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What is the truth about face masks?

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Face masks turn us into voiceless submissives - and it’s not science forcing us to wear them, it’s politics


In the name of Covid, the State has already thrust itself into every corner of our existence.


It has come between husbands and wives at the ends of their lives. It has forbidden the old to embrace their grandchildren.


It has denied us funerals and weddings, locked the churches, silenced the ancient monastic music of cathedral choirs and prevented the free worship of God for the first time in 800 years, and banned us (unless we are Left-wing) from holding or attending public meetings.


It has ordered us to stay at home, scolded or fined us for sunbathing, going on country rambles or even entering our front gardens.


It has forced millions of us to stop working, sabotaged the educations – at school and university – of untold numbers of young people and has become our boss and paymaster in the biggest state takeover of life and work ever attempted by non-Communists.


Soon we will discover that it has also wrecked an already wobbly economy and separated untold numbers of us from jobs and businesses we thought were safe. Soon, too, it will also separate us from our savings, through punishing tax and savage inflation, to pay for the disaster it has caused.


Now it presumes to tell us what to wear. And what it wants us to wear is a soggy cloth muzzle, a face-nappy that turns its wearer from a normal human into a mumbling, mouthless submissive.


And this, it seems, is popular. Is there nothing the modern British people will not put up with? Britain's muzzle consumption is now so high that six months from now there will be reports of dolphins and whales floundering about in an ocean made sticky by millions of gallons of hand-sanitiser, as they choke on congealed clumps of used muzzles.


These items are set to become the new plastic bags. Why is this frenzy taking place?


Here is a clue. On July 12, Deborah Cohen, the medical correspondent of BBC2's Newsnight, revealed an astonishing thing. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had reversed its advice on face masks, from "don't wear them" to "do wear them".


But the key fact was that it had not done so because of scientific information – the evidence had not backed the wearing of face coverings – but because of political lobbying.


She revealed on Twitter that: "We had been told by various sources [that the] WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying." She said the BBC had then put this to the WHO, which did not deny it.


In March, the WHO had said: "There is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can protect them from infection with respiratory viruses, including Covid-19."


The American TV news channel CNN reported on March 31 that Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies programme, had said at a briefing in Geneva: "There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there's some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly."


A few weeks ago, the WHO changed its advice to say it "advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments."


Earlier that same month, England's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, had said that wearing face masks would do little to combat the outbreak.


While noting that if someone was infected, they might reduce the danger of spreading the disease by covering their faces, Prof Whitty said wearing a face mask had almost no effect on reducing the risk of contracting the illness.

He stated: "In terms of wearing a mask, our advice is clear: that wearing a mask if you don't have an infection reduces the risk almost not at all. So we do not advise that."


Also in March, the Advertising Standards Authority banned two firms' advertisements for masks, saying that the adverts were "misleading, irresponsible and likely to cause fear without justifiable reason".


At about the same time, Dr Jenny Harries, a Deputy Chief Medical Officer, warned that people could be putting themselves more at risk from contracting Covid by wearing muzzles. She said masks could "actually trap the virus", and cause the person wearing it to breathe it in. She explained: "For the average member of the public walking down a street, it is not a good idea."


On April 3, the other Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said he did not believe healthy people wearing them would reduce the spread of the disease in the UK.


The British Government has also zig-zagged. As recently as June 24, in a series of official pamphlets for reopening shops and services, the Department for Business and Enterprise said repeatedly: "The evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small."


This was true at the time and it is still true. The evidence is indeed weak. There is plenty of research showing that the case for muzzles is poor, especially a survey done for the dental profession four years ago, which quietly vanished from the internet after mask opponents began to cite it.


The scientific papers in favour of muzzling are full of weak, hesitant words such as "probably, "could" and "may" – which can equally well be expressed as "probably not", "could not" or "may not".


There has not been any great discovery in the past few days.


Generally, the main way of discovering if something works is the Randomised Control Trial (RCT), in which the proposed treatment or method is tested directly and thoroughly.


This hasn't been done with muzzles, probably because it would be a bit difficult and possibly because muzzle zealots fear the results would not help their case.


Amazingly, the chief spokesman for science in this country, who should surely support proper rigour, has dismissed such RCTs.


Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, sneered at "inappropriate" RCTs as "methodological fetishism". He did this while advocating more compulsory muzzle-wearing when he appeared on Radio 4's Today programme on July 7 – as the political lobbying for muzzles intensified.


All that has changed is the politics. Why are they changing? Interestingly, Health Secretary Matt Hancock's muzzle edict was the first action by the London Government which actually copied a move made by Nicola Sturgeon's extremely Left-wing Edinburgh administration.


There are many signs that it has not been thought through, at least by scientists.


Why are we more likely to spread Covid in a shop than we are to do so in a pub or restaurant? The question cannot be answered.


What evidence there is certainly suggests that the risk of transmission is greater if we linger longer, but the Government does not dare close down the catering trade again, because it would be wildly unpopular and because these businesses are on the point of bankruptcy – and such an action would shut them.


The truth is that the muzzle policy is all about power and fear.


The Government began its wild, disproportionate shutdown of the country by spreading fear of a devastating plague that would destroy the NHS and kill untold thousands.
Now, as many people find that Covid-19 is, in fact, nothing of the kind, new ways have to be found to keep up the alarm levels.


One was exposed on Friday by the superb scientists of the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. Puzzled by the way that Covid death figures in England continued to pour in, while they had all but ceased in Scotland, they looked at the figures from Public Health England (PHE).


And they found, in their own devastating words



"It seems that PHE regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not."


"PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the Covid test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community. Anyone who has tested Covid positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE Covid death figures."


"By this PHE definition, no one with Covid in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but been successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a Covid death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later."



This problem would be avoided by having a simple cut-off, where those who tested positive more than 28 days ago were no longer counted as Covid deaths. Scotland does this. That is why its figures are lower.


Findings are now also pouring in which suggest that a horribly high number of the excess deaths during the last few months were not caused by Covid, but by people failing to seek treatment for heart attacks, strokes and cancer.


Despite the propagandists of the BBC, which has tried as hard as it can never to mention the legions of dissenting scientists who dispute the Government's policy, people are beginning to wonder, in increasing numbers, if they might have been taken for a ride.


This Government has no great authority. It is a Cabinet of undistinguished, inexperienced unknowns, headed by an exhausted and empty Prime Minister whose sparkle, such as it was, is fast fading.


In a few weeks time, the Government faces the onset of what may be the worst economic crisis since 1929. It needs to keep the fear levels up to maintain its authority.


One way of doing this is the ceaseless promotion of an alleged "second wave" of Covid, for which there is no evidence.


Another is to undertake a ferocious testing policy. This is now happening in Leicester where testers go from door to door to discover people who are "infected" with Covid, even if they have no symptoms (which is usually the case) and are perfectly healthy. Then they can raise the alarm and close down the city.


But muzzling the populace is even better. People such as me, who think Ministers' response to the virus is wildly out of proportion, have until now been able to live amid the propaganda, trying to stay sane.


But the muzzle is a badge of subservience and submission. Anyone who dons it publicly is agreeing to the Government's crazy assessment of the level of danger.


Societies in which citizens are discouraged from speaking out against the regime, as this has become, are pretty disgraceful. But countries where the citizens are compelled to endorse the opinion of the state are a serious step further down the path to totalitarianism.


It is even worse than that.


Look at the muzzled multitudes, their wide eyes peering out anxiously from above the hideous gag which obscures half their faces and turns them from normal human beings into mouthless, obedient submissives.


The psychological effect of these garments, on those who wear them, is huge.


And it also has another nasty result for society as a whole.


Dissenters, who prefer not to muzzle themselves, are made to stand out from the surrendered majority, who then become quite keen on pressuring the non-conformists to do as they are told, and on informing against them.


I predicted the same outcome during the House Arrest period in April, and was mocked for it, but it came true.


When all this began, I felt fear. But it was not fear of the disease, which was clearly overstated from the start.


It was fear of exactly what is happening to us, the final closing down of centuries of human liberty and the transformation of one of the freest countries on Earth into a regimented, conformist society, under perpetual surveillance, in which a subservient people scurries about beneath the stern gaze of authority.


It is my view that, if you don that muzzle, you are giving your assent to that change.

Peter Hitchens column in The Mail on Sunday


I don't know what to think myself.

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20 minutes ago, ChelseaBoy said:

For every scientist/columnist/pundit espousing the use of masks/lockdown I expect there are just as many arguing against their effectiveness. 

Perhaps if we had some randomized control trials then we could be confident about the effectiveness of masks.


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39 minutes ago, ranger_syntax said:

Perhaps if we had some randomized control trials then we could be confident about the effectiveness of masks.


Yes that would have been useful 4 months back when lockdown was starting, but making it compulsory from 24th July just shows the science is just as confused as the populace.

Edited by ChelseaBoy
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2 hours ago, Gonzo79 said:

Bill says those of us who question the benefits of wearing masks need to listen to adults.


Is Peter Hitchens a child?

You really shouldn't get so triggered by this. It's not a good look. Peter Hitchens is a good bloke but I wouldn't hold him up as an authority on mask wearing. Oh, neither you are.

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Hitchens constant reference to muzzles is instructive.  Deliberately emotive language to provoke a response, to sow the seeds of doubt.


Whereas, the sober reality is that its just common sense, and science backs it up.





Scientists say we should wear masks to control the spread of COVID-19. Stanford experts share the evidence that informed the World Health Organization’s recommendations.

JUN 19 2020

A video produced for the World Health Organization explains source control in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Larry Chu and Amy Price

On June 5, the World Health Organization revised its guidelines about when people should wear cloth masks. Previously, the organization had recommended that only those with symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, or those caring for them, wear cloth masks over the nose and mouth. 

On June 18, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order requiring people to wear masks in most public spaces.

The new guidelines recommend that everyone who comes in close contact with others in crowded or close quarters, such as on a bus or in a store, wear a cloth mask composed of at least three different layers of material. People 60 or older, or those with underlying health conditions, should wear medical masks, such as surgical masks, in public, and physicians and health care providers should wear medical masks in all areas of a hospital, even if the area in which they are working has no COVID-19 patients, according to the organization.

The new guidelines were devised after WHO officials reviewed information from researchers at Stanford and elsewhere about the ability of cloth masks to slow the spread of the disease, which has now infected more than 8 million people worldwide and caused more than 400,000 deaths.

The revised recommendations more closely echo those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which since early April has recommended cloth masks in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Science writer Krista Conger spoke with two Stanford researchers involved in the change to the WHO guidelines: Amy Price, PhD, a senior research scientist at Stanford’s Anesthesia Informatics and Media Laboratory, and Larry Chu, MD, a professor of anesthesia and director of the AIM Laboratory. They recently co-authored an article in Nanotechnology Letters assessing the filtering and breathability of various household fabrics often used to make masks.

 1. How do cloth face coverings prevent the spread of COVID-19? 

Chu: In order to answer this, it’s first important to understand the concept of source control. We’ve learned that as many as 40% of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 may have no symptoms. But when they talk, cough or sneeze, they can still spread the virus to others in the form of respiratory droplets expelled into the air. Those droplets evaporate into fine particles that may linger. The mask traps these larger droplets before they can evaporate. So, wearing a mask regularly can prevent spreading at the source even when we don’t know we are sick. But masks are just one important way to prevent this disease from spreading. Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and keeping at least 6 feet apart from one another are still vitally important.  

Price: Many people argue that cloth masks can’t be effective because they can’t filter out viral particles, which are extremely tiny. But, as Larry explained, most of these particles leave the mouth and nose in much larger droplets that become smaller through evaporation as they move away from the body. Trapping droplets with the mask means not nearly as many viral particles escape. So, when all parties in a gathering are wearing well-constructed, well-fitting masks, it provides an extra layer of safety for everyone. If two people are wearing masks, the viral particles can travel about 5 feet away from each individual. When an infected person is not wearing a mask, those particles can floatthrough the air 30 feet or more and stay alive for up to 30 hours.

2. How do you respond to people who feel that wearing a mask can be harmful?

Price: I’ve heard so many misconceptions about cloth masks. Some people think that if you wear a mask for long periods of time you will trap and breathe in excess amounts of carbon dioxide, which could lead to brain damage. That’s just not true. A properly constructed mask provides more than enough ventilation. In fact, one way to test if your mask is well made is to try to blow out a candle through the mask from about 1 foot away. If you can’t do so, your mask might be too tightly woven. Other people feel that wearing a mask encourages people to touch their face and to loosen their adherence to other safety precautions like social distancing and hand washing. We’ve found the opposite. Wearing a mask reminds people to continue to be cautious. With a mask on, you actually touch your face less. People who experience skin irritation should ensure their mask has a layer of wicking fabric, like cotton, against the face, and everyone should change the mask if it becomes wet or dirty. Finally, it’s been suggested that mask-wearing may increase the concentration of viral particles around an infected person’s mouth and could increase the severity of the illness. While it’s true that some studies of health care workers have suggested that the viral dose is an important determinant of infection, it’s different for someone who is already infected. If you are sick, you already have the virus in your lungs; it’s not going to get any worse. 

3. What’s the best way to make and use a mask? 

Chu: Our studies show that, if constructed properly with high-quality materials, a homemade cloth mask can function as well as or better than a surgical mask. Based on our studies, the WHO now recommends a cloth mask of at least three layers of different materials. The outermost layer should be made of a fabric that is at least somewhat water resistant. That can be a fabric that is a combination of cotton and polyester, nylon or rayon. The middle layer should either be a polypropylene — a spunbond material used in some reusable grocery bags, mattress covers and craft projects — or three-ply disposable facial tissues like Kleenex. Finally, the innermost layer should be a wicking material to draw moisture away from the face. One hundred percent soft cotton works well here. 

Larry Chu narrates a video on the best nonmedical mask materials.
Larry Chu and Amy Price

Fit is also important. It shouldn’t fit too tightly, but it should sit against the skin all the way around from the middle of your nose to under your chin and almost to your ears, and it shouldn’t gape or bulge away when you move your head or speak. 

 Finally, treat your mask like your toothbrush. Don’t share it with anyone, and keep it in a plastic Ziploc bag when not in use. When you remove it, do so in a way that doesn’t spread germs from the front of the mask to your face, and wash your hands after touching the mask.  

 4. What does it mean to charge a mask? Does it work for all materials? How is it accomplished? 

Price: When we began researching cloth masks, we realized there was not a lot of evidence about their effectiveness when used as source control in a community setting. We collaborated with some phenomenal materials scientists here at Stanford, including Nobel laureate Steven Chu, PhD, and Yi Cui, PhD, to conduct a study of the effectiveness of various readily available household fabrics, including cotton, polyester, polypropylene, nylon and silk. We found we could make some materials as effective as a surgical mask by charging them with static electricity by rubbing them with latex gloves for 30 seconds prior to use. A similar approach is used in the construction of medical protective equipment, including surgical masks and N95 respirators. Overall, charging masks can increase their efficiency by as much as 30%, and the effect can last for many hours.

 5. If everyone wore a face mask in public, what would it accomplish?

Chu: The timing of these new recommendations is critically important. Across the country, communities are beginning to end shelter-in-place and to return to work and community settings. Nonmedical face masks will become an increasingly important way, in conjunction with frequent hand washing and social distancing, to prevent the resurgence of disease.  

Price: We know that during the first wave of the pandemic, those countries that implemented masking early were more successful than others at reducing the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask doesn’t mean that you are weak or afraid or a coward. It’s a way to protect the vulnerable around you. It’s our duty to keep each other healthy.


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On 20/07/2020 at 12:00, stewarty said:

Hitchens constant reference to muzzles is instructive.  Deliberately emotive language to provoke a response, to sow the seeds of doubt.


Whereas, the sober reality is that its just common sense, and science backs it up.



Did you read the research that this article links to?

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