This is part of the story on indoor air quality, but CBS summaried it in a short article.
Bottom line: Just because masks aren’t the same as sealing yourself up in a diving bell, doesn’t mean they don’t work. Even a 50% reduction in risk might be the 50% that prevents you from getting an infection.
Face mask effectiveness: What science knows now - CBS News
The question isn’t about whether or not masks work; there is a reason they are worn in operating rooms.
The issue that has been brought up in reviews of the literature is: how effective are they as public health policy? It turns out they are not very effective in preventing respiratory virus transmission in the population.
Of course masks aren’t effective if half the people aren’t wearing them. But maybe that’s an education/ignorance problem rather than a mask problem?
If you are worried about your health, wear a mask. It might help. For a time I used them on crowded public transport.
As stated in the very first sentence of the authors’ conclusions.!
In a way, I can see why there was such a willingness to glom onto any hint that masks might not work in the early days of the pandemic. It was such a departure from most folks’ standard practice, it was almost “normal” to look for reasons why it was unnecessary/excuses for carrying on in the same ole way (a bit like patients in the early days of my dental career when they encountered my use of what’s become standard infection control procedures over the years)
I see that this paper is dated Jan 2023. So, folk are still utilizing grant funding to continue looking at this from yet another perspective and still not finding a reason that masks are/were a waste of time? I shouldn’t be surprised…I bet there are still studies in the pipeline attempting to find a link between the MMR vaccine and autism/hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid etc.
Denialism…the gift that keeps on giving.
…and another sizable portion do not wear them properly, either through ignorance or deliberate obstinance. I’ve seen over the past several years many people even wearing them beneath their noses, ostensibly because “I can’t breath, I can’t breath.” Waaaaaaaaaa.
Yes, that’s the point. The conclusion is that you can’t just say ‘everybody should wear masks’ and expect it to be effective. That wasn’t covered in the linked article.
The article reviewed research from both before and during the covid pandemic. The conclusions for public health policy (ineffective) were the same before and after.
Big picture, they protect the patient from someone accidentally coughing up large droplets and/or gum into the open wound. Masks offer little protection to OR staff, especially when considering use of electrical cautery (to stop bleeding) often aerosolizes particles of who knows what.
Read a study done about 20+ years ago in British ORs. Only those immediately next to the OR table wore a mask. Those further away such as the circulating nurse, anesthesia, and anyone else that came into the room didn’t wear a mask. Results, no increase in patient infection rate.
If you want to wear a mask, go ahead. Higher rate of return on investment is washing your hands and not touching your face.
It is extremely hard to do studies requiring clarity on the issue of communal vs. individual decisions, and masking versus not masking is a classic. My story in this post is suggestingly indicative but far short of a study.
My housekeeper here in central Mexico commutes to our home from a small antique Pueblo community where old habits of communal leadership and decisionmaking are still very very strong for peculiar reasons too complicated for a post.
When the covid epidemic started my husband and I held a meeting with her and with our two gardener/foresters (we are doing reforestation on six acres of land) regarding “How We and Our Families Are Nor Going to Get Sick.” Hygiene, masking, etc., reinforcing but going beyond the Mexican Public Health messaging on radio etc. Our housekeeper took that back to her Pueblo where she “preached it” to the powerful matriarchs, the village priest, the principal of the grammar school, and a few key others, who “chose” on behalf of the community to implement vigorously. When I went to visit them (surveying a flood prevention plan I was backing) I was stunned to see near total compliance with masking.
Their village had the lowest incidence in our entire area.
Why focus so much on one article when there are so many others that often conclude the opposite? Just a couple of examples:
Our findings support the use of face masks particularly in a community setting and for adults. Face masks to prevent transmission of respiratory infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on face mask use
Masking in community settings decreases transmission of influenza-like illness. Effectiveness of Mask-Wearing on Respiratory Illness Transmission in Community Settings: A Rapid Review | Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness | Cambridge Core
Suppose you are a public health czar. An epidemic hits your community and your hospitals are getting swamped. A health care collapse is possible. You know that the disease is respiratory and suspect that it is spread in part by inhalation. Why in the world wouldn’t you impose a mask mandate? Even if one cannot be certain of its benefits, the sacrifice is small and the relative benefits are large.
IMO, those against mask mandates for serious epidemics are irrational.
Yes, but you’re not talking about rational people, either. There just might possibly be a significant overlap in those who refused to wear masks and those who are election deniers. Evidence does not matter to the “faithful”, medically or judicially.
Remember those sex education classes that stressed continence? It is actually quite effective in preventing the spread of STDs and avoiding pregnancies – if followed. As a public health program, not so effective.
No, I don’t.
But I can recall way too many commercials for products and drugs that are supposed to help with INcontinence.
Seriously, abstinence was just one of several ways to avoid pregnancy and STDs that were discussed back in the dark ages when I was young.
Be good. If you can’t be good, be careful.
If you can’t be careful, have a good alibi.
PS - That addendum is probably more useful for legal issues than STDs.
I whole-heartedly agree: there has been a lot of incontinence going on.
OK, how about a new program with the slogan
“Incontinence – Just Say No”
To ccs’ point, an anecdote: we wore N95s on our recent flights to & from Italy. On both flights of 7.5h+, there were very sick people right behind us or next to us. We wish THEY would have worn masks, but alas… we did not catch anything or transmit anything to our travel companions or people back home, and we were happy to escape cleanly. It’s possible the masks didn’t help much, but it’s likely they did, and they certainly didn’t hurt. So I’m a fan of masking up on crowded public transport going forward.
Yes! And the most dangerous times are the idiotically mismanaged queues in ticketing, baggage check, security, and boarding lines. Just as in grocery stores and the like I always have a mask available if needed. Once the doors of an airliner are shut the filtered air circulation is quite good, but I keep my mask close in case a germ machine is seated near me.
And I wash my hands and surfaces near me (the tray, the seat controls, armrests) like an obsessive idiot.