Public Health Measures like Mask Mandates Lead to Unintended and Unpredictable Outcomes
After months and months of covid tyranny, nearly forty states and many more localities continue to push mandatory mask wearing in the US. Shortly after his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed a set of executive orders that require mask wearing on all federal lands, as well as in airports, buses, and trains. This brand of state paternalism should be cause for much concern—not only because it infringes on man’s natural rights, but also because the state has proven incapable at making people any safer. In fact, it has invariably made them less safe.
Mask Efficacy: “Settled Science”?
The chorus of technocrats and corporate media repeatedly pushes the same line—that the benefits of mandatory mask orders are “settled science.” In defense of their claims, they’ll often cite a litany of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies, with the intent of shutting down all further discussion. However, most of the studies they reference fail to decouple important variables or don’t analyze masks outside a laboratory setting, so their alleged “facts,” in short, don’t prove much of anything. The debate around mask efficacy is actually far more nuanced. In fact, a lot of the more relevant studies suggest that most masks may be only marginally beneficial in slowing the spread of covid.
A 2017 meta-analysis studying mitigation tactics against pandemic influenza found that “facemask [sic] use was not significantly protective” overall, but “that regular hand hygiene was” (emphasis added). Since covid is, like influenza, a viral respiratory illness, this finding may be relevant to the present pandemic. Still, masks are not homogenous, and the efficacy of masks may hinge, in large part, on the type being considered.
For instance, repeated studies have indicated that makeshift masks, such as bandanas, may be only slightly effective in preventing particle intake. Researchers recommend that they only be used as a “last resort,” even though they’ve been very common during the present pandemic. Some other types of masks don’t fare too much better in the literature. According to one study, cloth masks are “only marginally beneficial in protecting individuals from particlesμm” like SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for the covid disease). In a commentary on the available data, Drs. Lisa Brosseau and Margaret Sietsema wrote that “cloth masks exhibit very low filter efficiency” and should not be used by either healthcare workers or the general public.
There’s similar pessimism to be had about surgical masks as well. Unfortunately, neither of the two studies that looked at surgical mask use in nonmedical settings was able to formally conclude anything. Both urged further research, although neither did find a statistically significant benefit to the masks. Actually, several studies have found that even in a medical setting surgical masks are ineffective at preventing the infection of patient wounds and protecting healthcare workers. Beyond surgical masks, though, the “gold standard” for valetudinarians has been N95 respirators. A pair of studies conducted in 2017 concluded that N95s may be more protective than surgical masks (though a more recent study found no significant difference between the two). In any case, N95s are almost always unfitted and worn improperly in general public use, even by the admission of the CDC, which casts doubt on their alleged superiority.
Masks and Nothing Else
A systematic review published by Cambridge University Press contained the following nugget: “[A]ny mask, no matter how efficient at filtration or how good the seal, will have minimal
Article from Mises Wire