In the last instalment, I discussed some rather appalling pro-mask propaganda by the industry-funded CDC, oligarch-funded FactCheck.org and the usual smattering of researchers who helpfully prove a university degree is no guarantee of intelligence or scientific competence.
I then assured readers I would return to the topic of mask harms in this instalment.
But just when I thought it was safe to pronounce the "masks are effective" argument dead and buried, along comes another 'definitive' study claiming otherwise.
I stumbled across this study courtesy of "Vivian," who dropped the following comment at the end of a Retraction Watch article:Stop the presses! An anonymous Internet expert has declared “the Danish study” (DANMASK, which I discussed in detail here) to be "probably biased, incomplete and ... anti-science." All based on a paper appearing in the January 2021 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
For Vivian's edification, DANMASK was not published on a "conspiracy theorist website" but in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Established in 1927 by the American College of Physicians, it is one of the most influential and widely cited medical journals in the world. Vivian writes with such confidence and conviction, but has absolutely no clue what she's talking about.
You see this a lot nowadays: True believers of current cause célèbres, oozing with cocksureness, belittling those with differing views as "conspiracy theorists" and anti-scientific "deniers." They declare that the science is settled in their favor, and insist those of us who beg to differ are ignorant troglodytes. In their minds, they are the enlightened ones who abide by science, while we skeptics are "deplorables" who - for reasons the self-proclaimed illuminated ones can never quite explain - insist on denying what everyone else "knows" to be true.
The problem with popularly-held beliefs is that they are very often complete nonsense. As one perceptive commentator (the late Ernest G. Ross) noted: "About almost any subject, there are the facts 'everyone knows' and then there are the real ones."
When you talk with authority on a subject you in fact know little about, you are not enlightened - you are an embarrassment.
When you fail to realize your own ignorance and instead act as if your beliefs make you morally superior, you are not ethically elite - you are a conceited fool.
No-one has a monopoly on the facts. What is true has nothing to do with being "woke". It has nothing to do with being "left" or "right," although it must be said that those on the "liberal" side of the political spectrum are by far the loudest, most obnoxious and self-righteous. They are wholly intolerant of differing viewpoints. They respond to conflicting arguments, not with rational rebuttal, but by constantly raising their volume and incessantly using cheap insults like "conspiracy theorist" and "denier."
And no, name-dropping famous (pharma-funded) doctors or health bureaucrats is not science. Copying and pasting URLs to studies you have not read and assume others won't read because, like you, they will be daunted by several pages of sciencespeak is not science.
It's thinly-veiled evasion. When you insist I am wrong but can't even begin to refute me with scientific facts that you can explain in your own words, you are unwittingly admitting I'm right.
And so one thing I like to do with cocksure believers like Vivian is call their bluff.
I did exactly what Vivian advised "George" to do, and pulled up the study.
However, I didn't just scroll through the 12 pages, look at the 141 references, and think "yep, sure looks sciencey to me! Vivian must be right!"
Instead, I began to dissect it. And, upon doing so, it quickly became obvious Vivian hadn't read the PNAS paper, let alone retrieved and read each and every one of its "more than 100" citations. If by some slim chance she did actually read it, she clearly had no idea how to critically assess what she was looking at.
For starters, the PNAS paper makes absolutely no mention of the Danish DANMASK study. By the time DANMASK appeared online, the PNAS paper would either have been in the final stages of peer review or may have already been green-lighted for publication. Either way, it is patently stupid to claim the PNAS paper shows “the Danish study” to be "probably biased, incomplete" and "anti-science" when the paper in fact makes no mention whatsoever of DANMASK!
I'm not normally inspired to pen articles based on the ramblings of anonymous Internet users in the comments sections of online articles. But the mentality of Vivian is sadly pervasive. People like her are everywhere. They make social media posts, write comments after Internet articles and pen letters to the editor pompously deriding "anti-vaxxers" (a catch-all term used to deride anyone who questions any part of the official COVID narrative, irrespective of whether they have had the clot shot).
They piously tell people to "follow the science," all the while making comments that have absolutely no basis in anything resembling sound science.
Those who dare even question the beliefs they hold dear, such as the doomsday Anthropogenic Climate Change or COVID-19 paradigms, are instantly dismissed as "deniers" and "conspiracy theorists" - a terribly anti-scientific manner in which to deal with opposing arguments.
The truth about these people is they don't have the slightest damn clue about science. They wouldn't know a scientific paper if it crawled up their keester and submitted itself for peer review. What these people really mean when the say "follow the science" is "follow the leader." They mean for you to be like them and believe the sensationalist media and its favored 'opinion leaders' like Anthony "Flip Flop" Fauci, whose track record of completely contradicting himself is well-documented.
They mean for you to unquestioningly submit to 'leaders' like UK career alarmist Neil Ferguson, head author of the hopelessly bombastic 16 March 2020 Imperial College-WHO report predicting Armageddon unless drastic global lockdowns were imposed. The report may have been replete with patently ridiculous and long since disproved predictions, but it was instrumental in plunging much of the world into harsh lockdowns. Just how sincerely Ferguson believed in his own predictions became evident when he was caught out cavorting with his married mistress, leftist campaigner Antonia Staats, during the height of the COVID paranoia he helped foment. Staats is a senior campaigner for US-based Avaaz, a George Soros-backed online activist petition site. While Ferguson and Staats urged people to stay home and practice social distancing, the two hypocrites had been sneaking across town to engage in some jolly good times, old chap - even after Staats suspected her husband had symptoms of COVID-19!
The "follow the science" crowd want you to stay a mile away from science, and instead obey the anti-science edicts of people like Dr Siouxsie Wiles, another hypocritical product of the dubious Imperial College. The pink-haired Wiles, who evidently fancies herself as a bit of a punk rocker (ironically, punk was originally built on an ethos of rejecting conformity and challenging authority), is fond of telling people to wear masks and to "stay in their bubbles." But like her Imperial colleague Ferguson, Wiles doesn't really believe any of this hogwash. In September, she was filmed at the beach with a friend, Nicola Gaston. Neither was wearing a mask, and Gaston ignored the "no swimming" rule and got neck-deep in water. In response, Wiles claimed her friend was part of the same "bubble" as her and that the pair had cycled 5km from her house to the beach. But in this video, Wiles clearly states "bubbles" are the people you live with (Wiles is married and has a daughter) and that your bubbles should be as small as possible.
The "follow the science" crowd want you to be like them and obey the utterly unscientific rot of people like "Saint" Nicola Spurrier, the distinctly unsaintly bureaucrat who has appeared in commercials spouting egregious nonsense about the so-called 'vaccines.' The non-vaccines are "close to 90% effective for reducing symptoms and preventing hospitalizations and death from the Delta strain," says Spurrier, a bullshit claim with absolutely no supporting clinical trial evidence. "Vaccines do not have late onset side effects," claims Spurrier, "and COVID-19 vaccines are no different." Given that the clinical trials for these Brave New World concoctions were hastily unblinded after only several months, and that they have only been on the market for a year, who is she to declare them free of "late onset" side effects?
The other pressing question that needs to be asked of Spurrier is why, if she really believes this rubbish, did she feel the need to get a sham 'vaccine' shot instead of the real thing?
Behold the amateur production that was passed off as Spurrier's first clot shot: No vial anywhere to be seen and no alcohol swabbing of the injection site by the actor, uh, I mean, nurse, whose arm also just happens to conveniently block all view of the syringe at the alleged moment of injection. If that was a genuine 'vaccine' injection, then my name is Bond. Giacomo Bond.
Oh, and word in the Adelaide health profession is that Spurrier is under police investigation for unlawfully issuing a 'vaccine' exemption for her daughter. If true, it may explain why Spurrier, who seems to fancy herself as something of a starlet, has been unusually quiet and absent from the media of late.
So if 'leaders' like Ferguson, Wiles and Spurrier don't believe their own bollockery, why should we?
Following the science does not mean blindly ingesting all the hogwash emanating from media, government and vacuous celebrities. That's not being scientific - it's being hopelessly gullible and stupid.
Ok, rant over. Mostly. Let's start picking apart the PNAS paper.
The Usual Crap, Slightly Different Texture and Smell
One of the first things I do when I pull up a paper on a contentious issue is to check who authored it, where they are from, who they are connected with, and what conflicts of interests they may have - be they financial or ideological.
Doing that with the PNAS paper, which is titled "An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19," returns some very revealing connections.
The funding source of the 19 researchers is not revealed, and the paper states "The authors declare no competing interest."
Which brings us to the first big whopper in the paper.
The lead author is a guy called Jeremy Howard, whose bio describes him as "an entrepreneur, business strategist, developer, and educator. He is a founding researcher at fast.ai, a research institute dedicated to making deep learning more accessible."
What is "deep learning," you ask? Put simply, it "is a machine learning technique that teaches computers to do what comes naturally to humans: learn by example."
Machine learning might have next-to-nothing to do with the mask issue, but it sure is important in ushering in the AI New World Order.
Howard is also a "Distinguished Research Scientist" at the University of San Francisco, a faculty member at Singularity University, and a Young Global Leader with none other than the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The WEF, as many of you are aware, is the heinous outfit founded and run by Henry Kissinger protege and fellow megalomaniac Klaus Schwab. The WEF is a prime mover behind the so-called Great Reset, the technocratic plan to use fake "emergencies" like COVID-19 and Anthropogenic Climate Change to strip us of our freedoms and possessions in order to "save" the planet.
By 2030, "You'll own nothing - and you'll be happy about it," says Schwab.
Never mind that Klaus and his billionaire buddies have no intention of surrendering so much as a cent of their grotesque wealth. Quite the opposite: They're the ones planning to seize everything of value on the planet, turning the rest of us into possessionless and powerless serfs.
Vivian might call this a conspiracy theory, but Schwab's evil agenda is no secret - individuals will be stripped of their rights, while Schwab's billionaire buddies from Big Everything (or in the WEF's wanky BuzzSpeak, "stakeholders") will assume an even greater role in determining how the world is run. Capitalism bad, Corporate Socialism good!
Howard's bio goes on to list a number of business start-ups he has been involved in, and gushes that "he has many television and other video appearances, including as a regular guest on Australia’s highest-rated breakfast news program, a popular talk on TED.com, and data science and web development tutorials and discussions."
So Howard is an entrepreneur, publicity whore, and part of the WEF Youth Corps - and he fails to disclose the latter critical tidbit in his paper.
Oh joy. Just the kind of guy we can all trust implicitly, right?
(To see what kind of dystopian future a "WEF Young Global Leader" aspires to, be sure to read this disturbing puff piece at Forbes titled "Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better").
Big Sister Speaks
One of Howard's co-authors who deserves special mention is Helene-Mari van der Westhuizen, from the Department of Primary Health Care Sciences, University of Oxford.
Oxford University is a major player in the Great COVID Con; along with Fauci's NIAID and the CCP-controlled Chinese Academy of Sciences, it was instrumental in introducing chimpanzee viruses for use in human vaccines. Indeed, the UK's contribution to the global fake-vaccine arms race - developed by Oxford researchers in conjunction with corporate criminal AstraZeneca - was a viral vector drug containing a chimpanzee adenovirus and the protein sequence for what is supposedly the Sars-Cov-2 spike protein.
Judging from a paper she lead-authored last year, van der Westhuizen is not just pro-mask but also pro-conformity and extremely pro-propaganda.
On 19 August 2020, several months before the PNAS paper was published, BMJ published an opinion piece by van der Westhuizen and several of her Oxford colleagues arguing "that face coverings should be considered not as medical equipment but as a social practice informed by norms and expectations."
I'm sure some of you can see where this is going.
van der Westhuizen et al write: "The dominant narrative driving (mask) policy has viewed face coverings as a medical intervention and evaluated their effectiveness from an infection control perspective."
As it bloody well should. We have been incessantly told the reason for masking is that it stops the spread of airborne viruses like Sars-Cov-2, and this will therefore reduce the prevalence of COVID-19.
Such a claim should be evaluated by controlled scientific research examining the effectiveness of masks for that purpose, not PR and propaganda.
Numerous randomized clinical trials examining the effect of masks on the spread of influenza viruses (including the rebranded version known as Sars-Cov-2) have been conducted, and they show no benefit for masks. There's even a plethora of epidemiological evidence that has been unable to be twisted into showing a benefit for masks.
This reality presents a conundrum to pro-maskers and pro-conformists like van der Westhuizen and her Oxford colleagues, so they largely ignore RCTs. They devote a mere 3 paragraphs to the topic, complaining most RCTs were conducted in medical settings (apparently nurses, doctors and patients are physiological supra-human freaks bearing little resemblance to the rest of us).
They then resort to an especially stupid standby argument to rationalize these RCTs away. They complain these RCTs "addressed their efficacy in protecting the wearer from infection, not as source control."
You got that? "Source control," according to these intellectual giants, is more important than actually preventing infection!
And to think Oxford is one of the world's top 5-rated universities. That speaks volumes as to the truly dismal state of modern education.
Just what is "source control," I hear some of you asking?
"Source control," says the CDC, "refers to use of respirators or well-fitting facemasks or cloth masks to cover a person’s mouth and nose to prevent spread of respiratory secretions when they are breathing, talking, sneezing, or coughing."
Well that sure sounds like trying to prevent infection to me!
What the Oxford researchers seem to be saying, in their own unique and highly irrational top-5 university manner, is that trials in which people wear masks are OK for assessing protection of the wearer from viruses that cause respiratory infections, but are unsuited to establishing whether the wearers can transmit those same viruses.
It's an idiotic argument, and not just because filtration studies show viral-sized particles can easily pass through mask materials, or because easily-replicated experiments show that exhaled air escapes easily around the edges of a face mask.
It's an inherently idiotic argument because, when all is said and done, the rationale behind wearing masks is to prevent infection. Period.
And the purpose of an intervention trial is to examine the effect of the intervention on the people who use it.
If we perform a RCT involving heart medication, we are not examining the effect of the medication on those who do not use it. That would be known in common parlance as fucking ridiculous.
If we performed a RCT to examine the effect of a performance-enhancing supplement, and it found no performance benefit in those randomized to take it, we would not blame the supplement's failure on the control participants who did not use it. Because, again, that would be beyond stupid.
So forget about the non-masked: If mask-wearers are protected by their facial underwear, then any randomized trial with a mask arm of meaningful size should evince a significantly lower rate of infection.
Unfortunately for the pro-maskers, that's not what has happened, so they resort to the "if you can't blind them with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit" approach. They wank on about infection, transmission and source control, to make you lose sight of the fact that trial after trial has shown people who wear masks experience no reduction in infection.
Unfortunately, as the last 2 years have demonstrated beyond doubt, the majority of people are quite ignorant and gullible and therefore easily baffled. Which is great news for pro-maskers. Unless a RCT meets the impossible requirement of being performed in an environment where just about everyone is wearing masks (in which case, for very obvious reasons, it would no longer be a RCT featuring a mask and no-mask arm), they can always claim there were too many unmasked people in these studies. Without proof but backed by ignorant assumptions that masks are effective, they can further claim these unmasked people were sabotaging the ability of masks to prevent infection.
Yes, it's circular bullshit, but modern academia - which takes its money and agendas from industry and government - thrives on this kind of irrationality.
And so, having baffled readers with a spinning kaleidoscope of toro turd, van der Westhuizen et al move on to their real agenda: Social control.
"Face coverings are also a social practice and carry a range of meanings in different settings," they tell us. "Policies to encourage uptake should reflect the complex and contested sociocultural meanings of covering the face and draw on these to promote their use."
In other words: "Face masks do sweet-FA to stop influenza infections, but we want people to wear them anyway. Because we can't point to anything resembling good science to recommend their use, we suggest an escalated deployment of propaganda, unscientific claims and manipulation of cultural and social norms!"
While van der Westhuizen et al could only muster three dismissive paragraphs for the all-important topic of RCTs, they devote almost an entire page of their 6-page paper to a picture of "London Jazz singer Kitty LaRoar," who is "wearing a matching face covering with her vintage outfit."
Yes, when in doubt, capitalize on the human tendency to emulate celebrities, whose lives tend to be dominated by dysfunction, drama and substance abuse.
Here's a free and valuable life tip, folks: Whatever celebrities are doing, do the opposite. Because celebrities are, by and large, a pack of clueless degenerates.
If you need guidance in life, don't seek it from a bunch of self-absorbed twats who think life balance is binging on cocaine one day, then getting a colon cleanse the next.
Big Sister Says: "Ve Must Reframe Your Zoughts!"
"For a policy of public masking to succeed," continue van der Westhuizen et al, "negative depictions of the social meaning and moral worth of face coverings need to be actively reframed."
Translated: "We can't have the sheeple thinking they are being muzzled, and that being forced to wear a useless face nappy is an abrogation of their individual rights! Sheesh, civil liberties are so yesteryear! So let's hit them with a barrage of PR hogwash to 'reframe' their perceptions."
Another name for this kind of manipulative carry on is thought control.
"Given that the main purpose of face coverings by the public is source control, wearers could be depicted as altruistic or even as protectors."
What a pearler. They're now claiming "source control" is the main point of wearing masks. And that if you engage in this ephemeral wank known as "source control" you are a magnificent altruist, a heroic protector of society!
Altruism is great when practiced on an interpersonal and community level. Making sacrifices for your family, doing volunteer work, rescuing abandoned animals, checking in on your elderly neighbors - anyone who can find fault with such benevolent practices is probably a pretty sour human being.
But when you hear politicians and technocratic researchers talking about "altruism," run for the hills! Because, rest assured, they are not talking about assisting the less fortunate or helping your elderly neigbors. What they are really talking about is surrendering your freedoms "for the greater good," which of course means for their good and the good of their elitist comrades. That's why altruistic and collectivist rhetoric is inevitably an integral part of freedom-crushing systems like communism and fascism.
And all feelgood wankery about altruism aside, what is the point of "source control" if it is not preventing infections? Doesn't it take infected people to spread infections? Or are we really catching the 2019-2020 seasonal flu (and its 'variants,' the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasonal influenzas) from a bunch of invisible bats and pangolins?
It's a moot point, because only a Vivian would fail to see this is about behavioral control and manipulation, not preventing the spread of a rebranded seasonal flu.
This take-one-for-the-team PR campaign, says van der Westhuizen et al, "could create new symbolism around wearing, making, and distributing face coverings that is based on social responsibility and solidarity against a common threat."
Ah, yes, symbolism based on "social responsibility and solidarity against a common threat." Gee, where have we seen that before?
Hmmm, let's see: Freemasonry versus "the profane" (i.e., everyone who is not a Freemason). Communism versus capitalists (i.e., anyone who is deemed by the state to own too much). Nazi Germany versus ... the world.
Yes, using symbolism based on "social responsibility and solidarity against a common threat" has a pretty sinister history, but never mind - we're fighting a rebranded flu here! One with an infection fatality rate of 0.15%, for crying out loud! If that doesn't justify a faceless New World Order, then what does?
Nothing, to be frank. Absolutely nothing justifies the utter shitshow currently transpiring on this mentally ill planet.
Hitler reportedly despised Freemasons, but admired their use of "esoteric doctrine," "symbols," "mysterious [and] symbolic rites." The mustachioed one decreed that his party should learn to do the same, and so the Nazis became masters at using symbolism based on "social responsibility and solidarity" to unite the masses "against a common threat." We all know how that turned out...
Crazy little men with funny little moustaches were hardly the only ones to use symbolism to foment atrocity, uh, I mean, to unite the masses "against a common threat." Here's 1945-era Uncle Sam in all his xenophobic glory, telling the Japanese they're next in line for a mighty military-industrial ass-kicking.
If you can't cite solid science in support of your mask edicts, and instead need to emulate the modus operandi of secret societies and warmongers in order to convince people of those edicts, then your edicts are pure garbage.
Well, Look Who's Here
The remaining list of authors of the PNAS paper is overwhelmingly dominated by computer scientists, biostatisticians and deep learning/AI researchers. A rather odd ensemble, it must be said, for a supposedly sweeping review of the evidence for masks in the prevention of an infectious respiratory disease.
There are people like Danny Hernandez, a "Research Scientist" at San Francisco start-up OpenAI where his focus is "Measuring and forecasting AI progress." OpenAI was founded in San Francisco in late 2015 by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and others, who collectively pledged US $1 billion. In 2019, OpenAI LP received a further US $1 billion investment from Microsoft.
The only researcher out of this lot whose work actually has an infectious disease focus is Dr. Anne W. Rimoin, a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of California Los Angeles. Major supporters of Rimoin's research include none other than the hopelessly corrupt arm of Big Pharma known as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the pandemic- and vaccine-obsessed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "and other private and public organizations."
And so Rimoin's major funders include pivotal disseminators of dubious COVID dogma such as the Gates', FDA and NIAID, yet she audaciously declares in a paper devoted to masks and COVID-19 that she has "no competing interest."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the caliber of individual behind the PNAS paper. I'm underwhelmed, to say the least.
Let's now look at what this collaboration of "deep learners" and WEF/FDA/Gates/Fauci-affiliated researchers reported in their paper.
We'll Pick the Science that Suits Our Needs, Thank You Very Much
Howard et al write: "The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts."
That's a blatant lie. One they support by ignoring the preponderance of non-supporting evidence and carefully hand-picking a small selection of supporting evidence.
For example, they claim "Chu et al. looked at physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2. They found that 'face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection.'"
The Chu review/meta-analysis made the astounding claim that face mask use "could result in a large reduction in risk of infection" of 85%, although they did admit the finding was of "low certainty."
Well that's an understatement.
Because in the results section of the paper, we learn all of the studies included in the Chu analysis were "observational in nature; no randomised trials were identified of any interventions that directly addressed the included study populations."
In other words, the 2020 Chu analysis was based entirely on uncontrolled epidemiological slop. Despite numerous mask trials having already been published, Chu et al claimed they could not identify any relevant RCTs.
Howard et al then claim in their pre-DANMASK paper, "There has been one controlled trial of mask use for influenza control in the general community. The study looked at Australian households, was not done during a pandemic, and was done without any enforcement of compliance. It found that 'in an adjusted analysis of compliant subjects, masks as a group had protective efficacy in excess of 80% against clinical influenza-like illness.'” The Australian authors noted compliance was low, but claimed in compliant users "masks were highly effective at reducing transmission."
For reasons they fail to explain, Howard et al reference a brief 2008 poster presentation abstract of this Australia study, and ignore the peer-reviewed full text which was published the following year.
A clue as to why they might have taken this highly unusual and otherwise inexplicable step comes from comparing the author lists of the two. The abstract lists eight authors, whereas the 2009 paper has 11. Among the three new authors that materialized between publication of the abstract and the full text is none other than the disgraced Neil "Lock Down, Pants Down" Ferguson.
Another reason Howard et al might want to divert us to a brief non-peer reviewed abstract instead of the full text is because the latter reveals that head author C. Raina MacIntyre has received grants for clinical research from 3M - a major manufacturer of face masks.
The full text also reveals MacIntyre's colleague Michael Fasher has received grants from and served as advisor/consultant to corporate criminal GlaxoSmithKline. Another co-author, Robert Booy, has received grants from, and has served as advisor/consultant not just to GSK, but also Roche, Sanofi, Wyeth and Australian vaccine manufacturer and sleazy distributor of contaminated blood products CSL.
It also reveals that he with the wayward pecker, Neil "The Master of Disaster" Ferguson, has served as advisor/consultant to Crucell Inc. - now known as Janssen Vaccines, which developed Johnson & Johnson's viral vector COVID clot shot.
So we're not exactly dealing with an impartial, let alone remotely skeptical, group of researchers here.
And what did this group of mask manufacturer- and pharma-friendly researchers find?
First things first: No, their study was not conducted during a pandemic, but we are not in a pandemic now, and any claim to the contrary is charlatanistic bullshit of the highest order. What has happened over the last two years is that people have been infected with a seasonal flu virus that has been rebadged as Sars-Cov-2. The common colds, flu-like symptoms and pneumonia predictably resulting from this influenza have been rebranded "COVID-19" (as have heart attacks, kidney disease and even murder-suicides). Not content with surreptitiously re-assigning non-respiratory causes of death, the pre-planned use of non-specific and error-prone testing methods (notably PCR) was deployed globally in order to inflate the "COVID-19" death toll.
And even after all this chicanery, the infection fatality rate of this so-called pandemic is a mere 0.15% - right on par with regular seasonal flu. Hardly surprising, given that's exactly what it is.
And that 0.15% is overwhelmingly dominated by predominantly nursing home residents, who have "tragically" died after outliving the national life expectancy. Even in Italy, one of the countries supposedly hardest hit by COVID-19, government researchers had to admit that, as of early July 2020, the average age of people allegedly dying of COVID-19 in Italy was 85 years. Remember, this was smack bang in the middle of a pandemic we were repeatedly being told was decimating Italy.
But the average life expectancy for Italians has hovered around 83 years for the last several years. Which means the news of Italian COVID "victims" we were being bombarded with was actually discussing people who had already outlived most of their peers!
In the game of life, that's called "winning"!
The only true pandemics we have been subjected to over the last 2 years have been viral bullshit and an alarming loss of civil liberties.
So Howard et al's complaint that the study was not conducted during a pandemic is a non-issue and a diversion.
The study was conducted in the Australian winters of 2006 and 2007 which, funnily enough, is the best time of year to conduct a study looking at the prevention of an ailment that occurs predominantly in winter.
It was a very small study: 94 adults were randomized to surgical masks, 90 to P2 masks (or what we now call N95 masks) and 102 to the control group. Not surprisingly, given MacIntyre's affiliations, the masks were supplied by 3M.
The researchers found, I quote, " no significant difference in the relative risk of [influenza-like illness] in the mask use groups compared with the control group."
However, "compliance with mask use was less than 50%," they stated.
Now, read the next bit carefully. First I'm going to quote from the abstract, because that's what was quoted by Howard et al:
"In an adjusted analysis of compliant subjects, masks as a group had protective efficacy in excess of 80% against clinical influenza-like illness." (Bold emphasis added).
Howard et al share this line in their PNAS paper, but blissfully ignore the sentence that immediately follows:
"The efficacy against proven viral infection and between P2 masks (57%) and surgical masks (33%) was non-significant." (Bold emphasis added).
So in this study, compliant subjects had a reportedly lower incidence of "influenza-like illness."
The criteria for "influenza-like illness" was so liberal, participants could be diagnosed based on the presence of 2 or more of the following symptoms: Sore throat, cough, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, headache - even though these symptoms routinely occur in perfectly healthy people during winter. Heck, dusty environments in the summer months can bring on these symptoms. And let's not forget people with hay fever (which the researchers appear to have made no attempt to pre-screen for), who also commonly experience these symptoms despite being influenza-free.
So the observation that masks allegedly reduced "influenza-like illness" in this study is meaningless; that could have simply been an artefact of reduced dust, pollen or mold inhalation, or plain old misdiagnosis.
In a study examining the ability of masks to prevent actual viral infections, what really matters is the actual difference in viral infections. And when the researchers tested participants with symptoms of respiratory illness via "a series of multiplex RT-PCR tests" for influenza A and B and RSV, PIV types 1–3, picornaviruses, adenoviruses, coronaviruses 229E and OC43, and hMPV, they found no difference, even for those who were reportedly mask compliant.
That right there spells failure for masks, but there's more to this story, and it doesn't paint a very complimentary picture for Howard et al.
Remember how they inexplicably cited the brief half-page abstract while ignoring the full peer-reviewed paper?
In addition to hiding the author affiliations that appeared in the full MacIntyre et al paper, Howard et al had another strong motive for selectively citing the abstract.
Playing Hide and Seek With the Facts
In their abstract, MacIntyre et al claimed compliant subjects enjoyed 80+% protection against "influenza-like illness," a claim which Howard et al eagerly and selectively seized upon. But we have no idea of how many of the subjects were fully or partially complaint
The full published paper, however, contained an appendix with a sub-analysis of fully adherent, partially adherent and non-adherent participants. Full compliance, by the way, was defined as wearing the mask 'all' or 'most' of the time for the first consecutive 5 days.
The table shows that only 1 fully adherent mask user suffered "clinical illness" and "laboratory confirmed" infection, compared to 16 and 3 of the control subjects, respectively. Sounds like a clear win for masks, until you realize only 30 (16%) of the 186 mask subjects were fully compliant.
Meanwhile, all 100 control subjects were included in the analysis - hardly a fair comparison, considering a random drawing of 16 (16%) of the 100 control subjects could quite easily have resulted in a subgroup with zero cases.
When all mask users with some level of compliance were included in the comparison (146 subjects), the picture changed dramatically.
Eighteen (12.3%) of the fully- and partially-compliant maskers versus 16 (16%) of the controls experienced "influenza-like illness." That in itself is a piddling difference, but when both groups were tested to see if their vaguely defined symptoms actually emanated from a respiratory virus, the results for fully- and partially-compliant maskers were even less flattering: Nine (6%) of maskers versus 3 (3%) of controls were diagnosed with confirmed infections.
The MacIntyre study, in short, completely failed to show a benefit for masks.
Yes, it was small and compliance was far-from-perfect. But with a higher rate of confirmed infection among adherent maskers, be it statistically significant or not, the study was not in any way supportive of masks.
Of course, that's not how the 3M-friendly MacIntyre and her colleagues reported it.
They proffered that, "In retrospect, relying on laboratory-confirmed cases as the primary outcome may have been unrealistic for a study of this size."
Instead, they talked up the reduction in "influenza-like illness," a vague and largely meaningless category that could include having a harmless sniffle and feeling tired after a late night. They buried the fact that, collectively, mask users reporting any degree of compliance had no reduction in lab-confirmed infection compared to non-maskers.
They also gave only brief mention to the reasons for non-compliance, without further discussion of their implications. The main reason for non-adherence was that wearing a face mask was uncomfortable. Another concern was that the children of participants did "not want the parent wearing a mask." Other reasons given included that the mask did not fit well and that it was not practical to wear at meal time or while asleep.
Stop and think about this for a moment. Wearing a mask is unnatural. Period. Humans did not evolve to walk around rebreathing stale CO2 from a small receptacle strapped to their face.
And young children in their formative years, it seems, want to see their parents' faces and their expressions. They apparently want to hear their parents' voices clearly, not muffled by a layer of cloth or synthetic plastic fibers.
Who would've thought?
If we are going to embrace interventions that are inherently unnatural and interfere with normal, healthy human interaction, then there better be a damn good reason.
Citing a study that fails to show any reduction in lab-confirmed viral infection is not a damn good reason. It's an insult.
To conclude from the MacIntyre study that "masks were highly efficacious," as Howard et al do in their PNAS paper, is a bad joke.
But Howard et al, it seems, have a rather warped sense of humor.
They cite yet another study by MacIntyre, this time an August 2020 "rapid systematic review" of face masks and respirators against coronaviruses and other respiratory viruses.
Here's what MacIntyre and her University of New South Wales colleague Abrar Ahmad Chughtai conclude in that paper:
"The study suggests that community mask use by well people could be beneficial, particularly for COVID-19, where transmission may be pre-symptomatic. The studies of masks as source control also suggest a benefit, and may be important during the COVID-19 pandemic in universal community face mask use as well as in health care settings. Trials in healthcare workers support the use of respirators continuously during a shift. This may prevent health worker infections and deaths from COVID-19, as aerosolisation in the hospital setting has been documented." (Bold emhasis added)
Note the very liberal use of weasel words: "Could be," "suggest/suggests," "may be."
We all know what that means.
Yep: After scouring the literature for trials supporting, excuse me, examining mask use, the 19 (actually, 18) randomized controlled trials they reportedly retrieved overwhelmingly failed to show any discernible benefit for mask use.
To stop this article from turning into the mask version of War and Peace, and because van der Westhuizen et al have already made it clear they believe mask studies involving healthcare workers to be irrelevant, I'll focus on the "community" studies analyzed by MacIntyre and Chughtai.
The duo claimed to have found eight trials conducted in community settings; in reality two papers addressed the same trial, one being a preliminary report.
Which further demonstrates what an utter farce the PNAS paper is. One minute Howard et al claim there has been only one controlled trial of masks against influenza in the general community - the next they cite a review containing multiple such trials.
Says a lot about the modern peer review process, doesn't it?
One of the studies MacIntyre and Chughtai cited was the former's own small Australian trial that we just discussed. The results for that study were described by the duo thusly:
"Intention to treat non-significant ... In sub-analysis, masks/P2 protective if adherent."
For reasons already discussed, that's a misleading description.
The Cowling trial that they double-cited examined the use of face masks and hand washing. Cowling et al reported that hand hygiene with or without facemasks "seemed" to reduce influenza transmission, but the differences with the control group were not significant.
Cowling et al performed a subgroup analysis that was ignored by MacIntyre and Chughtai, despite the fact this duo are quite fond of citing subgroup analyses. Contrary to MacIntyre's 2009 trial, Cowling et al found an increase in "clinical influenza" in the mask+hand hygiene group compared to the hand hygiene only and control groups. In fact, when defined as "temperature 37.8 °C plus cough or sore throat," the odds of being diagnosed with clinical influenza were 68% greater in the mask+hand hygiene group.
Again, MacIntyre and Chughtai kinda sorta forgot to mention that.
They seemed keen to point out that in the 6-week Aiello et al 2010 trial, "Masks + handwashing [were] protective in week 4-6 of observation and beyond." What they weren't so keen on sharing is that face masks alone offered no significant protection at any specific time point nor cumulatively.
MacIntyre and Chughtai did, however, acknowledge that in Aiello et al 2012 (Masks + hand hygiene): "Masks alone [were] not protective."
The Larson et al 2010 trial compared the effect of 1) health education; 2) health education+alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and; 3) education+hand sanitizer+face masks on incidence and secondary transmission of upper respiratory infections and influenza.
The study found no detectable additional benefit of hand sanitizer or face masks over targeted education on overall rates of URIs, but claimed "mask wearing was associated with reduced secondary transmission and should be encouraged during outbreak situations."
This conclusion is problematic for a number of reasons. The study contained no health education+mask only group. The alleged benefits for face masks were assumed from the reduction in secondary attack rates experienced by the education+hand sanitizer+mask group. However, compliance with mask-wearing in that group was very poor. The researchers also reported that the education+hand sanitizer+mask group had the lowest percentage of household members with no reported symptoms, a finding that was both statistically significant and at odds with any claim for reduced infection, be it primary or secondary.
Symptoms were reported by telephone, and while data were collected for upper respiratory infections and influenza-like illness, only the latter triggered a home visit by researchers for testing (of influenza). There were a total of 3,463 episodes of URI, ILI, or influenza, but only 234 deep nasal swabs obtained from the 669 episodes of ILI.
Despite this, URI, ILI, or influenza were considered together when ascertaining efficacy rates. But when the rate of confirmed influenza was considered separately, there were no differences between any of the groups.
Larson 2010, in short, showed no scientifically tenable benefit for masks.
Simmerman et al 2011, which examined masks+hand hygiene, was reported by MacIntyre and Chughtai as showing "No significant difference in confirmed influenza infection" (the risk of secondary influenza infection was non-significantly higher in the hand-washing and handwashing+mask groups compared with control).
Suess et al 2012 found no statistically significant effect of mask and mask + handwashing interventions on secondary infections in houses with an index (preexisting) influenza case. It wasn't for lack of trying: They twisted and squeezed and worked the data through a multitude of sub-analyses. After excluding non-adherent study participants, the researchers found a 70% reduction in RT-PCR confirmed influenza among mask participants - but not mask+hygiene participants.
Again, this study is problematic. While PCR-confirmed influenza was reduced in the mask group but not the mask+hygiene group, the opposite result was seen for PCR-confirmed A/H1N1 pdm09 infection - adding hand hygiene, rather than a mask, produced a statistically significant reduction in the odds ratio.
It was a small study, involving 84 households and 302 individual participants. Compliance with face mask wearing across the two intervention groups dropped quickly during the 2009/2010 flu season to plateau between 50 and 60%, while during the 2010/2011 season it never exceeded 60% in the mask-only group and hovered under 40% in the mask+hand washing group.
Running a multitude of ad hoc, after the fact analyses is problematic enough in itself. As renowned British economist Ronald H. Coase famously remarked, “if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything." In addition, booting out half the participants in an already small study while you perform those multiple analyses greatly reduces confidence in the robustness of those findings.
Epidemiologist Alyson Haslam from Oklahoma State University summed it up nicely in a published response to the MacIntyre and Chugtai paper:
"Of the seven separate randomized studies MacIntyre and Chughtai include in their review, none of them show a benefit of face mask use in the community to prevent the incidence of respiratory viruses, and the results of the sub-analyses are equivocal, sometimes suggesting that masks prevent virus transmission but other times increase transmission. Based upon these studies, there is little evidence to show that face masks prevent influenza and influenza-like illnesses. It may be that face masks for COVID19 will have different outcomes, but we cannot know for sure until an adequately powered, well-conducted randomized trial is performed, one of which is set to be completed in July 2020 (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04337541)."
The impending trial she was referring to was DANMASK, which of course has now been published. The highest quality "community" trial of face masks to date, it showed no benefit for face masks, as I explained in detail in Part 3.
The work of Howard et al and MacIntyre et al is not science - it is preconceived dogma masquerading as science. These researchers have not gathered the evidence, analyzed it in good faith, and then formed their conclusions (as true scientists do).
Instead, they have reached their pro-mask conclusions beforehand, then set about gathering studies that appear to support those conclusions. Non-supportive studies are either ignored or their results are disingenuously reported in a manner that makes them appear supportive.
They ignore reviews such as those by Jefferson et al in the well-known Cochrane database, which concluded "There is low certainty evidence from nine trials that wearing a mask may make little or no difference to the outcome of influenza-like illness compared to not wearing a mask. There is moderate certainty evidence that wearing a mask probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of laboratory-confirmed influenza compared to not wearing a mask. Harms were rarely measured and poorly reported."
They ignore the findings of Xiao et al, despite the fact they were published in the CDC's widely read journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, no doubt because the Hong Kong researchers noted that "Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza."
Again, ignoring contradictory research is not good science - it's intellectual dishonesty, and receiving a fat paycheck via industry, your industry-funded faculty or a conglomerate of power-hungry globalist technocrats does not make it okay.
As for Vivian and her ilk, who smugly, triumphantly and ludicrously tout such dishonesty as definitive, debate-ending proof of whatever screwball belief system they have succumbed to, I have the following free advice:
Pull your head out of your rump and take a good long hard look in the mirror, where you'll discover who the real "conspiracy theorist," "denier" and "anti-scientist" is.
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