by Ian Miller
Despite years of evidence proving otherwise, masks simply won’t go away.
School districts across the United States are returning to masking policies, and a number of cities have also issued strong recommendations for residents to wear masks.
Years of evidence-free claims from experts and politicians have created a permanent class of people unable to end their obsessive commitment to pseudoscience.
For a society with a substantial number of adults already suffering from rapidly diminishing mental health, masks, for some, were the final straw.
One such example is a recent New York Times article examining the remaining holdouts who refuse to rejoin normal life.
Unsurprisingly, they include doctors, individuals who mask inside homes, and a couple who seemingly would only be photographed wearing industrial respirators.
Naturally, recent research also concluded that “higher quality” masks make no difference to the spread of infections.
Unfortunately, thanks to media priorities and poor quality research, the proliferation of mask misinformation continues.
One such example of purposefully misleading pro-mask activism was published earlier this year. And naturally, it got plenty of attention despite being entirely ridiculous.
Modeling Strikes Again
Modeling has been a corrosive influence on COVID discussions since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Initially, politicians like Dr. Fauci relied upon hopelessly inept models from institutions like the University of Washington to strike fear into the population.
Their assumptions, which were off by orders of magnitude, created the belief among “experts” and politicians that hospitals in the United States would almost immediately be overwhelmed with COVID patients.
They also incorporated incomprehensibly incorrect speculation that led to assumptions that millions of Americans would die without intervention.
When their hospitalization preconceptions were proven wrong, modelers shifted their attention to promoting masks.
Revisiting some of their absurdist conclusions shows that when discussing COVID policy, it is utterly pointless to use modeling.
On July 3, 2020, NPR published a story stating that models suggested “tens of thousands of lives” could be saved if more people complied.
A few months later Francis Collins, the head of the literal National Institutes of Health posted on his blog and used modeling to advocate for continued masking, despite the lack of evidence behind it.
By late October models had become so histrionic that media headlines grew increasingly absurd.
Newsweek had perhaps the best example of the delusional assumptions that politicians and experts unquestioningly believed:
“Over 800,000 Lives Could Be Saved in 4 Months if Everyone in the World Wore Masks”
This nonsensical belief was repeated ad nauseam without criticism. And it undoubtedly influenced public and political opinions on masking.
The modeling group claimed that ending mandates would result in over 3 million COVID deaths globally in just a few months, while universal mask wearing would reduce it to 2.18 million.
In a scenario where mandates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were eased and no steps were taken to reintroduce them for six weeks, the team believes there could be 3 million coronavirus deaths between August 28 to January 1. However, if masks were used almost universally this would drop to an estimated 2.18 million deaths.
What actually happened during that time frame?
The cumulative chart of global COVID deaths shows how monumentally inaccurate models have been.
IHME predicted that over 3 million people would die from COVID between August 28th and January 1st, but with universal masking, it would be 2.18 million.
Reality was far, far different.
During that time frame 941,865 deaths were actually reported.
Why? Because the model wildly, WILDLY overestimated the severity of COVID, even before the vaccines arrived.
Clearly both the 800,000 number and the headline were proven entirely ridiculous almost immediately.
To this day there have been 6.7 million COVID deaths reported, in just under three full years. Yet IHME assumed 3.2 million would die in four months without masking.
This long-winded explanation is to say that models are unreliable at the best of times, and have proven to be utterly hopeless when it comes to COVID.
But sure enough, that’s exactly what the researchers did here. They modeled the supposed impact of mask mandates across the world.
That’s the headline issue, but naturally the problems go much deeper than that.
This study was published in Science Direct and like many others, received immediate attention.
A quick examination at their abstract immediately uncovers some significant issues.
In a retrospective cohort study, changes in COVID-19‒related daily mortality rate per million population from February 15 to May 31, 2020 were compared between 27 countries with and 17 countries without face mask mandates in nearly 1 billion (911,446,220 total) people. Longitudinal mixed effect modeling was applied and adjusted for over 10 relevant demographic, social, clinical, and time-dependent confounders.
As mentioned, they used modeling to arrive at their conclusions.
This study’s significant results show that face mask mandates were associated with lower COVID-19 deaths rates than the rates in countries without mandates. These findings support the use of face masks to prevent excess COVID-19 deaths and should be advised during airborne disease epidemics.
But notice the dates as well: February to May 2020.
This is somewhere beyond cherry picking, it’s purposefully misleading.
Using that time period for a study published in 2022 is absolutely nonsensical. Early on in the outbreak, testing rates varied wildly between countries with some not fully ramping up reporting until March.
They justified this time period by claiming that other non-pharmaceutical intervention policies were identical:
“This period was objectively selected because all countries, both with and without mask policies, had homogeneously implemented restrictions of movement and gathering.”
This is a blatant lie. And we can see it’s a lie by looking at the countries included.
Included in the host of “non-mask mandate” countries were both Sweden and Italy. You could not have two more wildly varied COVID responses, especially early on in the outbreak, than Sweden and Italy.
Italy almost immediately went into lockdown due to perceived “early,” rapid spread of the virus. March 9th, 2020, Italy became essentially the first western country to essentially force residents to stay home.
Sweden, by contrast, never locked down. For the most part, schools remained open. Residents were not forced to stay home. Restrictions were so light that they were heavily criticized as being an “experiment,” despite following pre-pandemic guidelines.
Listing Sweden and Italy as “homogenous” restrictions of movement and gathering is an immediately discrediting statement.
It’s important to mention that Italy did in fact have a mask mandate during this time period. They mandated masks inside shops and on public transit as early as May 6th, yet are included as a non-mandate country through May 31st.
They made the same mistake with France.
France was also listed as a “non-mandate” country despite imposing their first mask mandate on May 10th.
And of course it goes without saying that France had much harsher restrictions on movement and gathering than countries like Sweden or Norway.
Spain was also listed as a non-mandate country with similar restrictions on movement and gathering.
But wait. There’s more.