Articles critical of the medical efficacy of masks

(1) Little evidence supports the use of masks
(2) Masks Do “More Damage To The Children” Than COVID: Belgian Academy For Medicine
(3) Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy
(4) Masking Children: Tragic, Unscientific, and Damaging

There are numerous other articles both for and against the use of masks, from a medical standpoint. In my opinion, masks are less about disease prevention than they are symbols of submission. This is because Covid-19 is not really a medical emergency as much as a political phenomenon. Mask mandates are political tools for imposing authoritarianism. See my article on the reasons why this is not really about public health.

(1) Little evidence supports use of masks

by Zachary Stieber, The Epoch Times, Nov. 15, 2021

Cloth masks are of little use against COVID-19, according to a recently published analysis.

Federal health authorities and a slew of jurisdictions require or recommend wearing masks as a way to limit spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

But a trio of researchers pored over the studies often cited by the officials and found they were poorly designed and offered scant evidence supporting mask usage.

Many of the studies are observational, opening them up to confounding variables, the researchers said in their analysis (pdf), which was published on Nov. 8 by the Cato Institute.

Of 16 randomized controlled trials comparing mask effectiveness to controls with no masks, 14 failed to find a statistically significant benefit, the researchers said. And of 16 quantitative meta-analyses, half showed weak evidence of mask effectiveness while the others were “were equivocal or critical as to whether evidence supports a public recommendation of masks,” they added.

“The biggest takeaway is that more than 100 years of attempts to prove that masks are beneficial has produced a large volume of mostly low-quality evidence that has generally failed to demonstrate their value in most settings,” Dr. Jonathan Darrow, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“Officials mulling mask recommendations should turn their attention to interventions with larger and more certain benefits, such as vaccines. Based on the evidence currently available, masks are mostly a distraction from the important work of promoting the public health,” he added.

One widely-cited study (pdf) by mask proponents, of rural villages in Bangladesh, found that surgical masks appeared to be marginally effective in reducing symptomatic COVID-19 but that cloth masks did not, Darrow and his colleagues noted.

The other real-world randomized controlled trial examining mask effectiveness, conducted in Denmark, did not find a statistically significant difference in infections between the masked and unmasked groups.

“The remainder of the available clinical evidence is primarily limited to non-randomized observational data, which are subject to confounding,” the researchers said, including accounting for other differences in behavior among those who don’t wear masks.

They did say that there is evidence masks reduce droplet dispersion, though cloth masks are unlikely to capture the particles even if worn properly.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers cannot wait for higher-quality evidence to support masking, but from an ethical standpoint, they should “refrain from portraying the evidence as stronger than it actually is,” the researchers concluded.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. The CCP virus is also known as the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2.

Some outside experts’ views align with the researchers, including Dr. Martin Kulldorff, senior scientific director of the Brownstone Institute.

“The truth is that there has been only two randomized trials of masks for COVID. One was in Denmark, which showed that they might be slightly beneficial, they might be slightly harmful, we don’t really know—the confidence interval kind of crossed zero,” he said.

“And then there was another study from Bangladesh where they randomized villagers to masks or no masks. And the efficacy of the masks was for reduction of COVID was something between zero and 18 percent. So either no effect or very minuscule effect.”

Some experts, though, say the existing evidence does support masking recommendations, and several reacted strongly to the new analysis.

The analysis drew some pushback, including from Kimberly Prather, director of the National Science Foundation Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment.

Prather noted on Twitter that researchers said masks reduce the amount of virus in the air and believed that ran counter to their conclusions.

Darrow responded by saying the amount of virus in the air was a surrogate, not a clinical endpoint.

“The amount of pathogen in air (to be inhaled) directly determines the dose. This is directly linked to risk,” Prather added. “Or can you explain how less virus in the air could be higher risk? It’s equivalent to saying that less pathogen in drinking water is higher risk so don’t filter water.”

“If the theory diverges from what you see in real life, which one do you believe?” Darrow said.

(2) Masks Do “More Damage To The Children” Than COVID: Belgian Academy For Medicine

by Arjun Walia, Oct. 11, 2021

The Facts:

The official body that coordinates Belgium’s various paediatric organizations has called for the current coronavirus measures to be dropped in schools for children under 12 years old.

According to them, these measures are more harmful for a child than acquiring a COVID infection.

Reflect On:Should governments have the authority to mandate medical interventions on the population when it opposes the will of so many people? Why have we given governments so much power?

Take a breath. Release the tension in your body. Place attention on your physical heart. Breathe slowly into the area for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Belgische Academie voor Geneeskunde (Belgian Academy for Medicine), the official body that coordinates Belgium’s various paediatric organizations, has called for all coronavirus measures to be dropped in schools for children under the age of 12.

A group of paediatricians representing the academy oppose testing, quarantining and mask-wearing for this age group. According to them, “Testing children, imposing mouth masks and quarantine go against the principle of ‘primum non nocere’ (first, do no harm) which is included in the Hippocratic Oath that doctors took.”

The paediatricians supported their stance with a number of reasons, and claim that “These drastic actions do much more damage to the children in the short and long term than going through the infection itself.”

The mask has become so politicized that it prevents rational consideration of the evidence (even across political lines) and drives levels of acrimony, invidious actions, disdain, and villainy among wearers to each other who feel threatened by the individual who will not or cannot wear a mask. 

Masking Children: Tragic, Unscientific, and DamagingDr. Paul E. Alexander.

Is the idea that masks may be dangerous in any way, shape, or form expressed in scientific literature? Yes, it is. For example, a large meta-analysis published in the Journal Environmental Research and Public Health titled, “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?” looked at 65 studies pertaining to prolonged mask-wearing to examine whether or not there may be any health consequences.

The study expressed, explained, and presented evidence for their claim that “extended mask-wearing by the general population could lead to relevant effects and consequences in many medical fields.” It pointed out a number of physiological and psychological concerns and emphasized the harm that could be done to children.

An argument for masking children is because they are considered super-spreaders of the virus, but again, science calling this into question has been ignored, while science showing it has been given the utmost attention.

While many studies suggest pre-symptomatic/asymptomatic spread may comprise less than 40% of vertical transmission, numerous large observational population studies show that children are POOR COVID-19 spreaders.

This includes studies from Ireland, Iceland, Italy, France, and Australia. For a link to a more complete reference list, see Washington University Pediatric & Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium.

More data from around the globe has pointed to the fact that children in this age group, if infected, have a 99.997 percent chance of surviving infection. If infected with COVID-19, children ages 0-9 have on average a chance of 0.1% or 1/1000 of being hospitalized and, for ages 11-19 a 0.2% or 1/500 chance of being admitted to the hospital (Herrera-Esposito, 2021).

In the USA, UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and South Korea, deaths from COVID-19 in children remained rare up to February 2021 (ie, up to the time the study had available data about), at 0.17 per 100 000 population.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also confirmed that while the Delta variant is infecting more children, it is not causing increased disease severity. They also found that 0.1-1.9% of their child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalizations, and 0.00-0.03% of all child COVID-19 case resulted in death.

At the end of the day, there seems to be legitimate concerns from people at both ends of the spectrum. The issue here is that mainstream media and government health authorities only seem to be presenting one side of the coin to the public, while simultaneously engaging in a massive censorship campaign to remove content from the internet, via social media platforms, that calls government recommendations and mandates into question.

Hundreds of millions of pieces of content relating to COVID, have already been removed or had warning labels put on them. Science has been caught in this dragnet of censorship.

It’s not to say that mask-wearing, vaccines, quarantine, and more are wrong, but mandating these measures is not taking all the science into account. Things are not black and white, and when this is the case, recommendations and encouragement may be more useful tools instead of coercion.

Related article of interest: 3 Science-Based Reasons Why Many Parents Won’t Vaccinate Their Children Against COVID

(3) Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy

by Denis G. Rancourt, PhD

Masks and respirators do not work.

There have been extensive randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies, and meta-analysis reviews of RCT studies, which all show that masks and respirators do not work to prevent respiratory influenza-like illnesses, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles.

Furthermore, the relevant known physics and biology, which I review, are such that masks and respirators should not work. It would be a paradox if masks and respirators worked, given what we know about viral respiratory diseases: The main transmission path is long-residence-time aerosol particles (< 2.5 μm), which are too fine to be blocked, and the minimum-infective dose is smaller than one aerosol particle.

The present paper about masks illustrates the degree to which governments, the mainstream media, and institutional propagandists can decide to operate in a science vacuum, or select only incomplete science that serves their interests. Such recklessness is also certainly the case with the current global lockdown of over 1 billion people, an unprecedented experiment in medical and political history.

Review of the Medical Literature
Here are key anchor points to the extensive scientific literature that establishes that wearing surgical masks and respirators (e.g., “N95”) does not reduce the risk of contracting a verified illness:

Jacobs, J. L. et al. (2009) “Use of surgical face masks to reduce the incidence of the common cold among health care workers in Japan: A randomized controlled trial,” American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 37, Issue 5, 417 – 419.

N95-masked health-care workers (HCW) were significantly more likely to experience headaches. Face mask use in HCW was not demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds.

Cowling, B. et al. (2010) “Face masks to prevent transmission of influenza virus: A systematic review,” Epidemiology and Infection, 138(4), 449-456.

None of the studies reviewed showed a benefit from wearing a mask, in either HCW or community members in households (H). See summary Tables 1 and 2 therein.

bin-Reza et al. (2012) “The use of masks and respirators to prevent transmission of influenza: a systematic review of the scientific evidence,” Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 6(4), 257–267. 

“There were 17 eligible studies. … None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”

Smith, J.D. et al. (2016) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks in protecting health care workers from acute respiratory infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” CMAJ Mar 2016.

“We identified six clinical studies … In the meta-analysis of the clinical studies, we found no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks in associated risk of (a) laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, (b) influenza-like illness, or (c) reported work-place absenteeism.”

Offeddu, V. et al. (2017) “Effectiveness of Masks and Respirators Against Respiratory Infections in Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 65, Issue 11, 1 December 2017, Pages 1934–1942.

“Self-reported assessment of clinical outcomes was prone to bias. Evidence of a protective effect of masks or respirators against verified respiratory infection (VRI) was not statistically significant”; as per Fig. 2c therein: 

Radonovich, L.J. et al. (2019) “N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” JAMA. 2019; 322(9): 824–833.

“Among 2862 randomized participants, 2371 completed the study and accounted for 5180 HCW-seasons. … Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

Long, Y. et al. (2020) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” J Evid Based Med. 2020; 1- 9.

“A total of six RCTs involving 9,171 participants were included. There were no statistically significant differences in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza, laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, and influenza-like illness using N95 respirators and surgical masks. Meta-analysis indicated a protective effect of N95 respirators against laboratory-confirmed bacterial colonization (RR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.43-0.78). The use of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks is not associated with a lower risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

Conclusion Regarding That Masks Do Not Work
No RCT study with verified outcome shows a benefit for HCW or community members in households to wearing a mask or respirator. There is no such study. There are no exceptions.

Likewise, no study exists that shows a benefit from a broad policy to wear masks in public (more on this below).

Furthermore, if there were any benefit to wearing a mask, because of the blocking power against droplets and aerosol particles, then there should be more benefit from wearing a respirator (N95) compared to a surgical mask, yet several large meta-analyses, and all the RCT, prove that there is no such relative benefit.

Masks and respirators do not work.

Precautionary Principle Turned on Its Head with Masks
In light of the medical research, therefore, it is difficult to understand why public-health authorities are not consistently adamant about this established scientific result, since the distributed psychological, economic, and environmental harm from a broad recommendation to wear masks is significant, not to mention the unknown potential harm from concentration and distribution of pathogens on and from used masks. In this case, public authorities would be turning the precautionary principle on its head (see below).

Physics and Biology of Viral Respiratory Disease and of Why Masks Do Not Work
In order to understand why masks cannot possibly work, we must review established knowledge about viral respiratory diseases, the mechanism of seasonal variation of excess deaths from pneumonia and influenza, the aerosol mechanism of infectious disease transmission, the physics and chemistry of aerosols, and the mechanism of the so-called minimum-infective-dose.

In addition to pandemics that can occur anytime, in the temperate latitudes there is an extra burden of respiratory-disease mortality that is seasonal, and that is caused by viruses. For example, see the review of influenza by Paules and Subbarao (2017). This has been known for a long time, and the seasonal pattern is exceedingly regular. (Publisher’s note: All links to source references to studies here forward are found at the end of this article.)

For example, see Figure 1 of Viboud (2010), which has “Weekly time series of the ratio of deaths from pneumonia and influenza to all deaths, based on the 122 cities surveillance in the US (blue line). The red line represents the expected baseline ratio in the absence of influenza activity,” here:

The seasonality of the phenomenon was largely not understood until a decade ago. Until recently, it was debated whether the pattern arose primarily because of seasonal change in virulence of the pathogens, or because of seasonal change in susceptibility of the host (such as from dry air causing tissue irritation, or diminished daylight causing vitamin deficiency or hormonal stress). For example, see Dowell (2001).

In a landmark study, Shaman et al. (2010) showed that the seasonal pattern of extra respiratory-disease mortality can be explained quantitatively on the sole basis of absolute humidity, and its direct controlling impact on transmission of airborne pathogens.

Lowen et al. (2007) demonstrated the phenomenon of humidity-dependent airborne-virus virulence in actual disease transmission between guinea pigs, and discussed potential underlying mechanisms for the measured controlling effect of humidity.

The underlying mechanism is that the pathogen-laden aerosol particles or droplets are neutralized within a half-life that monotonically and significantly decreases with increasing ambient humidity. This is based on the seminal work of Harper (1961). Harper experimentally showed that viral-pathogen-carrying droplets were inactivated within shorter and shorter times, as ambient humidity was increased.

Harper argued that the viruses themselves were made inoperative by the humidity (“viable decay”), however, he admitted that the effect could be from humidity-enhanced physical removal or sedimentation of the droplets (“physical loss”): “Aerosol viabilities reported in this paper are based on the ratio of virus titre to radioactive count in suspension and cloud samples, and can be criticized on the ground that test and tracer materials were not physically identical.”

The latter (“physical loss”) seems more plausible to me, since humidity would have a universal physical effect of causing particle/droplet growth and sedimentation, and all tested viral pathogens have essentially the same humidity-driven “decay.” Furthermore, it is difficult to understand how a virion (of all virus types) in a droplet would be molecularly or structurally attacked or damaged by an increase in ambient humidity. A “virion” is the complete, infective form of a virus outside a host cell, with a core of RNA or DNA and a capsid. The actual mechanism of such humidity-driven intra-droplet “viable decay” of a virion has not been explained or studied.

In any case, the explanation and model of Shaman et al. (2010) is not dependent on the particular mechanism of the humidity-driven decay of virions in aerosol/droplets. Shaman’s quantitatively demonstrated model of seasonal regional viral epidemiology is valid for either mechanism (or combination of mechanisms), whether “viable decay” or “physical loss.”

The breakthrough achieved by Shaman et al. is not merely some academic point. Rather, it has profound health-policy implications, which have been entirely ignored or overlooked in the current coronavirus pandemic.

In particular, Shaman’s work necessarily implies that, rather than being a fixed number (dependent solely on the spatial-temporal structure of social interactions in a completely susceptible population, and on the viral strain), the epidemic’s basic reproduction number (R0) is highly or predominantly dependent on ambient absolute humidity.

For a definition of R0, see HealthKnowlege-UK (2020): R0 is “the average number of secondary infections produced by a typical case of an infection in a population where everyone is susceptible.” The average R0 for influenza is said to be 1.28 (1.19–1.37); see the comprehensive review by Biggerstaff et al. (2014).

In fact, Shaman et al. showed that R0 must be understood to seasonally vary between humid-summer values of just larger than “1” and dry-winter values typically as large as “4” (for example, see their Table 2). In other words, the seasonal infectious viral respiratory diseases that plague temperate latitudes every year go from being intrinsically mildly contagious to virulently contagious, due simply to the bio-physical mode of transmission controlled by atmospheric humidity, irrespective of any other consideration.

Therefore, all the epidemiological mathematical modeling of the benefits of mediating policies (such as social distancing), which assumes humidity-independent R0 values, has a large likelihood of being of little value, on this basis alone. For studies about modeling and regarding mediation effects on the effective reproduction number, see Coburn (2009) and Tracht (2010).

To put it simply, the “second wave” of an epidemic is not a consequence of human sin regarding mask-wearing and handshaking. Rather, the “second wave” is an inescapable consequence of an air-dryness-driven many-fold increase in disease contagiousness, in a population that has not yet attained immunity.

If my view of the mechanism is correct (i.e., “physical loss”), then Shaman’s work further necessarily implies that the dryness-driven high transmissibility (large R0) arises from small aerosol particles fluidly suspended in the air; as opposed to large droplets that are quickly gravitationally removed from the air.

Such small aerosol particles fluidly suspended in air, of biological origin, are of every variety and are everywhere, including down to virion-sizes (Despres, 2012). It is not entirely unlikely that viruses can thereby be physically transported over inter-continental distances (e.g., Hammond, 1989).

More to the point, indoor airborne virus concentrations have been shown to exist (in day-care facilities, health centers, and on-board airplanes) primarily as aerosol particles of diameters smaller than 2.5 μm, such as in the work of Yang et al. (2011):

“Half of the 16 samples were positive, and their total virus −3 concentrations ranged from 5800 to 37 000 genome copies m . On average, 64 per cent of the viral genome copies were associated with fine particles smaller than 2.5 μm, which can remain suspended for hours. Modeling of virus concentrations indoors suggested a source strength of 1.6 ± 1.2 × 105 genome copies m−3 air h−1 and a deposition flux onto surfaces of 13 ± 7 genome copies m−2 h−1 by Brownian motion. Over one hour, the inhalation dose was estimated to be 30 ± 18 median tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50), adequate to induce infection. These results provide quantitative support for the idea that the aerosol route could be an important mode of influenza transmission.”

Such small particles (< 2.5 μm) are part of air fluidity, are not subject to gravitational sedimentation, and would not be stopped by long-range inertial impact. This means that the slightest (even momentary) facial misfit of a mask or respirator renders the design filtration norm of the mask or respirator entirely irrelevant. In any case, the filtration material itself of N95 (average pore size ~0.3−0.5 μm) does not block virion penetration, not to mention surgical masks. For example, see Balazy et al. (2006).

Mask stoppage efficiency and host inhalation are only half of the equation, however, because the minimal infective dose (MID) must also be considered. For example, if a large number of pathogen-laden particles must be delivered to the lung within a certain time for the illness to take hold, then partial blocking by any mask or cloth can be enough to make a significant difference.

On the other hand, if the MID is amply surpassed by the virions carried in a single aerosol particle able to evade mask-capture, then the mask is of no practical utility, which is the case.

Yezli and Otter (2011), in their review of the MID, point out relevant features:

  1. Most respiratory viruses are as infective in humans as in tissue culture having optimal laboratory susceptibility
  2. It is believed that a single virion can be enough to induce illness in the host
  3. The 50-percent probability MID (“TCID50”) has variably been found to be in the range 100−1000 virions
  4. There are typically 10 to 3rd power − 10 to 7th power virions per aerolized influenza droplet with diameter 1 μm − 10 μm
  5. The 50-percent probability MID easily fits into a single (one) aerolized droplet
  6. For further background:
  7. A classic description of dose-response assessment is provided by Haas (1993).
  8. Zwart et al. (2009) provided the first laboratory proof, in a virus-insect system, that the action of a single virion can be sufficient to cause disease.
  9. Baccam et al. (2006) calculated from empirical data that, with influenza A in humans,“we estimate that after a delay of ~6 h, infected cells begin producing influenza virus and continue to do so for ~5 h. The average lifetime of infected cells is ~11 h, and the half-life of free infectious virus is ~3 h. We calculated the [in-body] basic reproductive number, R0, which indicated that a single infected cell could produce ~22 new productive infections.”
  10. Brooke et al. (2013) showed that, contrary to prior modeling assumptions, although not all influenza-A-infected cells in the human body produce infectious progeny (virions), nonetheless, 90 percent of infected cell are significantly impacted, rather than simply surviving unharmed.

All of this to say that: if anything gets through (and it always does, irrespective of the mask), then you are going to be infected. Masks cannot possibly work. It is not surprising, therefore, that no bias-free study has ever found a benefit from wearing a mask or respirator in this application.

Therefore, the studies that show partial stopping power of masks, or that show that masks can capture many large droplets produced by a sneezing or coughing mask-wearer, in light of the above-described features of the problem, are irrelevant. For example, such studies as these: Leung (2020), Davies (2013), Lai (2012), and Sande (2008).

Why There Can Never Be an Empirical Test of a Nation-Wide Mask-Wearing Policy
As mentioned above, no study exists that shows a benefit from a broad policy to wear masks in public. There is good reason for this. It would be impossible to obtain unambiguous and bias-free results [because]:

  1. Any benefit from mask-wearing would have to be a small effect, since undetected in controlled experiments, which would be swamped by the larger effects, notably the large effect from changing atmospheric humidity.
  2. Mask compliance and mask adjustment habits would be unknown.
  3. Mask-wearing is associated (correlated) with several other health behaviors; see Wada (2012).
  4. The results would not be transferable, because of differing cultural habits.
  5. Compliance is achieved by fear, and individuals can habituate to fear-based propaganda, and can have disparate basic responses.
  6. Monitoring and compliance measurement are near-impossible, and subject to large errors.
  7. Self-reporting (such as in surveys) is notoriously biased, because individuals have the self-interested belief that their efforts are useful.
  8. Progression of the epidemic is not verified with reliable tests on large population samples, and generally relies on non-representative hospital visits or admissions.
  9. Several different pathogens (viruses and strains of viruses) causing respiratory illness generally act together, in the same population and/or in individuals, and are not resolved, while having different epidemiological characteristics.

Unknown Aspects of Mask Wearing
Many potential harms may arise from broad public policies to wear masks, and the following unanswered questions arise:

  1. Do used and loaded masks become sources of enhanced transmission, for the wearer and others?
  2. Do masks become collectors and retainers of pathogens that the mask wearer would otherwise avoid when breathing without a mask?
  3. Are large droplets captured by a mask atomized or aerolized into breathable components? Can virions escape an evaporating droplet stuck to a mask fiber?
  4. What are the dangers of bacterial growth on a used and loaded mask?
  5. How do pathogen-laden droplets interact with environmental dust and aerosols captured on the mask?
  6. What are long-term health effects on HCW, such as headaches, arising from impeded breathing?
  7. Are there negative social consequences to a masked society?
  8. Are there negative psychological consequences to wearing a mask, as a fear-based behavioral modification?
  9. What are the environmental consequences of mask manufacturing and disposal?
  10. Do the masks shed fibers or substances that are harmful when inhaled?

By making mask-wearing recommendations and policies for the general public, or by expressly condoning the practice, governments have both ignored the scientific evidence and done the opposite of following the precautionary principle.

In an absence of knowledge, governments should not make policies that have a hypothetical potential to cause harm. The government has an onus barrier before it instigates a broad social-engineering intervention, or allows corporations to exploit fear-based sentiments.

Furthermore, individuals should know that there is no known benefit arising from wearing a mask in a viral respiratory illness epidemic and that scientific studies have shown that any benefit must be residually small, compared to other and determinative factors.

Otherwise, what is the point of publicly funded science?

The present paper about masks illustrates the degree to which governments, the mainstream media, and institutional propagandists can decide to operate in a science vacuum or select only incomplete science that serves their interests. Such recklessness is also certainly the case with the current global lockdown of over 1 billion people, an unprecedented experiment in medical and political history.

Denis G. Rancourt is a researcher at the Ontario Civil Liberties Association ( and is formerly a tenured professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada. This paper was originally published at Rancourt’s account on As of June 5, 2020, this paper was removed from his profile by its administrators at

At Rancourt’s blog, he recounts the notification and responses he received from and states, “This is censorship of my scientific work like I have never experienced before.”

The original April 2020 white paper in .pdf format is available here, complete with charts that have not been reprinted in the Reader print or web versions. 

RELATED COMMENTARY: An Unprecedented Experiment: Sometimes You Just Gotta Wear the Stupid 


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(4) Masking Children: Tragic, Unscientific, and Damaging

by Paul E. Alexander, AIER, March 10, 2021

Summary: Children do not readily acquire SARS-CoV-2 (very low risk), spread it to other children or teachers, or endanger parents or others at home. This is the settled science. In the rare cases where a child contracts Covid virus it is very unusual for the child to get severely ill or die. Masking can do positive harm to children – as it can to some adults. But the cost benefit analysis is entirely different for adults and children – particularly younger children.

Whatever arguments there may be for consenting adults – children should not be required to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Of course, zero risk is not attainable – with or without masks, vaccines, therapeutics, distancing or anything else medicine may develop or government agencies may impose. 

How did this blue surgical mask and white cloth mask come to dominate our daily lives? Well, indeed, the surgical masks and white cloth (often homemade) masks have become the most contentious and quarrelsome symbol and reminder of our battle with SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, Covid-19.

The mask has become so politicized that it prevents rational consideration of the evidence (even across political lines) and drives levels of acrimony, invidious actions, disdain, and villainy among wearers to each other who feel threatened by the individual who will not or cannot wear a mask. 

But how dangerous is this virus? Based on studies done by Professor John PA Ioannidis of Stanford University, we know that we are dealing with a virus that has an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.05 in persons 70 years old and under (range: 0.00% to 0.57% with a median of 0.05% across the different global locations; with a corrected median of 0.04%).

This compares quite well to the IFR of most influenza viruses (and even lower), and yet the draconian and massive reactions to SARS- CoV-2 have never been employed during influenza season. 

Given this knowledge it is more than perplexing as to why our governments, at the behest of their public health advisors, have accepted as a fait accompli what we refer to as a ‘great deception’ or lie, convincing us of inevitable and severe consequences if anyone is infected with SARS-CoV-2. 

Yes, the public was lied to and deceived from day one by governments and their medical advisors and the media medical cabal with its incessant messaging that we were all at equal risk of severe illness or death if infected, young and old. They subverted science.

This caused irrational fear and hysteria and it has held on. This type of deception and the resulting unfounded fear has been driven by the media despite “a thousandfold difference in risk between old and young.”

We suggest that this has always been known, and yet this disinformation and related falsehoods were spread seemingly both willfully and knowingly by our leaders and the media. Such conflation of the risks between the young and the elderly population with comorbidities and at risk is wrong-headed and creates unnecessary fear for all. It is well known that there is a distinct stratified risk (strongly associated with increasing age and comorbidities). 

Additionally, data now suggests (even though still nascent) that children not only have extremely low risk as mentioned above but also that they naturally have the capability of evading the SARS-CoV-2 virus due to the lack of the ACE-2 receptors in their nostrils. It escapes us as to why this deceit continues to be served to the public and has not been stopped forthwith. 

What does the evidence show? Well, evidence is accumulating about the potential harms of mask use (references 1234567891011121314151617181920212223).

For example, the CDC’s own February 2021 double-mask study reported that masking may impede breathing – which can trigger a variety of other problems including acute anxiety attacks in susceptible individuals. These harms are even more likely to occur to children, particularly smaller children.

The scientific evidence in total also suggests masks (surgical and cloth masks) as currently used are ineffective in reducing transmission (references 12345678910111213141516171819202122232425).

Even if we tried to tease out ‘minimal help’ and say ‘they may help a little,’ these Covid-19 masks are largely ineffective. In many reports, conclusively so. As an example, a very recent publication stated that face masks become non-consequential and do not function after 20 minutes due to saturation.

“Those masks are only effective so long as they are dry,” said Professor Yvonne Cossart of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney.” As soon as they become saturated with the moisture in your breath, they stop doing their job and pass on the droplets.”

In a similar light, there are indications that wearing a mask that has already been used, which is very common, is riskier than if one wore no mask at all. The evidence on mask mandates is also clear in that they are ineffective and do not work (references 123456) to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2. 

We don’t have a wealth of scientific evidence on exactly when it is safe or not safe for children to be masked, but here’s a good rule of thumb. If you wouldn’t put a child in the front seat of your Prius without disabling the airbag – think twice before requiring an otherwise healthy child to wear a mask – or even forcing them to social distance in school. 

On the dangers of masks generally, a recent mini-review reported “There are insufficient data to quantify all of the adverse effects that might reduce the acceptability, adherence and effectiveness of face masks.”

We agree that the adequate primary type comparative effectiveness research is still not available but we do have strong anecdotal, reported, and real-world information as indicated above, along with some primary evidence, which we have judged appropriate to inform the discussion sufficiently. 

During April to October 2020 in the US, emergency room visits linked to mental health problems (e.g. anxiety) for children aged 5-11 increased by nearly 25% and increased by 31% for those aged 12-17 years old as compared to the same period in 2019. During the month of June 2020, 25% of persons aged 18 to 24 in the US reported suicidal ideation. While some of this may be related to the pandemic, we suspect that it is largely a function of our response to the pandemic.

One of the most starkly revealing and troubling observations come from Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson MD, PhD, who is one of Europe’s leading neurologists and neurophysiologists focused on neurotoxicology, environmental medicine, neuro-regeneration and neuroplasticity.

She has gone on record stating: “The rebreathing of our exhaled air will without a doubt create oxygen deficiency and a flooding of carbon dioxide. We know that the human brain is very sensitive to oxygen deprivation.”

There are neurons, for example in the hippocampus that cannot survive more than 3 minutes without an adequate supply of oxygen. Given that such cells are so sensitive to oxygen deprivation, their functionality must be affected by low oxygen levels. 

Oxygen deprivation can cause metabolic changes and the metabolic changes that happen in neuronal cells are vitally important for cognitive functioning and brain plasticity and it is known that when drastic metabolic shifts occur in the brain, there are consequent changes of oxidative stress (cellular oxidative state) and these have a significant role in managing neuron functioning (we do not claim that masking would produce complete absence of oxygen of course).  

The acute warning symptoms are headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, reduced ability to concentrate and reductions in cognitive function. Given that the development of neurodegenerative diseases can take years to develop, then what are the potentially deleterious effects of the use of masks, especially in children, when masks are used over the majority of their day?

We and particularly parents, must consider this and weigh the benefits versus the harms. Are there benefits enough to warrant use relative to the potential harms? If the harms outweigh the benefits, then we cannot in good conscience advocate for mask use. Moreover, the continual and stressful impacts of masking (and school closures) will also have a known and deleterious impact on the immune systems in children (and adults). 

Other medical harms relate to the notion that children and adolescents have an extremely active and adaptive immune system, a system that must be challenged in order to retain functionality. Yet by severely restricting children’s activities because of lockdowns and masking (physical activity/fitness exercises are almost impossible whilst wearing a mask), we are probably hobbling their immune systems. Evidence indicates that regular physical activity and frequent exercise enhance immune competency and regulation

A child unexposed to nature has little defense against a minor illness, which can become overwhelming due to the lack of a primed ‘tuned-up’ and ‘taxed’ immune system. A robust immune system shortens an illness as a consequence of the presence of preprogrammed anamnestic immunity.

Preventing children from such interactions with nature and germs can and does lead to overwhelming infections and serious consequences to the health and life of a child. We might be setting up our children for future disaster when they emerge from societal restrictions fully and with no masks, to then be at the mercy of normally benign opportunistic infections with a now weakened immune system. This cannot be disregarded as we consider the consequences of our actions today in this pandemic and the questionable lockdownsschool closures, and mask policies. 

German-wide registry (not the optimal highest-quality study) used by 20,353 parents who reported on data from almost 26,000 children, found that the “average wearing time of the mask was 270 minutes per day. Impairments caused by wearing the mask were reported by 68% of the parents. These included irritability (60%), headache (53%), difficulty concentrating (50%), less happiness (49%), reluctance to go to school/kindergarten (44%), malaise (42%) impaired learning (38%) and drowsiness or fatigue (37%).”  

Concerns are being raised regarding psychological damage and why a mask is not ‘just a mask.’ There is tremendous psychological damage to infants and children, with potential catastrophic impacts on the cognitive development of children. This is even more critical in relation to children with special needs or those within the autism spectrum who need to be able to recognize facial expressions as part of their ongoing development.

The accumulating evidence also suggests that prolonged mask use in children or adults can cause harms, so much so that Dr. Blaylock states “the bottom line is that [if] you are not sick, you should not wear a mask.” Furthermore, Dr. Blaylock writes, “By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.”

In sum, as mentioned, the optimal comparative research on harms has not sufficiently accumulated but what has been reported is sufficient to inform and guide us in our debate on the potential harms of mask use (surgical and cloth), especially in children. But we do have real-world evidence.

While additional evidence will help clarify the extent of risk, the existing details are sobering enough and of tremendous utility as we consider the benefits versus the harms of mask use. Even the potential of minimal harm is enough to prevent justification of such use. 

Remember, even Dr. Fauci told us in 2020 that masks are not needed and not effective as you may think it is (March 2020 with Jon LaPook, 60 Minutes). Para ‘no need to walk around with one.’ Dr. Fauci was indeed telling you the science then, and the science has not changed. His statement “it is not providing the perfect protection that people think…” may have changed, but the science remains crystal clear on effectiveness, or lack of. 

We call on parents to consider this and to carefully weigh the benefits versus the downsides/harms of masks to their children. This really is not an issue of the ‘science’ as kids do not spread the virus readily to kids, to adults, to teachers, or to the home. They do not get severely ill or die from this. Moreover, teachers are at very low risk of severe illness or death and the school setting remains one of the safest, lowest risk environments. 

The science is clear and thus the question becomes, what is the benefit of masks for children? Is masking of children really more about seeming to be doing something even if it is ineffective or possibly harmful? If the possible harms outweigh the negligible and questionable benefit in such a low-risk group, then why must they wear masks indoors and outdoors at school?

Masks in children with such near zero risk of transmission and illness from Covid is not necessary and illogical and irrational. This is similar to the need for vaccination of children, especially young children. Children were not part of the vaccine research and also the very low risk to children raises very troubling questions of why. A move to vaccinate children based on the existing risk evidence has no basis in science and there is no net benefit. 

Why then did Dr. Fauci call for this? What is the benefit? Is this similar to when Dr. Fauci initially called for double masking, only to then retract the statement? An ‘assumption’ or ‘speculation’ or ‘supposition’ it may work is not science! Is a ‘children vaccine’ retraction coming from Dr. Fauci? Absolutely, children need vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella etc. but not for Covid. Similar for masks, there is no benefit we can see. 

To close, masking children is as absurd, illogical, nonsensical, and potentially dangerous as trying to stop ‘every case of Covid’ or ‘stopping Covid at all costs.’ Masks are not needed for children based on near zero risk in children. The risk of dying from Covid-19 is “almost zero” for young people. The issue of masks in children is really a risk management question for parents and any decision-maker. The science is settled.

Contributing Authors

  • Paul E Alexander MSc PhD, McMaster University and GUIDE Research Methods Group, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Howard C. Tenenbaum DDS, Dip. Perio., PhD, FRCD(C) Centre for Advanced Dental Research and Care, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Dr. Parvez Dara, MD, MBA,

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"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity ... the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance. This immaturity is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) "Have the courage to use your own understanding," is therefore the motto of the [European] Enlightenment. "Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet [or vaccine], and so on--then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me. Those guardians who have kindly taken supervision upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of mankind ... should consider the step to maturity, not only as hard, but as extremely dangerous. First, these guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings to which they have fastened them. Then they show them the danger that would threaten them if they should try to walk by themselves. Now this danger is really not very great; after stumbling a few times they would, at last, learn to walk. However, examples of such failures intimidate and generally discourage all further attempts. "Thus it is very difficult for the individual to work himself out of the immaturity which has become almost second nature to him. He has even grown to like it, and is at first really incapable of using his own understanding because he has never been permitted to try it. Dogmas and formulas [e.g., Leftist ideology, identity politics] these mechanical tools designed for reasonable use--or rather abuse--of his natural gifts, are the fetters of an everlasting immaturity. The man who casts them off would make an uncertain leap over the narrowest ditch, because he is not used to such free movement. That is why there are only a few men who walk firmly, and who have emerged from immaturity by cultivating their own minds." - Kant, "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment"

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