Link To Guantanamo Torture: Masks Make Breathing More Difficult
Are Face Masks Effective? The Evidence.
January 2022 | Swiss Policy Research | Source
An overview of the current evidence regarding the effectiveness of face masks.
A) Studies on the effectiveness of face masks
So far, most studies found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in the general population, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.
- A May 2020 meta-study on pandemic influenza published by the US CDC found that face masks had no effect, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control. (Source)
- A Danish randomized controlled trial with 6000 participants, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November 2020, found no statistically significant effect of high-quality medical face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community setting. (Source)
- A large randomized controlled trial with close to 8000 participants, published in October 2020 in PLOS One, found that face masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection.” (Source)
- A February 2021 review by the European CDC found no high-quality evidence in favor of face masks and recommended their use only based on the ‘precautionary principle’. (Source)
- A July 2020 review by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine found that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of face masks against virus infection or transmission. (Source)
- A November 2020 Cochrane review found that face masks did not reduce influenza-like illness (ILI) cases, neither in the general population nor in health care workers. (Source)
- An August 2021 study published in the Int. Research Journal of Public Health found “no association between mask mandates or use and reduced COVID-19 spread in US states.” (Source)
- A July 2021 experimental study published by the American Institute of Physics found that face masks reduced indoor aerosols by at most 12%, not enough to prevent infections. (Source)
- An April 2020 review by two US professors in respiratory and infectious disease from the University of Illinois concluded that face masks have no effect in everyday life, neither as self-protection nor to protect third parties (so-called source control). (Source)
- An article in the New England Journal of Medicine from May 2020 came to the conclusion that face masks offer little to no protection in everyday life. (Source)
- A 2015 study in the British Medical Journal BMJ Open found that cloth masks were penetrated by 97% of particles and may increase infection risk by retaining moisture or repeated use. (Source)
- An August 2020 review by a German professor in virology, epidemiology and hygiene found that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of face masks and that the improper daily use of masks by the public may in fact lead to an increase in infections. (Source)
For a review of studies claiming face masks are effective, see section G) below.
B) 2019 WHO review of face mask trials
In September 2019, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a comprehensive report on “Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza”.
The report reviewed ten randomized controlled trials concerning the effectiveness of face masks against influenza-like illness (ILI). As the following table shows, none of the trials found a statistically significant benefit of face masks.
C) Development of cases after mask mandates
In many states, coronavirus infections strongly increased after mask mandates had been introduced. The following charts show the typical examples of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the UK, California and Hawaii. Furthermore, a direct comparison between US states with and without mask mandates indicates that mask mandates have made no difference. (Charts: Y. Weiss)
For an updated version of these charts, see the postscript below.
D) Effectiveness of N95/FFP2 mask mandates
In January 2021, the German state of Bavaria was one of the first places in the world to mandate N95/FFP2 masks in most public settings. A comparison with other German states, which required cloth or medical masks, indicates that even N95/FFP2 masks have made no difference.
In January 2021, Austria was the first country in the world to introduce an N95/FFP2 mask mandate at the national level. The mandate was further expanded in September 2021. Nevertheless, by November 2021 Austria reported the highest infection rate in the world.
E) Additional aspects
- There is increasing evidence that the novel coronavirus is transmitted, at least in indoor settings, not only by droplets but primarily by smaller aerosols. However, due to their large pore size and poor fit, most face masks cannot filter out aerosols (see video analysis below): over 90% of aerosols penetrate or bypass the mask and fill a medium-sized room within minutes.
- The WHO admitted to the BBC that its June 2020 mask policy update was due not to new evidence but “political lobbying”: “We had been told by various sources WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying. This point was put to WHO who did not deny.” (D. Cohen, BBC Medical Corresponent).
- To date, the only randomized controlled trial (RCT) on face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community setting found no statistically significant benefit (see above). However, three major journals refused to publish this study, delaying its publication by several months.
- An analysis by the US CDC found that 85% of people infected with the new coronavirus reported wearing a mask “always” (70.6%) or “often” (14.4%). Compared to the control group of uninfected people, always wearing a mask did not reduce the risk of infection.
- Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that the infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2 is just 300 virions (virus particles), whereas a single minute of normal speaking may generate more than 750,000 virions, making face masks unlikely to prevent infection.
- Contrary to common belief, studies in hospitals found that the wearing of a medical mask by surgeons during operations didn’t reduce post-operative bacterial wound infections in patients.
- Many health authorities argued that face masks suppressed influenza; in reality, influenza was temporarily displaced by the more infectious coronavirus. Indeed, influenza disappeared even in states without masks, lockdowns and school closures (e.g. Sweden and Florida).
- The initially low coronavirus infection rate in some Asian countries was not due to masks, but due to very rapid border controls. For instance, Japan, despite its widespread use of face masks, had experienced its most recent influenza epidemic just one year prior to the covid pandemic.
- Early in the pandemic, the advocacy group “Mask for All” argued that Czechia had few infections thanks to the early use of masks. In reality, the pandemic simply hadn’t reached Eastern Europe yet; a few months later, Czechia had one of the highest infection rates in the world.
- During the notorious 1918 influenza pandemic, the use of face masks among the general population was widespread and in some places mandatory, but they made no difference.
F) The facemask aerosol issue
In the following video, Dr. Theodore Noel explains the facemask aerosol issue.