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What is the truth about face masks?

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The interesting question is how effective are facemasks as a way to hinder the spread of covid 19?


People are keen to talk about anything but that.


A second interesting question might also follow on from this. Why do people invest so much in defence of, or opposition to, any measure without persuasive evidence?

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There is still an active debate to be had in scientific circles.  This article in the BMJ argues that the Danish study supported that wearing a mask does reduce the likelihood of infection, rather than the negative slant that appeared to be taken in the Spectator piece.


"Given the estimated 60 million SARS-CoV-2 infections worldwide, the DANMASK-19 trial’s finding of an 18% reduction in the infection rate among mask wearers is of enormous potential public health importance. The theoretical benefits of masks are even larger, given that DANMASK-19 was a pragmatic trial in a low incidence population and that a substantial number of participants did not fully comply with the intervention. Moreover, as has been said, this trial examined only one half of any potential benefit of masks—does it protect the wearer?—and did not consider any possible benefit in reduced transmission of infection to others"

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52 minutes ago, stewarty said:

... Moreover, as has been said, this trial examined only one half of any potential benefit of masks—does it protect the wearer?—and did not consider any possible benefit in reduced transmission of infection to others"

Are there any studies, that is to say evidence, about the benefits for others?

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In a world where billions (billions!) of people live their lives according to some religious, cultural or political code, I think we can safely say that the existence or absence of "evidence" isn't something that particularly troubles people in general. So to be fretting over evidence of face mask efficacy has always struck me as fairly trivial. 


People can be quite pathetically weak. Clearly intelligent people will swallow the most awful crap if it panders to their fears and prejudices, which should tell you that even when people are intellectually strong, their psychological weaknesses will trump logic almost every time. Face masks? Most will simply ignore, deny or re-invent whatever facts there are, while thumping the drum about the conclusiveness or absence of "evidence". In the era of post-truth, everything is black ad everything is white but nothing can be grey. 


The only sure antidote to the madness is to form your own opinion and keep it to yourself. As soon as you try to sell it to other people it, it starts to lose credibility. Wear a face mask or don't wear a face mask but don't take a position based on what other people say. If you can justify it to yourself that's all you can do but be honest about what you decide.


Edited by Bill
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2 hours ago, ranger_syntax said:

Are there any studies, that is to say evidence, about the benefits for others?

Not sure, tbh. I just remembered discussion about this Danish study  before and googled some critique of it to try and figure out what the deal is.  


Clearly an area where further research would be beneficial but personally I've read enough to give it the benefit of the doubt for the time being.


Edit: benefit of the doubt, as in, I think its a common sense and easy precaution and I'll wear one until its proven to not be effective.

Edited by stewarty
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  • 4 weeks later...

Just sayin'.........


Coronavirus in Scotland: Mask refuseniks ‘are less happy and more lonely’

Mark McLaughlin

Tuesday December 29 2020, 12.01am, The Times




People who refuse to wear facemasks are more likely to be mentally ill, according to Scottish scientists who found that those who wear masks are generally happier.

People who wear masks in public all or most of the time have better mental wellbeing than those who do not, psychologists and public health experts said. Mask refuseniks were 67 per cent more likely to feel lonely, 60 per cent more likely to be dissatisfied with life, 58 per cent more likely to be anxious and 25 per cent more likely to be depressed.


Anti-mask protests have taken place throughout the world, including a “family ceilidh” outside the Scottish parliament last month organised by groups uniting under the banners “Scotland Against Lockdown” and “Saving Scotland”.


Experts from Edinburgh and Stirling universities conducted research to determine whether complaints from anti-maskers about “physical discomfort, communication difficulties, or stigmatisation” were common among the general population. They surveyed 11,000 people in the UK and found no direct link between face coverings and the general rise in loneliness, anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

The study states: “There may be something about wearing a face covering that makes people feel safer and reassured that they are ‘doing the right thing’ for themselves and their community. Wearing face coverings in public can protect others from contracting coronavirus infections but high uptake is necessary and voluntary policy does not appear to meet these thresholds.

“Our findings countermand speculation that face coverings may have a negative effect on mental health and wellbeing.”


The Saving Scotland website includes a section entitled “Masks — The Science” with excerpts from scientific journals showing a link between wearing masks and decreased oxygen levels.

It also includes a section on “Electromagnetic field dangers” with guidance on the “dangers of cell phones” and claims that 5G technology damages DNA, blood cells and brain function, reduces the sleep hormone melatonin and increases stress proteins.

The UK government dismissed a “crazed conspiracy theory” that 5G causes coronavirus after vandalism of mobile phone masts threatened to disrupt 999 calls.


There have been new calls to extend the requirement to wear masks in enclosed public spaces to include wearing them outdoors amid fears that a variant of Covid-19 is circulating that is up to 90 per cent more infectious.


The Scottish Academy, which represents the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, issued a joint statement calling for mask wearing to be extended. It said: “We are calling for social distancing to be two metres at all times and for masks to be worn in any situation where you are meeting people who are not in your household or bubble — indoors or outdoors.”

Mike Griffin, of the Royal College of Surgeons, said it “would be crazy” not to take every possible step to reduce infections during the winter.



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