By Kevin Roche
If we should have learned anything from the epidemic, it is that most of the tactics that supposedly would suppress the virus–school and business closures, plastic barriers, social distancing and masking; made no impact on spread in the community. Masking became a real flashpoint; ordered everywhere including by our insane governor Little Timmy Walz, with absolutely zero evidence of effectiveness. But when you are a petty, very petty, tyrant like Little Timmy, you enjoy forcing people to do what you say, just because you want to.
Now we have two more clear pieces of evidence that in fact masks are worthless. First up is an updated Cochrane review. This is probably the most prestigious source of health care evidence for the effectiveness or lack thereof in regard to purported treatments. Earlier versions of this review found no significant evidence for masks to prevent infection or transmission. This version is more of the same. (Cochrane Review)
The review goes by the fancy title of Physical Interventions to Interrupt or Reduce the Spread of Respiratory Viruses. It includes all manner of interventions, but the update is focussed on masks and hand-washing. None of them are found to be effective. The methodological quality of the studies was generally found to not be good. Anyone who looks at the data, and at the percent of the population now infected knows that masks are garbage. They truly are virus collection devices. They may in isolated instances prevent transmission between individuals but over the thousands, tens of thousands, millions of daily encounters, they make no difference in how many people are infected.
This study is further proof of mask inadequacy. It is the long ago completed Guinea-Bissau community study, but publication was undoubtedly held up as long as possible by zealous peer reviewers determined to protect the mask religion. And you only need to read the abstract to see why they tried to sit on it until the findings were largely irrelevant. A cluster randomized trial design was utilized in an urban area in the country. Mask use was mandated. One thing the study demonstrates is that people lie all the time everywhere around the world. 99% of participants claimed to wear masks, in both the intervention and control arm. Direct public observation showed about 40% use, again basically similar between the trial arms. People are also often incompetent. Only about half of people wore the mask correctly. Giving the intervention group masks and messages about good use had basically no effect on either infection rates or mortality. (Lancet Preprint)
As I always say, wear ’em if you want to, but don’t delude yourself into thinking it makes a difference.