Here are various sources related to Covid and the response to it. These come from roughly the first year of the Covid era and may provide a helpful resource for folks.
We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.
Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers
A Randomized Controlled Trial:
"A total of 3030 participants were randomly assigned to the recommendation to wear masks, and 2994 were assigned to control; 4862 completed the study. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 42 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53 control participants (2.1%). The between-group difference was −0.3 percentage point (95% CI, −1.2 to 0.4 percentage point; P = 0.38) (odds ratio, 0.82 [CI, 0.54 to 1.23]; P = 0.33). Multiple imputation accounting for loss to follow-up yielded similar results."
“Nonpharmaceutpical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures.” Published in: “Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol.26, No. 5, May 2020.” (That journal is published by the CDC.)
I quote from the abstract: “Here, we review the evidence base on the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical personal protective measures and environmental hygiene measures in non-healthcare settings and discuss their potential inclusion in pandemic plans. 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. We similarly found limited evidence on the effectiveness of improved hygiene and environmental cleaning.”
Here are quotes from pages 970-972 of the review: “In our systematic review, we identified 10 RCTs \[randomized controlled trials\] that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community from literature published during 1946–July 27, 2018. In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks…”
“Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids… There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”
“In this review, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of personal protective measures or environmental measures in reducing influenza transmission.”
“We did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility…”
"Between 2004 and 2016 at least a dozen research or review articles have been published on the inadequacies of face masks. 5,6,11,17,19,20,21,25,26,27,28,31 All agree that the poor facial fit and limited filtration characteristics of face masks make them unable to prevent the wearer inhaling airborne particles. In their well-referenced 2011 article on respiratory protection for healthcare workers, Drs. Harriman and Brosseau conclude that, “facemasks will not protect against the inhalation of aerosols.” 11 Following their 2015 literature review, Dr. Zhou and colleagues stated, “There is a lack of substantiated evidence to support claims that facemasks protect either patient or surgeon from infectious contamination.” 25 In the same year Dr. R. MacIntyre noted that randomized controlled trials of facemasks failed to prove their efficacy. 5 In August 2016 responding to a question on the protection from facemasks the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety replied:
The filter material of surgical masks does not retain or filter out submicron particles;
Surgical masks are not designed to eliminate air leakage around the edges;
Surgical masks do not protect the wearer from inhaling small particles that can remain airborne for long periods of time. 31
In 2015, Dr. Leonie Walker, Principal Researcher of the New Zealand Nurses Organization succinctly described- within a historical context – the inadequacies of facemasks, “Health care workers have long relied heavily on surgical masks to provide protection against influenza and other infections. Yet there are no convincing scientific data that support the effectiveness of masks for respiratory protection. The masks we use are not designed for such purposes, and when tested, they have proved to vary widely in filtration capability, allowing penetration of aerosol particles ranging from four to 90%.” 35
"We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic."
The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI (influenza like illness) statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%
The Great Barrington Declaration – As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed. Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza. As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity. The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals. Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity. On October 4, 2020
The two-hour virtual panel, which highlighted controversial scientists from Harvard and Stanford universities, spanned several themes the Governor has touched on over the half-year the pandemic has impacted Florida. The common thread throughout the talk was that lockdowns are detrimental and the role of herd immunity in society, a politically-charged concept. “Everything we’ve heard here, for example, in treating age groups differently, makes complete sense,” said Michael Levitt, a professor of structural biology at Stanford. “The need to let young people interact with each other, both for social reasons and for herd immunity, makes perfectly good common sense. I think there should have been more of that.” DeSantis backed the need for students to live their lives and stressed that the current skew of infections toward young Floridians is precisely what the state wanted. “What helps the elderly is if the young take this very minimal risk and live normal life until there’s herd immunity, and then, when we have herd immunity, then the older people can also live more normal lives,” said Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a professor at Harvard Medical School
Mask mandates, in his view, don’t limit COVID-19 spread. Rather, they increase social strife. Lockdowns, all three scientists present agreed, are more detrimental to public health than the benefits of closing schools, restaurants and beaches. Kulldorff pointed to public health problems such as fewer regular hospital visits and mental health concerns that arise with lockdowns. “Do we really want zero COVID?” Bhattacharya said. “To get zero COVID, I don’t know if it’s even technically feasible, but we know that we’re going to have to destroy our society in order to get it. We’ll have to get rid of all of our freedoms, we’ll have to make sure that very few people interact with each other. It essentially is so high a cost that it’s not worth it.”
Mandated lockdowns had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus. The charts below show the daily case curves for the United States as a whole and for thirteen U.S. states. As in almost every country, we consistently see a steep climb as the virus spreads, followed by a transition (marked by the gray circles) to a flatter curve. At some point, the curves always slope downward, though this wasn’t obvious for all states until the summer.
we see in this data not only a lack of evidence that lockdowns caused the curves to bend, but also evidence of the very early stages of herd immunity.
"We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus" and "we really do appeal to world leaders, stop using lockdown as your primary control method."
"We think lockdowns only serve one purpose, and that is to give a bit of breathing space to stop everything, the virus stops moving, and while you've got that breathing space you should be really building your testing, building up your contact tracing, build up your local organization, so that as you release lockdown you're bound to get more cases but you can deal with it really, really elegantly,"
"The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large we'd rather not do it." He pointed to regions where tourism has suffered, the effects on farmers, and poverty levels.
"We really do appeal to world leaders, stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems, for doing it, work together and learn from each other, but remember lockdowns just have one consequence you must never ever belittle and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer."
Fully referenced facts about covid-19, provided by experts in the field, to help our readers make a realistic risk assessment. (Regular updates below).
“The only means to fight the plague is honesty.” (Albert Camus, 1947)
Lethality: According to the latest immunological studies, the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) of covid-19 in the general population is about 0.1% to 0.5% in most countries, which is comparable to the medium influenza pandemics of 1957 and 1968.
Treatment: For people at high risk or high exposure, early or prophylactic treatment is essential to prevent progression of the disease and avoid hospitalization.
Age profile: The median age of covid deaths is over 80 years in most countries and only about 5% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. In contrast to pandemic influenza, the age and risk profile of covid mortality is thus comparable to normal mortality and increases it proportionally.
Nursing homes: In many Western countries, up to two thirds of all covid deaths have occurred in nursing homes, which require targeted and humane protection. In some cases it is not clear whether the residents really died of covid or of weeks of stress and isolation.
Excess mortality: Up to 30% of all additional deaths may have been caused not by covid, but by the effects of lockdowns, panic and fear. For example, the treatment of heart attacks and strokes decreased by up to 40% because many patients no longer dared to go to hospital.
Antibodies: By summer 2020, global hotspots such as New York City and Bergamo had reached antibody levels of approximately 25%. Capital cities such as Madrid, London and Stockholm were around 15%. Large parts of Europe and the US, however, were still below 5%.
Symptoms: Up to 40% of all infected persons show no symptoms, about 80% show at most mild symptoms, and about 95% show at most moderate symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Mild cases may be due to protective T-cells from earlier common cold coronavirus infections.
Long covid: About 10% of symptomatic people report post-acute or long covid, i.e. symptoms that last for several weeks or months. This also affects younger and previously healthy people with a strong immune response. The post-viral syndrome is known from severe influenza, too.
Transmission: According to current knowledge, the main routes of transmission of the virus are indoor aerosols and droplets produced when speaking or coughing, while outdoor aerosols as well as most object surfaces appear to play a minor role.
Children and schools: In contrast to influenza, the risk of disease and transmission in children is very low in the case of covid. There was and is therefore no medical reason for the closure of elementary schools or other measures specifically aimed at children.
Contact tracing: A WHO study of 2019 on measures against influenza pandemics concluded that from a medical perspective, contact tracing is “not recommended in any circumstances”. Contact tracing apps on cell phones have also failed in most countries.
Sweden: In Sweden, total mortality without lockdown has so far been in the range of a strong influenza season. 70% of Swedish deaths occurred in nursing homes that were not protected quickly enough. The median age of the Swedish covid deaths is 84 years.
Virus origin: The origin of the new corona virus remains unclear, but the best evidence currently points to a covid-like pneumonia incident in a Chinese mine in 2012, whose virus samples were collected, stored and researched by the Virology Institute in Wuhan (WIV).
Surveillance: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the covid pandemic may be used to permanently expand global surveillance. In several parts of the world, the population is being monitored by drones and facing serious police overreach during lockdowns.