Discover more from Empowered!
I informed you thusly: Part 1
I hate to say 'I told you so' but I #$%^ING TOLD YOU SO!
Back in the days when we still owned a television, my family and I used to enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory. This miniseries of important tidbits from current events in Clown World is named in honour of Sheldon Cooper’s immortal line from ‘The 21-Second Excitation’:
(Just as an aside, there’s a fascinating rabbit-hole you could go down regarding Zangen Pharmaceuticals, the drug company that The Big Bang Theory's Bernadette and Penny work for. For starters, there’s the name, which is shared with an Iron Cross-decorated Nazi general. And then there’s Bernadette’s disarmingly ingenuous revelations of Zangen’s involvement in mutating viruses to cross the species barrier, crossing Ebola with a common cold virus, and conducting unethical human experimentation. Is this merely dark humour, is it a confession, or is it predictive programming?)
But enough about The Big Bang Theory. Let’s run through ‘This Week in I Told You So’.
‘I Informed You Thusly’#1: Masks Don’t Work
I told you that there is no reliable scientific evidence that face masks stop or even reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses, on multiple occasions. Ian Miller produced so many charts showing that neither cloth masks, nor N95s reduce case or death rates, no matter how high the compliance rates, that eventually he literally wrote the book on it. Paul Alexander compiled over 170 studies and articles demonstrating the ineffectiveness of masks for preventing respiratory virus transmission and illness, as well as the harms of masking.
And now, the latest Cochrane Review on Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses has confirmed what every previous Cochrane Review on the subject had found: masks don’t work when worn in the community. ‘In the community’ means outside of a healthcare setting – that is, people conducting their ordinary business, with no access to fit testing, and neither training in proper donning and doffing procedures nor the capacity to follow them. It’s also very likely that N95/P2 respirators don’t work, even when worn by properly-trained health care workers in settings that support correct use.
(For those not familiar with Cochrane, it is the pre-eminent organisation for assessing the evidence base for medical and public health practice. Cochrane’s integrity and independence has been compromised in the last few years by its acceptance of donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which ultimately led to the expulsion of one of its prominent members, Peter Gøtzsche.
Hence, Cochrane reviews are not as reliable as they used to be. It’s important to check the authorship of each review. The lead author of the mask review is Tom Jefferson, a stalwart defender of scientific integrity. Investigative journalists Maryanne Demasi and Paul Thacker have recently conducted interviews with Tom Jefferson, which are well worth reading as companion pieces to this post. Jefferson makes a particularly interesting revelation in the Demasi interview: the Cochrane organisation held up the publication of the previous update to this ongoing review, which was due to be published in early 2020, for seven months, in which time mask mandates had been imposed all over the world despite a total lack of evidence for their efficacy.)
Here are the chief findings of the Cochrane review:
1. Masks don’t work to reduce symptoms of respiratory illness:
“Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of influenza‐like illness (ILI)/COVID‐19 like illness compared to not wearing masks (risk ratio (RR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84 to 1.09; 9 trials, 276,917 participants; moderate‐certainty evidence.”
(Note that while the risk ratio of 0.95 suggests that mask wearing may reduce symptoms of respiratory illness by 5 per cent, the confidence interval includes 0, meaning that there is a good chance that there is is no difference between wearing and not wearing a mask.)
2. Masks don’t work to reduce lab-confirmed flu or COVID:
“Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of laboratory‐confirmed influenza/SARS‐CoV‐2 compared to not wearing masks (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.42; 6 trials, 13,919 participants; moderate‐certainty evidence).”
(Once again, the confidence interval includes zero.)
3. N95/P2 respirators don’t appear to work any better than cloth or surgical masks when it comes to preventing illness symptoms. There’s a slight signal of benefit, but the studies are too poorly-designed and reported to have confidence in them, and their results were all over the map:
“We are very uncertain on the effects of N95/P2 respirators compared with medical/surgical masks on the outcome of clinical respiratory illness (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.10; 3 trials, 7779 participants; very low‐certainty evidence). N95/P2 respirators compared with medical/surgical masks may be effective for ILI (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.03; 5 trials, 8407 participants; low‐certainty evidence). Evidence is limited by imprecision and heterogeneity for these subjective outcomes.”
4. N95/P2 respirators don’t work any better than cloth masks when it comes to preventing influenza, whether in the general public or healthcare workers:
“The use of a N95/P2 respirators compared to medical/surgical masks probably makes little or no difference for the objective and more precise outcome of laboratory‐confirmed influenza infection (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.34; 5 trials, 8407 participants; moderate‐certainty evidence). Restricting pooling to healthcare workers made no difference to the overall findings.”
In short, masks don’t work. And I told you so.
Sneak preview of Part 2 of this miniseries: Teflon Tony Fauci admits that COVID and flu vaccines don’t work, and he knew along why they don’t. Stay tuned :).
Empowered! is a reader-supported publication. Paid subscriptions help me to continue this work. All readership is greatly appreciated. Please share this post widely.