science is clear on masks, they don’t work to prevent spread of influensa-like illness.

This is also no longer about «honest mistakes» made by bumbling but well meaning Civil servants.

I would argue this is also no longer about Covid19. This is in fact about the financial crisis that started in late 2019 in the repo markets, and “the great reset”. Everything else is just kabuki-theatre.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
3 years ago

You seem to imply they are getting it right currently!

If you look at one of the papers you cite about “mask support” they conclude “Results suggested that face masks reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2
infection; however, all studies were at high risk of bias and the
quality of the evidence was low.”

Hardly rock-solid evidence worth fining people that doesn’t comply. The governments got it wrong in March and they are getting it even more wrong now. Even though the speed of people going to ICU is ten times less than in March politicians act as it was 10 times worse.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

Dear Unherd

Statistical analysis of 118 studies proves ‘efficacy’ of Hydroxychloroquine

YOU TUBE watch?v=lty9Zbmr0Gg
Sky News Australia

Positive Hydroxychloroquine trials and studies continue to pour in from across the world supporting the efficacy of the drug in treating COVID-19 despite the “sneering luvvies,” according to Sky News host Rowan Dean.

Mr Dean said a group of PhD researchers and scientists have done a statistical analysis of all 118 studies from around the globe and have reached some “crushing conclusions”.

“The analysis shows that 100 per cent of the randomised control trials for early, pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis report positive effects, and the statistical probability of this happening for an ineffective treatment is 0.0002,” he said.

“The clowns and others like Brett Sutton, Jeannette Young, the TGA and the COVID Taskforce have only a one in 5000 chance of being correct in their assertions that the drug doesn’t work.

“The study unequivocally concludes early treatment is most effective with 100 per cent of studies reporting a positive effect and an estimated 63 per cent reduction in the effect measured such as death or hospitalisation.

“The probability that an ineffective treatment generated results as positive as these is estimated to be 1 in 23 million.

Mr Dean said in layman’s terms this means there is only a one in 23 million chance according to this analysis that “Chris Bowen and the rest of them are correct when they say the drug does not work”.

“One in 23 million”.

“Think of the Australians lives that possibly could have been saved if it weren’t for these arrogant fools.”

SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago

Dr Sarah Jarvis like all the ‘media medics’ has had a ‘good’ pandemic, a nice little earner – promoted by Jeremy Vine, now believes she is the fountain of all knowledge but exposed as a left-wing Boris/government hating bigot.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Much as i am a fan of Stuart Richie’s work i wonder if he and his co-author are overthinking this? Are these people who flip -flop over masks really experts, or even scientists? On first inspection they hold job titles, qualifications and public profiles that show they belong to evidence based, cautionary-principle following scientific disciplines. Look a little deeper and what emerges is a mix of standard political PR and shamanic showmanship. Not out of place in the modern academic community but i think calling them scientists or experts only makes matters worse by equating ontological faith with rational or evidential knowledge. There are still areas of scientific work where PR and fakery can get you sent to jail – airworthiness certificates or gas system pressure tests are examples. People working in these disciplines have nothing in common with the Neil Fergusons, Jennie Harries or Sarah Jarvis’s of this world whose calling seems more political than scientific. They are associated with science but then so was Josef Mengele. If i play football in the park i am associated with the sport but that doesn’t make me the equivalent of Lionel Messi.

Cecilia Antbring
Cecilia Antbring
3 years ago

Isn’t it interesting that countries like Italy, where masks are mandatory (and where you have to pay a 1000 euro fine if you don’t wear it), cases and deaths are surging explosively now while in Sweden, where we never used masks, we were able to go through the first wave without filling intensive care spots, there has been single digit deaths for 4 months and the society has been functioning quite well?
In Italy, in contrast, where I live people are exhausted, traumatised and yet, when cases surge, the government blames its citizens for not obeying enough. So we all put on our mask and observe how the situation worsens by the day.
I am not a scientist, but I believe the media has failed to pinpoint the risk of installing false security in people when we use mask. Your risk behaviour changes. Who uses the mask correctly anyways? And if you don’t, the risk might be even higher to contract any virus.
I would say, if it now true what our Head Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell says (and by the way the WHO), Oxford scientists (videos of which are posted on unheard) that there is no high quality study proofing specifically that the mask protects us from the spread of corona out in society (studies are made in a hospital environment), wouldn’t it be highly irresponsible to keep telling people that we are protected by the mask?
And also, if the mask would be so effective, why would we need to close down society? Doesn’t the mask protect you after all? This is a clear contradiction. To me it seems like a political move, more than based on science.

Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
3 years ago

So where are all the peer reviewed studies that show masks work to prevent the spread of a virus ? ……..the silence is deafening. OK how about all the peer reviewed studies on mask usage and what they do. AHA! loads of them all pre covid of course and the conclusion : exactly what the WHO, CDC, Fauci etc etc said way back in March.

But hang on maybe all research conducted pre covid was done incorrectly. All the pre covid mask research was done just like all other research so if it is wrong all other research is also flawed for the same reasons! This means the medical industry has been making wrong decisions for a 100 years or more and only now with covid it’s getting it right, namely, masks on women giving birth, no such thing as herd immunity, re-catching a viral infection (quite how the body got rid of it first time is a mystery but hey ho). etc etc Hang on I have plan, let’s take 45million infections and plot them on a chart against mask wearing policy implementation dates. Surely 45 million is a decent enough sample size , right ? Even better we can conduct this research country by country that implement different strategies.

Conclusion from the 45 million plotted points : MASKS MAKE F ALL DIFFERENCE, DUH! In fact in many western European countries infection is rising AFTER mask wearing is brought in.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
3 years ago

It all went to pot at the outset when we were told that we were following the science. There wasn’t any science. There doesn’t seem to be much now. And opinions are like fundamental orifices. Everybody’s got one.

Kevin Ford
Kevin Ford
3 years ago

I agree with the sentiments about drawing overconfident conclusions – then digging in.

It is unfortunate to use masking as an example as to date there has not been any published and serious research on the efficacy of masks in community settings. None. Nada. Such research as has been published is in medical settings and shows some evidence for reduction of spread of viruses – usually comparing medical grade masks with paper type surgical masks. Where cloth coverings have been included in research in medical settings, the evidence of efficacy is extremely limited with some suggestions that masks may prove more harm than good.

Masks wearing is not a neutral activity. They impede communication. They are not typically worn correctly (so any efficacy is compromised – if your glasses are steaming up then the mask is not being worn correctly and is likely not working). Masks are often re-used, may become wet, carry all sorts of bugs etc etc.

The human mouth and lower face has evolved as a uniquely important part of our everyday communication. Covering it with masks changes the way people interact. It is a big step to take without compelling evidence.

Wearing a mask does however communicate a strong social message – we are in a dangerous pandemic and everyone must do what they can to ensure safety for all of us.

John Ottaway
John Ottaway
3 years ago

If you want to know whether masks work check out Dr Joseph Mercolas website. But don’t try to find him on google or Microsoft search engines. Like everyone else that speak common sense he is heavily censored by MSM and you won’t find him in their listings except on Wiki which states he is a fake Doctor whose website is likely to infect your computer with viruses.
These are the lengths MSM will go to hide the truth.
In case you didn’t already guess the conclusion of numerous studies around the world prior to Covid. Masks are at best useless in protecting against viral transmission and at worst very dangerous to the health of the wearer.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ottaway

Not THE John Ottway…?
“Walking on the beach in a force-ten gale
And I saw three hippies saving a whale
(Oh, I hate bleedin’ hippies! So…)
I gave ’em headbutts

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Walking down the street in a force-ten gale
And I saw three crusties drinking ale
(Oh, I hate bleeding’ hippies! So..)
I game ’em facemarks.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  John Ottaway

His website mercola.com is available on most browsers, however i agree his meta-study about masks appears censored. There is little doubt the mainstream medical industry does harm as well as good, i guess only thing open to debate is the ratio. Mercola’s “crime” is his weighing to hard against vested interests. Anyone working in surgery, medical, ITU, renal medicine plus a huge range of chemical, industrial, bio and pharma hazardous areas knows masks ( and gloves, gowns, overshoes, snoods) are helpful single use two way barriers, but ultimately not failsafe and dangerous if re-used as they are in the scamdemic. Even without medical or airborne hazard experience i expect Joe Average is wise to the contradiction that you have to wear one in supermarkets but then touch the produce and keypad at the pay-station with unprotected hands!

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 years ago

Liars, damned liars, and politicians.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago

The “medical experts” didn’t get it wrong at all, in fact everything went according to their plan, which was to take away the liberty and freedom of every citizen, and replace it with their New World Order “global reset”. The virus was merely a tool, a weapon of control to achieve that. Get ready for covid 21, that’s the next phase of the plan.

Billy Fild
Billy Fild
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

C’mon, why is Twitter & the the rest of the internet “thought police” taking down misinformation & opinion from “Experts” & the “Public” but not from “Big Brother”? …Nothing rationale about most all of this CV “media/Politico” “Narrative”…are they really this stupid? The answer is no…but they are afraid of the 4th Estate & that is the crux of so much of World grief!…..Why talk “Testing” numbers & not “Incremental deaths” & “Patients on life support” vis a vie “Normal ranges”? Why were they “peddling” “Vaccine as the only solution” from the onset? Ridiculous… & yet thanks to “The Systems” missinfo folks still believe so much tripe…C’mon on at a Western Global level this is a Trillion Bucks a year pay for Big Pharma…and BIG “research grants” taken by now already?.. & even more control for the “control freaks” at the “Top of food chain”…So much of all this seems Fishy to me.

Zhirayr Nersessian
Zhirayr Nersessian
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

Having read reviews of the WEF Schwab’s book on the 4th industrial revolution I really do fear you are right about this. The next obstacle is Trump which is why what happens in the next few weeks matters not just for the USA but for the world.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago

Trump is not an obstacle, he’s the greatest asset to the freedom and liberty of the global population. He is the only one who is actively fighting the globalists. Why do you think they want him gone so bad?

naillik48
naillik48
3 years ago

The picture is very revealing about the dire quality of much of the decision making.
Look at Matt Hancock – he’s not
listening , he’s posing .

Rickard Gardell
Rickard Gardell
3 years ago

If masks work so well why is there such widespread pandemics in mask wearing countries in europe(and USA). The infection rates are lowest in Northern Europe where mask wearing is relatively non existent.
A recent danish study shows that masks are non effective but the major medical publishers refuse to publish as it doesn’t agree with their (non) scientific, political view. This is called publication bias. Publishers only publish articles that agrees with them.
If people propel the view that masks are incredibly protective, without much evidence, it could have the opposite effect as people might not stay home when sick, be less careful with social distancing and hand washing etc in combination with taking masks on and off.
At best, wearing masks can only be of marginal benefit. Look at the real life data in front of you.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
3 years ago

I’d like to add to this conversation by saying, 1) Have ‘the experts’ stated current knowledge too emphatically or has it just been interpreted that way? I’d like to see some statistical analysis proving this point – particularly by the co-writer who is a super forecaster (how has that now become one word, by the way?)
2) on the subject of masks, which is an interesting choice of subject to try to emphatically ‘prove’ the point above, what infuriates me is lack of context, particularly physical conditions. What’s the point of debating a generalistic masks do work/masks don’t work argument? For example, I definitely seem to remember reading a lot about how masks lose their effectiveness when damp – a reason why the official advice still recommends changing yours if it gets damp. I am living in Italy where it has been mandated to wear masks all the time outside as well as most public and work related indoor environments. Where I live is also a marine environment where it’s always humid but, as Autumn has set in, it’s downright sodden. Right now it’s pouring with rain and we spent most of last week with fog. How can my permanently damp mask – also now damp from internal condensation against the colder air outside – be deemed to be an effective tool? No wonder most people wear them under their chin as much as they can get away with. Why do I have to follow a blanket directive that comes from investigations into specific conditions in a specific physical location for a specific period of time rather than be given the agency to make my own choice based on well communicated, clear information about what might work, where, when?
The experts aren’t the problem. The people applying only a glancing understanding of how that expertise might work in an every day, real world situation without giving me the choice to do differently without social censure and financial penalty are.

Greg Eiden
Greg Eiden
3 years ago

“the experts say” has become the first and last thing I need to know about any issue. What they say is wrong–bank on it, you can’t lose. The experts got every single thing that mattered about COVID wrong and they still are. What’s worse, the “experts” in media think they only need to consult the scientific or public health policy experts…the decision as to what to do is political, so why not consult political experts as well? The damage done to real science by the climate crowd, green energy crowd, and now public health policy crowds is probably irreversible. Full disclosure: I”m a PHD physical chemist with 30 years experience in research and pretty successful. The whole scene is disgusting–not a courageous person visible in any scientific discipline…except Scott Atlas at Stanford and maybe Osterholm at U Minnesota.

Fabian Destouches
Fabian Destouches
3 years ago

Looking at the countries which did well with covid and the countries which didn’t the quality of the population makes as much if not more of a difference than the quality of experts or politicians.

Bruno Noble
Bruno Noble
3 years ago

“Plus-has anybody taken any account of the variation between theoretical models and the reality of mask wearing -loads of people have them hanging from their necks-probably not washed all week-pulled down below their nose” – how’s that relevant? It’s the same as not wearing a mask. No-one who advocates mask wearing is advocating wearing a mask improperly (whether below their chin or below their balls)… I’m always amazed when people bring this up. The argument is about wearing a mask properly – ie over mouth and nose – or not wearing one at all. Having one somewhere else on your person does not come into it at all.

cbarclay
cbarclay
3 years ago

The media will only report certainty. The scientists who qualify their views will not get onto TV or into the papers.

The politicians were desperate to ‘follow the science’ and put the decision-making in someone else’s hands, unaware that there was not one undisputed scientific view. They should now be wiser. That means understanding that the best the scientists can do is offer a range of possible outcomes with estimated possibilities and that the ultimate decisions remain in their hands.

A topic the media ignore is the vested interests represented by our scientific experts. I wonder why? Could it be that they are desperate to keep their share of Big Pharma’s advertising budgets.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  cbarclay

Yep – they need those Big Pharma ad budgets. especially in the US.

Dominic Straiton
Dominic Straiton
3 years ago

The great man had something to say about this.
“nothing would be more fatal than for Government of States to get in the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge, and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows where it hurts is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialized character”
Good old Winston. You would have thought Boris would have taken this on board. Just shows how incredibly fortunate this country was in 1940. There will never be another however much we wish for one.

John Stone
John Stone
3 years ago

House Resolution 1154 introduced into Congress by New Jersey Damocrat Tom Malinowski equates and merges vaccine criticism with Q Anon conspiracy. Such convenienient sleight of han is effectively both an attack on democracy, an attack on freedom of speech and an attack on science – trying to prevent people discussing the the safety of science or the integrity of the people promoting it, who are massively protected and being channelled billions of dollars by corrupt, and intellectually lazy politicians. In relation to COVID we have to face facts that none of these products has a convincing effectiveness profile, and much will not be known about their safety for a very long time, even if they are properly monitored, which seems immensely unlikely.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

MANIFESTAZIONE TORINO 26 OTTOBRE 2020 Piazza Vittorio
you tube watch?v=xMyRCWR6_F0

Italians fight back against Covid Tyranny

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago

LOL !

This just dropped into my inbox from the New York Times (a bit of a panicky news outlet but they provide great links to really good studies) :

“The power of mask mandates :

They restrictive, tedious and hotly contested, but since the early days of
the pandemic we’ve known masks to be an efficient and cost-effective way
to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

And they’re even better, it turns out, when you oblige people to wear them.

Take Kansas, where a real-world experiment in face coverings emerged this summer.
In early July, Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, issued a statewide mask order, but was forced to let counties opt out of it under a law limiting her emergency management powers.

Only 20 of the state’s 105 counties enforced the order, which required residents to wear masks in public. Those 20 counties saw half as many new coronavirus infections as the counties that did not have the mandate in place, according to a new study from the University of Kansas.

Cellphone-tracking data from the University of Maryland showed no differences in how often
people left home in the counties with or without mask mandates, so it seemed likely that the masks made the difference.

Experts say it’s part of a countrywide trend: Localities that impose mask mandates often see fewer cases, fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths and lower test-positivity rates than nearby localities that do not.

Other studies have turned up similar results in Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. A recently published report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 75 percent drop in coronavirus cases in Arizona less than a month after mask-wearing became enforced and bars and gyms were shuttered.”

I have only looked so far at the power point presentation from the University of Kansas Institute for Policy and Social Research “Do masks matter in Kansas ?” – “Yes” according to their study. Small numbers involved but consistent results.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 years ago

This is a really interesting set of slides. Thank you for posting the title so I could look it up.

Tanveer Azam
Tanveer Azam
3 years ago

So do masks work or not and under what conditions? Have we gone to the other extreme in being too confident that they work?

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago

To me the bigger issue, rather than masks, is how the danger from Covid is related to age. In March, this wasn’t really understood, whereas now, it’s abundantly clear. The evidence around masks was pretty marginal in March, and is now still pretty marginal, just he other way around.

The response from the public health authorities, however, has been to change strategies around masks, while essentially ignoring the fact that people under the age of 40 are very, very unlikely to be effected by Corona virus and that this is mainly an issue for the over 70s. When I go out here in the UK, I invariably run into lots of very frail elderly people, using walkers or wheelchairs, in the shops or restaurants going about as if nothing is amiss. It would seem obvious, given what we have learned over the last six months, that this is a really bad idea, but no one says or does anything about it, as long as you’re wearing a mask.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

The relation to age was understood in March. SAGE had the data on 6th March on IFR by age. It was released rather quietly a while ago amongst a blizzard of other papers on a Saturday.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

The stats published in early March indeed stated comorbidities plus age were the principal factors. Nothing has changed since.

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago
Reply to  Trishia A

The concern is that they failed to use it in the strategy deployed and never told anyone they had it. John Ioannidis was derided in March but was actually right on a whole host of stuff. His recent peer reviewed paper now published has had many reaching for the phone to apologise I hope.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

It’s not just age. 90% of the aged are safe from this.
It’s age PLUS comorbidity, and usually 2 or 3 cormorbidities.
Comorbidity is also the controlling factor for deaths among the non aged.
Lifestyle illnesses are the principal determinant of Covid outcomes.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin