Dear Rhiannon

I popped down to my local when it opened and had a glance inside, but it was a mask-free zone, so I didn’t go in. It’s such a simple thing, putting on a mask. It says: “I care about your welfare, as well as my own, and do not want to infect you.”

That could be because browsing and sluicing are things done with the mouth, requiring the absence of a barrier in front of it.

Other countries haven’t needed to legislate, perhaps because they had higher levels of trust in their governments.

In both Portugal and Spain they are compulsory, by law.

Will the fact masks are now obligatory in shops in England finally – please God – mark the end of the mask culture wars? Will this spark a political and public commitment to sane and effective public health policies? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, it’s a relief that the government has finally listened to what the World Health Organization has been saying in increasingly desperate tones since early spring.

And now you’re really missing the point. The earlier advice against masks was issued because the NHS is so inefficient that Ministers were convinced if we did then medical staff couldn’t – not enough masks around, d’ye see?

79 thoughts on “Dear Rhiannon”

  1. Legalising gun ownership has clearly stopped the gun culture wars in the USA hasn’t it.

  2. Another shop trip this morning. Lone refusenik among a smallish crew of cowards. Including some 15 yr old–so much for rebellious youth.

    Their reward is at hand. The DM talking about Blojob’s fears of 2nd wave in 2 wks. If he returns LD it will finish UK econ. More likely it will be mask/gloves 24/7 outside yr door. Their fucking Gov Winter report mentions trying to make people wear them 24/7 INDOORS as well. But likely unenforceable. The 2nd wave shite is probable recognition that even UK special brew mugs will need more frit laid on them to get 24/7 accepted.

  3. On the one hand, it’s a relief that the government has finally listened to what the World Health Organization has been saying in increasingly desperate tones since early spring.

    Wrong. The World Health Organization led the way in advising against public mask use. They didn’t change their tune until June.

  4. Rhiannon is a imbecile. The WHO has not been saying since early spring that we should wear masks. The cretins at the WHO changed their advice in early June to suggesting that people should wear masks. June is not early spring. Note that the evidence for masks is pretty thin but even a marginal effect is worth something.

    old advice
    https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/331693

    changed on June 6th. And even then hedged around with a lot of guff.

  5. I saw an article about a female reality TV Mensa member complaining their £75 designer leather face mask didn’t fit their face in a flattering manner. Leather FFS?

    Or is it a Hannibal Lecter thing?

  6. Sorry and all that, but the virus is still the same size it was in April and the masks stop the same size particles they did in April.

    Lying two faced c*nts, all of them, always.

  7. BraveFart,
    Lecter wore a plastic mask, hockey, I think. Leather is more the BDSM crowd. Perhaps she should do us all a favour and wear a designer ball gag.

  8. @BF

    I’ve been wondering actually, at material might work best for a non-medical grade face covering. My concern about fabric is that it gets moist so if a droplet from someone else lands on it, there seems a chance of it penetrating through and reaching my mouth. Maybe a bigger chance than if I hadn’t worn the covering at all (if it landed somewhere else on my face I might just have wiped it off, if it lands on the mask and the mask moves around over my face, bigger chance of some material getting smeared over my mouth area) so that plus the contamination risk from accidentally touching a sloppy germy mask (either putting on or off or adjusting it or just picking it up to put it in the wash) makes me concerned its use is potentially counterproductive. At least to me, it may well reduce the range at which I spread droplets and potentially reduce risk to other people even if I’m well aware it won’t block them completely.

    I wonder if Miss Leather was thinking along similar lines and reckoned leather would block moisture getting in. Or the reverse, whether she was more altruistically reckoning it would stop droplets getting out (if the fit was snug anyway).

  9. The infuriating thing about this is that cases don’t matter. It’s hospitalisations and deaths that matter. So far, in Spain, France and Germany, the uptick in cases has not been followed by the increase in deaths we would expect from patterns earlier in the year.

    If this trend is confirmed in the coming week or two then it means the virus isn’t as dangerous at the moment (summer?) and we should be encouraging infections so as to build some immunity. If the virus returns to being dangerous in the winter, the mask wearing and social distancing we’re doing now will have guaranteed a second lockdown.

  10. Here in Hong Kong, where everyone has been wearing masks for months, the new infection rate is higher than in the UK. So they have made masks compulsory everywhere outside the home and it is being enforced by the police. Nothing like doubling down on a failing solution!!

    Re: the reporting of WHO advice. Standard, isn’t it? We have always been at war with Eurasia.

    Is there some sort of Parliamentary precedent for disposing of a PM who has completely lost his bottle? Boris is wetter than AC Grayling’s mattress…

  11. @PJF

    “If this trend is confirmed in the coming week or two then it means the virus isn’t as dangerous at the moment”

    Don’t know if that follows. An alternative explanation might just be that we are getting much better at testing the right people in big numbers. You’re right that all the scary graphs of second-wave case numbers look oddly disproportionate to the case numbers at a time when we had far more deaths, but I reckon there were a lot of infections back then that never made it into the case statistics.

  12. In many countries it was said that the public didn’t need masks. In Switzerland, where the army bought up 50 million masks, I’m guessing that masks will be mandatory until they’ve sold off all their stock…

  13. Am embarrassed to say I’ve just been to the shops for supplies and only realised on returning home that I hadn’t worn a mask. No one challenged me or seemed fussed about it – not sure I noticed if anyone else was wearing one?. My embarrassment stems from the personal lack of awareness. Forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on.

  14. MyBurningEars

    My point was that solid leather may be effective for asphyxiation sex play and blocking viruses in and out, but how does one breathe through it normally unless it has ventilation holes in which case it’s not performing its preventative function

  15. “the gun culture wars in the USA”

    ???

    ‘mask-denial’

    “Climate denial’s” first cousin. Your betters have told you what is. So STFU.

    Like climate “science,” mask science is full of contradictions and authoritative bloviating . . . now with the force of law.

    The details aren’t important. Obedience to central authority is all that matters. You exist for the state.

  16. @MBE
    What evidence there is – which isn’t much – is that the non medical masks are to prevent infected people spreading the virus to others, not to protect the mask wearer. The point is that the mask might lower the amount of the virus that is spread by the mask wearer.

    And you’re right about testing and numbers – back in the first wave, we only tested people who were ill and in hospital and so the deaths vs. cases numbers were high. In reality more than 80% of cases were not detected. Now with more extensive testing, we catch an increasing proportion of the non symptomatic. Which is what the Germans were doing with their greater testing capacity.

    The issue is that if we don’t bop the spread early on, it eventually goes exponential and things get messy – which is what happened in Wuhan and Lombardy.

  17. An alternative explanation might just be that we are getting much better at testing the right people in big numbers.

    If the increase in recorded cases is just a result of increased testing then it doubles my main point – the virus isn’t dangerous at the moment.

  18. They is NO second wave. There never was a fucking first. Take out the lies and it is a winter flu less dangerous than 2008 and vastly less than 1968 HK.

  19. @Ecksy

    You can argue that the virus has been overreacted to and you can argue that other epidemics have caused more deaths in the past, but if you’re saying there wasn’t a first wave then that’s just bonkers, sorry. It makes it harder for people to take you seriously if you come out with stuff like that.

    For there not to have been a first wave you either have to think nobody was getting ill at all because the virus doesn’t exist, or that exactly the same number of people were dying of Covid as always are dying of Covid hence no wave/epidemic, it’s a year-round endemic disease we’ve been living with for years.

    Neither of those things seem to be what you believe so just accept there was a first wave – it doesn’t even weaken your main argument one teeny weeny bit to acknowledge it! And it makes you sound far less barmy to the average Joe who you might want to persuade.

  20. @Ken

    “What evidence there is – which isn’t much – is that the non medical masks are to prevent infected people spreading the virus to others, not to protect the mask wearer. The point is that the mask might lower the amount of the virus that is spread by the mask wearer.”

    Yes indeed, what I was referring to was something else – the hypothetical risk (identified in some of the mask-sceptical “scientific” papers – sadly, like the pro-mask ones, almost evidence-free zones so more scientific conjecture than anything else – I’m sure you’ve read them too so will know the ones I mean) of the masks being counterproductive to wearers. Like I said I can see an argument that covering my mouth limits my range and quantity of droplets I threaten others with. But at least some scientists were concerned that having a wet sloppy germ-collector rubbing up and down against your face might, potentially, increase the risk of transmission to the wearer. Aside from the other issues like muffled speech making people stand closer to each other etc.

    @BF

    I don’t think it would need airholes, possible to breathe through the gaps where it doesn’t fit exactly to the face? Which would still reduce the forward projection of droplets. I can certainly see a theoretical attraction to having a waterproof and unholed layer in front of the mouth, which is my guess as to what she was going for.

  21. @PJF

    “If the increase in recorded cases is just a result of increased testing then it doubles my main point – the virus isn’t dangerous at the moment.”

    Depends what your main point was. If it was that “summer cases seem less dangerous, in the sense we seem able to have more cases in summer without them turning into severe disease/hospitalisation/death, so now isn’t a bad time to get infected” then that point would be negated rather than doubled should it transpire any change in the ratio of cases to hospitalisations/deaths is purely an artefact of changes to testing procedures.

    If your point is more like “those graphs of cases showing a huge second wave are out of proportion, and the second wave is less scary than the first” then yes I agree, but with the caveat then Ken added, which is that we could really do with putting a halt to the exponential growth. The case graphs are more useful for seeing whether things are going up or down rather than whether the current situation is better/worse than the first wave.

  22. It makes sense to encourage spread of an attenuated version of C-19, if indeed this is happening in summer. So it’s a good thing that masks don’t work.

  23. Cases: useful to measure growing herd immunity, but unreliable, see sensitivity – specificity / Bayes theorem.
    Cases with symptoms: useful backward looking measure, ratio symptomatc or not.
    Hospitalisations; the best measure but skewed by availability / take up of hospital beds.
    Deaths: the old with / of debate.

    In short, no measure is perfect, or even reliable.

  24. @philip

    “It makes sense to encourage spread of an attenuated version of C-19, if indeed this is happening in summe”

    What’s the evidence for this attenuation though? The fact lots of viruses (flu, colds) peak in winter and dip in summer is to do with changes in transmission not severity. And the geneticists don’t seem to be saying the current variants of the virus doing the rounds in Europe are significantly different and less dangerous. Judging it based on proportion of cases requiring hospital is misleading as case stats depend so much on testing regime.

  25. MBE-People caught the fucking thing–in similar numbers and with a similar low death rate as with winter flu which family of illnesses it belongs to.

    In that sense it exists.

    But the very words “First Wave” are pure deceit–no fucker talks about “first wave” flu. The phrase was put together to suggest a “second wave”. And you are the prey of deceivers if you continue to use it. The NHS has already released its latest figs on how any UK people have died ONLY from the “deadly pandemic” virus. 1318. Less than one days UK death figs overall.

    And what is this bollocks about “not dangerous at the moment”–either it is a killer or it isn’t. Or perhaps it got a good hiding and is working to regain its strength while hiding in an old mine like Clint Eastwood in “A Fistful of Dollars”. If it needs reduced Vitamin D in winter to work it isn’t any deadly pandemic.

  26. I’ve said this before. It’s absolutely pointless having discussions about the effectiveness or non-effectiveness of precautions to C19. This about managing the fear inspired by the media. Governments have to do things because the media will flay them if the don’t. Then they flay them for the results, the things they’ve been forced to do, cause. The same with your interactions with the people about you. You’ll be wearing masks when you’re treated as a pariah for not doing so.
    What you have is a case of media inspired mass hysteria for the sole purpose of selling media. With a lot of vested interests getting in on the act.

  27. Is it any surprise the BBC has got in on the act? With falling ratings, it’s been staring its demise in the face. Now it’s playing the “National broadcaster bringing unbiased facts” card. The more it hypes up the situation the more it thinks audiences will go to it for more of the same.

  28. The regulations state that the mouth and nose need to be covered. The guidance gives hints that a cloth mask can be used. It doesn’t state in law how the mouth and nose have to be covered. Covering your face with a Guido V for Vendetta mask means the mouth and nose are covered, especially if it’s ill fitting and the mouth hole doesn’t line up with your mouth.

    I’ve seen videos of people in reversed hoodies with holes cut for the eyes (and a Sharpie mouth) and another wearing a full GP-5 Russian gas mask go into supermarkets. The GP-5 wearing bloke was even complimented on wearing a mask when he visited a petrol station, but who then told the bloke off for not turning off his mobile phone whilst on the forecourt.

  29. Dennis, Tiresome Denizen of Central Ohio

    It’s a brave new world, this 2020 planet, and wearing a mask (sorry, “muzzle”) is really the least you can do for your fellow human beings. I’m a latent hippy and so would say that, of course – my mask is from Etsy and made from paisley fabric. But that doesn’t mean that the whole thing isn’t stressful, and sad, and above all deeply, deeply weird. Perhaps that’s why photographs of Ben Affleck smoking a cigarette under his own mask resonated with me so much. It’s a mood.

    This is, literally, gibberish.

  30. Dennis, A Vast Reservior of Toxic Masculinity

    After getting an eyeful of Rhiannon, I’d suggest she wear a mask at all times. In fact, although unproven as to efficacy, I think she’d do well to wear a paper bag over her head when in public. You never can be too careful, you know.

  31. Bored of sharing a country with gullible innumerate cowards.

    If the world want to bring on 1984 carry on and keep bed wetting.

    I’ll be sipping whisky in the garden looking disinterested.

  32. @Dennis
    The only time I’ve seen a face like Rhiannon’s was on an advert for sex dolls for the Japanese market. Although the eyes looked more realistic. I think they usually come in a plastic bag, not paper.

  33. There is evidence that people with low vitamin D levels suffer far more severe symptoms than those with high vitamin D levels.
    No word as to whether vitamin D reduces the chance of being infected, just that it reduces the consequences if you are.
    Vitamin D is generated by exposure to the sun.
    When this thing started it was cold, damp and dark, so people tended to stay indoors, where transmission is easier and no vitamin D is produced. Hence the peak in late March.
    Now it is high summer. More and stronger daylight and more people outdoors, this reducing both the number and severity of infections.
    To avoid a second wave get everyone fit and under fifty to participate in a giant beach party. The older and less fit can join in if they don’t mind the risk. The result would be lots of cases only detectable by test, few hospitalisations, and scarcely any deaths. But after a month the population as a whole would be at herd immunity and the disease would swiftly die out.
    Everyone would be well advised to sunbathe as much as possible, especially in winter when sun is scarce. Of course in winter it would be sensible to do some sort of exercise whilst sunbathing, in order to keep warm.
    The provision to go outside and exercise daily seems to me one of the more effective pieces of government advice.

  34. This forced wearing of masks has allowed me to go back 60 odd years to my childhood days. When I go out, I wear a folded bandana over my nose and mouth and, unable to locally buy a cowboy hat, wear a reshaped Panama hat, and wander the streets looking for a stagecoach to hold up with my (invisible) Colt 45.
    In practical terms, the bandana, being folded, is an extra barrier while allowing me to breathe normally.
    If I get fed up being the Durango Kid, I can wear dark glasses, pull the hat further down over my face and can be a ghostly villain from the Marvel universe.
    Being in your late 70’s doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have fun in a pandemic.

  35. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    The only time I’ve seen a face like Rhiannon’s was on an advert for sex dolls for the Japanese market. Although the eyes looked more realistic. I think they usually come in a plastic bag, not paper.

    There’s a demand for sex dolls of unattractive women? The ways of the Japanese are indeed mysterious.

    Anyway, Rhiannon has a chastity belt… Her face.

  36. @ MC
    it is being enforced by the police
    To the extent that our ever-so-caring-and-friendly police (in a gang of five) pepper sprayed a woman who got stoppy not wearing a mask in a supermarket today.

    And of course that remarkably stupid ban on groups of more than 2 un-related people (which aforementioned gang of cops obviously ignored). How in heaven’s name is that supposed to work?

  37. Stunningly stupid woman. She says, “…putting on a mask…. says….I care about your welfare.. and do not want to infect you.” Oh, bully for you, you patronising, smug, sick-making Grauniad “journalist” you!
    Tell me this, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett, if a fucking mask is so effective, why worry about others who choose not to wear them?”. You’re perfectly safe wearing your (no doubt “designer”/very expensive) mask luv! Never mind the ignorant and uncaring plebs! They’re all going to die from this totally dangerous killer bug anyway!
    Surely, if these ridiculous things were any use, you wouldn’t have a care in the world in a pub full of maskless ones?

  38. On the one hand, it’s a relief that the government has finally listened to what the World Health Organization has been saying in increasingly desperate tones since early spring.

    What the absolute actual fuck? A brazen, breathtaking lie. They finally, grudgingly changed their tune last month, and the only desperation was them clinging on to their claim that they don’t work.

    A real “Oceania is at war with Eastasia” moment reading that quote. Such contempt for her readers.

  39. Note that the Guardian changed its runs regarding masks around the time a few on the right started to refuse to wear them on principle. This was not a coincidence. They are driven by opposition.

  40. “…putting on a mask…. says….I care about your welfare.. and do not want to infect you.”

    If you’re infectious, lboddy well stay at home!

  41. “the only desperation was them clinging on to their claim that they don’t work.”

    They don’t “work”, if by “work” one means “slow or stop (LOL) the spread of an extremely infectious virus”, mostly because people are people. It’s not even working in those Asian countries the Death Cloud Cult lauds for their gleeful mask usage. Even trained medical staff use them improperly all the time (was it the UK or Canada that they’re tracing most transmission to hospitals and dr offices?).

    Wear one if you want, don’t if you don’t want to. Not surprising how many westerners find that liberty-friendly framing unacceptable, given how we’re all socialists now and whatnot.

  42. The thing that I find interesting is that there was a ten day delay between the government announcing that masks would be compulsory in shops and the rule being implemented. Presumably there were technical legal reasons for that but that isn’t my point. Day nine, hardly anyone has a mask on and nobody cares. Day ten, masks are now mandatory and now anyone not wearing one has to be evil beyond belief.

  43. @JW

    “Tell me this, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett, if a fucking mask is so effective, why worry about others who choose not to wear them?… Surely, if these ridiculous things were any use, you wouldn’t have a care in the world in a pub full of maskless ones?”

    Because as Ken says, to the extent that face coverings ‘work’ – though the evidence in their favour is thin gruel – it’s by preventing the wearer from spreading virus to others, by reducing the range/quantity of droplets when they breathe/talk/sneeze etc. The theory is basically this: https://twitter.com/richdavisphd/status/1276629360212979712 but that shows their effectiveness preventing bacteria rather than viruses. Few people are claiming it protects the wearer too – one exception is Nassim Nicholas Taleb who makes a big deal about this “compound” effectiveness of face coverings, but not sure where he’s got his underpinning data from.

    @jgh

    “If you’re infectious, lboddy well stay at home!”

    One of the potential drawbacks of widespread use of face coverings is the risk someone who ought to be self-isolating might reckon they can nip down the shop provided they have their mask on…

    On the other hand asymptomatic transmission does seem to be a big deal with Covid so not everyone who is infectious will realise this. We can’t stop the spread of the disease with a system where the infectious people stay at home and the uninfectious behave exactly like normal.

    Every time you go out, you have to treat yourself as potentially infectious and take appropriate steps to prevent yourself from spreading your potential infection to others. The issue here is whether donning a face covering is one such appropriate step, and whether there are grounds for the government to compel it.

  44. OK, anecdata, and a different virus, but…I recently spent 12 days in a holiday cottage with three other adults (my wife, daughter and her husband) and a toddler. Shortly after arrival, the others started to go down with a nasty cold, involving streams of snot and much coughing and sneezing. I did not wear a mask, but I did wash my hands after touching anything and I strictly avoided touching my own face. Despite sharing a bed with my infected wife, and being in close contact with the others, I did not catch the cold. Coincidence? Perhaps. But it confirmed my opinion that handwashing is the most effective protective measure.

  45. Bloke in Lower Hutt

    Can someone please explain to this simpleton how masks can protect other people from you but not protect you from others? Are these masks made of some magic material that lets droplets in whilst preventing droplets of the same size escaping? Surely wearing a mask that behaves like this inside out will indeed protect you from others (although admittedly simultaneously putting many, many lives at risk).

    The biggest benefit of wearing a mask seems to be that it reduces the ability to inhale the stench of bullshit that appears to dripping off every piece of Government policy announced in the UK at the moment. At least living in NZ, our Govt has stopped announcing new policies and appears happy to lock us in prison island with no parole forever … or at least until after the election.

  46. @Roué le Jour
    Ball gag? Nah, hammer a butt-plug into her mouth to stop the shit getting out

    @MBE
    Don’t know size of C-19 virus, but a small virus can be similar size to a CO2 molecule. Thus you need a fabric which blocks CO2. You won’t die from C-19 then…

    @PJF, MC
    +1
    Meanwhile Sweden still doing better than UK

  47. Whut? WHO was against them until Gov’ts pressured them to change:

    BBC’s WHO leak
    Policy based evidence making inflicted on public again
    – Deborah Cohen BBC Newsnight
    “WHO changed their Face Mask advise due to Gov’ts/political pressure” – Seen To Be Doing Something
    https://youtu.be/Bw51IudGNb8?t=262

    Gloves next?
    – “People in England must wear masks in shops and banks, but a Lords debate raises the question of whether gloves are useful against Covid-19, 24 July 2020 7:00pm

    – Ministers are considering requiring the public to wear gloves to combat coronavirus, as well as face coverings

    – The World Health Organisation does not back their use, saying regularly washing bare hands offers more protection against catching coronavirus…”
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/24/gloves-may-next-step-masks-battle-against-covid-19-infection/

    Masks: Venues like restaurants, pubs, gyms, hairdressers, beauty salons, leisure centres, cinemas, concert halls and theatres are exempt from the new rules

    Hmm, the places you spend a long time in exempt, but a ‘buy a Mars bar’ shop not – Gov’t ‘seen to be doing something’ useless

    Dear Rhiannon

    If you want to wear a mask to protect or comfort’ you, go ahead. Don’t demand I and others do same

    P

  48. @Pcar / BiLH

    The rationale isn’t all about blocking the virus getting out. Or indeed, getting in. It’s in principle about reducing the number virus-containing droplets of water getting projected out, and reducing the airflow and therefore how far you can project whichever droplets escape. It’s gravity that does the rest of the work. If the droplets are slowed down they can’t go very far.

    The virus is indeed too small to be blocked by a typical piece of fabric. Pcar has got the sizes m wrong by several orders of magnitude (just stop and think for a moment – how can even the RNA or DNA be the size of a CO2 molecule, before you even account for the capsid?), coronavirus is of the order of magnitude 100 nanometers, the smallest viruses around 20 nanometers and a molecule of CO2 around 0.2 or 0.3 nanometers depending how you measure it. But while that virus is still pretty small, it helps that it’s not going to come out of your mouth loose, but rather will be in a drop of water which is rather bigger. The face covering may absorb that drop, or it may get through but leave at lower speed so it won’t travel as far before gravity brings it down.

    Where things get dodgy is if the virus is instead carried in an aerosol rather than in water droplets large enough for gravity to do its work… This affects the logic of the one/two metre rules and the risks of indoors vs outdoors. Though it seems face coverings can reduce aerosolisation.

    https://twitter.com/richdavisphd/status/1276629360212979712 and https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-27/which-face-mask-works-best-filmed-people-sneezing-coughing/12494174 are worth having a look at, and particularly the embedded video https://youtube.com/watch?v=UNCNM7AZPFg

    Now I’m not saying that video is definitive proof that cloth masks should be compulsory, but it does illustrate what the idea behind the face coverings is. Not as effective at stopping droplets as the surgical mask, but it reduces what comes out and any big droplet clearly doesn’t travel as far as droplets from an uncovered mouth.

  49. You’re certainly right about the virus size, MBE. Obvious if you think of it. CO² is 3 atoms. Just the genetic material of a virus is going to run to thousands.
    But I’m dubious about gravity’s effect on droplets. I’ve done too much spraying. Even low pressure water based, it’s air currents moving the spray about more than anything else. It drops out of the air, eventually, but if you’re spraying in a garage you can still see colour in the air for a long time after you’ve ceased. And colour showing on surfaces from the floor to the ceiling.

  50. @bis

    Wonder with paint spraying whether there are any electrostatic effects?

    In terms of droplets of water from your mouth, the size has a big effect. Larger droplets definitely fall out, very small droplets can hang around in the air currents like you say. Which is why a lot of the dispute has been about whether we need to worry more about big droplets (potentially laden with more virus particles) or the fine stuff that gets suspended in the air for longer.

    I’m not, personally, sold on the benefits of masks and particularly homemade coverings. The evidence is very thin, but like Ken says this may be one of those “something is better than nothing” affairs (or like you say, one of those things where people or indeed governments can be visibly seen to be doing something and that has a certain value to them, separate from the practical worth of the measure itself). But I thought it worth outlining what the case in favour of masks is, because it isn’t totally daft and some of the criticisms aimed at it here have been missing the mark. If folk are going to criticise masks, and to be sure there are grounds to do so, please don’t do it from the perspective that a virus particle is the size of a CO2 molecule…. that kind of argument tends to unnecessarily undermine the case.

  51. Ann Widdecombe proposes shopping hour for customers who don’t to wear masks
    – Widdecombe: “I find them too uncomfortable to wear, even to buy a pint of milk”
    – Following her comments, Widdecombe says she ha is received criticism online: “They would like me to die of coronavirus”
    Rules, devised by medical experts with a socialist bias. What could go wrong?
    Let the mask fans out once a week . It’s a bloody joke. The worlds gone mad

    @MBE
    Threw that size bit in to see if anyone thinking, I did figures earlier and yes Guardian numbers

    Well done for noticing, I’ve done similar on Arrse to bed-wettters and nobody noticed. When I pointed out ‘number test’ they still couldn’t see it

    As for mask efficacy: I go by WHO’s former stance and @Nessimmersion’s CDC, removed medical study etc info not hysterical ABC etc

    Sneezing/Coughing – most cover mouths and nose and have done so for centuries

    If you want to wear a mask to protect or comfort’ you, go ahead. Don’t demand I and others do same

  52. BlokeInTejasInNormandy

    For those interested, you could go watch This Week in Virology #640 (twiv #640)

    Long story short, a real virologist says that with some dirt cheap reagents and a pile of paper you could manufacture “virus Kleenex” (my term) – virus detectors when there’s a lot of virus to detect.

    Doesn’t detect at all whether you’re infected. Tests whether you’re infectious- the key thing for public health. Would cost about a dollar per Kleenex.

    Not seen any counter arguments.

  53. Whether they work or not, forcing people into wearing masks 8 MONTHS after the virus first appeared is insane. As mentioned above, TPTB have to be seen to be doing something.

  54. @Pcar

    “Sneezing/Coughing – most cover mouths and nose and have done so for centuries”

    Purely on anecdotal evidence, I’m not sure that “most” do! And it’s definitely not 99%+.

    Re the earlier consensus that was more disparaging of face coverings… There was definitely a fear then that telling people to wear masks would induce a PPE shortage for the healthcare sector as people unnecessarily bought up surgical-grade masks. I got the impression then that the official tune was likely to change once the worst of the PPE shortage was over and officials became more keen on any tool that might reduce transmission.

    The case against masks wasn’t exactly loaded with high-quality scientific evidence either. A lot of it, like “people might not social distance” or “people may get infected by improperly handling their mask”, was pretty speculative albeit plausible. I can’t see masks being the silver bullet their strongest proponents are making them out to be so it’s interesting that so much of the debate has come up be dominated by them – like Theo said we may be better discussing how we can get people to wash hands more often, which is a strongly evidenced prevention measure. We often seem to end up with relatively marginal issues hogging the political and public bandwidth. During the initial epidemic there would have been far fewer deaths if civil servants/the media had put, say, 40% of their attention on infection control at care homes (who gets discharged to them, whether we needed dedicated step-down facilities, what to do about staff who work hours at several different homes etc) which – given the vulnerability of the residents but also our unusually good chance of isolating this risk group from the virus if the maximum set of measures were taken -might have swayed the death toll considerably.

  55. @ Bloke in Lower Hutt
    The virus can enter the body through mouth, nose *or eyes*. The masks we are told to wear doesn’t cover the eyes.
    So Tesco has equipped its cashiers with visors that protect their eyes as well as mouth and nose from the breath that customers exhale.

  56. . . . wash hands more often, which is a strongly evidenced prevention measure.

    It’s strongly evidenced for some infectious diseases but it would be interesting to see some evidence for COVID-19.

    Some viruses, H1N1 for example, don’t get much prevention benefit from hand washing because they are primarily transmitted via the air. From what I’ve read, COVID-19 is primarily transmitted via the air.

  57. I thought I’m put a comment on this thread but it appears to have disappeared, is it just me or are comments randomly disappearing on this site these days?

    Regardless, I’ll make my point again, which is that the way people use masks in the real world means that any infectious person will be transferring infection from their mask to their hands and thus to anything they touch. Every mask user fiddles with their mask constantly, which is the one thing we were told at the beginning to avoid – don’t touch your face or mouth, and if you do, wash your hands immediately afterwards.

    So by making people wear masks you are actively encouraging the infectious to contaminate their hands and thus everyone else via communal surfaces.

    Thus the two arguments used to promote masks (protect yourself and protect others) are utterly refuted – the masks do not protect the individual from airborne droplets, and the way masks are used by 99.9 of the public means mask users are actively contaminating everything they touch. Any rational scientific analysis would show that, unfortunately we just no longer have any rational scientists, just politicised activists masquerading as scientists.

  58. @ Jim
    Not every mask user – some of us have sufficient self-control to avoid handling the mask between putting the clean mask on (and adjusting it before it has a chance to get infected) and taking it off. It sometimes requires a significant effort when it gets horribly stuffy inside it but it’s possible.

  59. @PJF/Jim

    The issue of the importance of air vs surface spread is an interesting one. I think John77’s point is largely negated by the fact so many mask wearers clearly do handle them inappropriately – I’m sure there’s been proper scientific research on this but the vast majority of people I’ve seen with masks on have indeed been touching them. This is one of the reasons I’m sceptical of masks as a silver bullet.

    However, I think scientific consensus at present is that airborne is more important than contact transmission for Covid which is why there is a not-completely-crazy case for masks, and the case against them isn’t as conclusive as Jim claims. But that doesn’t mean hand-washing is useless… Certainly hand-washing with soap can destroy coronaviruses and we know for SARS, a pretty closely related virus, there were quite a few infections from touching contaminated surfaces (including elevator buttons, famously) but we don’t know what percentage of the total they contributed. For influenza, my understanding is that there’s quite strong evidence hand-washing works at an individual level to reduce probability of infection (though not to zero, or anything like it) but less convincing evidence that handwashing public health campaigns work at a societal level (not everyone is going to comply).

  60. Are all the mask-wearers going to stop driving or, for that matter, doing anything else that might conceivably put anyone at any kind of risk?

    This isn’t even interesting anymore, except from a sociological or historical PoV.

  61. Boris Johnson has urged Britons not to “delude” themselves

    The irony. What a useless, useless fuckwit.

  62. Interesting gov data*:
    https://coronavirus-staging.data.gov.uk/cases
    which allows you to download a spreadsheet showing the number of cases week by week for every ‘parish’ (actually MSOA = Middle Super Output Area) in England. My local area (my village plus two adjacent/neighbouring ones) has had 3 (three!) confirmed cases during one week in April (presumably a single household) and nothing at any other time. Several other local MSOAs have had zero confirmed cases, ever.

    * the web site is in beta, so address will probably change

  63. Walking down the aisles in Walmart, I don’t spread stuff out my mouth. Puting a mask over my mouth and nose changes nothing.

    Should I sneeze or cough, that stupid little mask will do nothing: I’m blowing shi+ all over the place.

    The masks provide zero medical value in public places.

  64. @MBE
    Sneezing/Coughing – as you quoted, I said ‘most’, not the 99%+ you demand. What happens when you Sneeze/Cough a large glob of mucous into mask?

    You go on to rubbish anti-mask for use of “may, can, could, might” – which are the words pro-mask use. You also ignore the removal of “2016 Mask don’t work” study from web

    PPE shortage? There never was one, NHS/PHE refused to use new suppliers and FFP0/1/2 rejected by NHS and plenty for public

    Masks are a placebo, dummy-tit, comforter for bed-wetters like you – wear if you want, don’t demand others do. Better to catch then live a normal life than be a child until you inevitably die

    Why are you so scared of C-19?

    @Jim, Mr Lud, Gamecock
    Spot on

  65. Matt Hancock: We are going to ‘bottle the best bits’ of NHS coronavirus response

    Ha, Ha. A 1 ml vial would contain it all. Hancock – so smug while being so unimpressive – hasn’t got any bottle to bottle. Telling people what they can and can’t do. They think we are thick

    Hospitals are empty, while the NHS has received millions in donations and billions in extra funding People are being left to rot.
    We are being played . Just looking through the comment’s there is not much doubt this is a scam

    Spike in cases? We didn’t test Feb – May. Seek and ye will find

    “As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK.” As published on the National Health Service website

    Excess Deaths: 21,000 not from C-19 – “Save NHS, Kill the Sick”

    ‘Authoritarianism meets ignorance’ over mandatory face mask policy
    “How does that negate study after study, expert after expert for months telling us that in fact most of these face masks do not work, people touch them, they don’t use them correctly, they take them off the wrong way, they get infected,” he said.
    There is a “really nasty streak of Trump derangement syndrome running through this entire pandemic” where anything that Trump supports, the media immediately denounces”

    New Gov’t policy: you must put a pencil in your bottom, may help prevent farting C-19 – @MBE “OK”

    Government…”let’s ban Burkas”….backlash. 2 years later Government..”let’s make Burkas mandatory” … sheep comply

  66. @Lud

    “Are all the mask-wearers going to stop driving or, for that matter, doing anything else that might conceivably put anyone at any kind of risk?”

    This is an excellent point, the traditional liberal mantra about “do what you like so long as you’re not interfering with/harming other people” has always been oversimplistic when it comes to harms caused to others via smallish risks, many of which we do accept. Driving a car puts other people at risk of harm, and cumulatively the fact many of us choose to drive cars certainly does cause harm. Yet we accept there is freedom to drive. Why should that be accepted, but freedom not to wear a mask isn’t? The problem with this particular example is the benefits of being able to drive a car are pretty clear, in terms of economic value of being able to get to work but also other aspects – being able to see friends and family, travel to interesting places, pursue hobbies, get the shopping done, even the pleasure of driving itself has a utility value. Many people don’t have a good alternative to driving. Whereas with masks, not-wearing versus wearing has relatively few clear-cut benefits (comfort, not looking daft, a sense of freedom) but the main benefits/costs – whether it protects or potentially others or oneself – are a bit of a mystery at the moment.

    @GC

    “Walking down the aisles in Walmart, I don’t spread stuff out my mouth. Puting a mask over my mouth and nose changes nothing. Should I sneeze or cough, that stupid little mask will do nothing: I’m blowing shi+ all over the place.”

    Unless you walk around Walmart holding your breath, then you’re either expelling stuff out of your mouth or out of your nose. One or the other. And even home-made face coverings that are not of medical grade don’t “do nothing” when you sneeze or cough – you can see this quite clearly in the slow-motion videos or bacteria culture experiments I linked upthread. Neither of which are proof that everyone wearing masks will have a substantial effect on viral transmission… but if, in fact, mask-wearing has no beneficial effect then that won’t be because a person just breathing/talking normally without a mask isn’t putting out droplets into the air (they are) and it isn’t because when a person sneezes into a mask it all goes straight through (it doesn’t, and the range of the larger droplets is reduced).

  67. @Pcar

    Oh can the “bedwetter” stuff. Martin got an ear-full of that when he was genuinely personally scared about himself or his family contracting COVID, and in his (unfortunate) case this was totally legitimate. It’s a potentially fatal disease, and the probability of death while – as you correctly point out – low overall, is many times higher for some folk than others. If it’s low for you, then lucky old – or young – you. For what it’s worth, I’m more thinking of it as a public policy problem. Like it or not, finding a way for society to get back to somewhat normal functioning while keeping a lid on Covid is a serious, and tough, policy problem. If we go back to doing what we were doing in February, we’re likely to see a similar pattern of exponential growth leading to clogged up hospitals and heavy-handed government intervention. Trying to stop a widespread epidemic being rather like trying to slow and turn round a moving oil tanker, I reckon even with the lessons learned from last time round and the better treatment available, the typical response if things are allowed to get too far loose is likely to be heavy-handed all over again.

    Now I could do without a second lockdown and accompanying economic shellshock personally, or at least my share portfolio would be rather happier. I’m not even too keen on a mini-lockdown or “smart lockdown” or whatever fancy intervention the world’s assorted illiberal and incompetent governments might have in store for us. So there certainly is a need for tools to keep Covid transmission down … for now, governments across the world seem to think face coverings are in the “every little helps” category. I’m unconvinced they’ll make a huge difference, but like Ken said, at this point even marginal effects might be worthwhile.

    I see you’ve accepted the point that if everybody wore face coverings then more coughs’n’sneezes would get “caught” versus if we relied on people reaching for a tissue/hankie, because while maybe a good proportion of people try to catch their ejection, it’s certainly nowhere near 99%. So, assuming catching the cough is beneficial, that’s a marginal benefit right there. (Though that’s a significant assumption in the face of limited evidence. And there’s a difference between there being a benefit, and that benefit being so strong as to demand compulsion at the point of criminal charges for the non-compliant. Purely voluntary compliance, however, seems to have been lower, and when the regulations came into force compliance seemed to improve, which no doubt was something governments had in mind.)

    Re why the advice about face coverings changed (without Rhiannon noticing, apparently) … would be nice to think it was to do with changing evidence about how Covid spreads. And I suspect there was a fair bit of that. But the cynic in me still reckons that boffins and policymakers had serious concerns about triggering PPE shortages if they told people to wear masks. Your claim that there never was any PPE shortage seems undercooked to me – certainly there were shortages at a local level and affecting some sectors more than others, and moreover advice about use of masks was altered in the face of potential pressure on PPE (if I recall correctly, care homes were told it would be acceptable not to change mask between seeing potentially infected patients). But my suspicion would still hold even if no PPE shortages had in fact materialised, because it really concerns fear of PPE shortages – and in the face of increased global demand for PPE, I reckon that policy-making circles did indeed have that fear. Did it sway their recommendation? Probably impossible to prove either way, unless somebody admits it (probably far in the future once they’re safely retired).

  68. MBE

    “Whereas with masks, not-wearing versus wearing has relatively few clear-cut benefits”

    That is such utter nonsense, in anything other than the most basic functional sense.

    “If we go back to doing what we were doing in February, we’re likely to see a similar pattern of exponential growth” …

    You don’t know that for a second, you are simply making it up. Lower HIT than originally thought, through variation (the theoretical formula for R0 assumes all spreaders are equal) and lower levels of potential susceptibility than originally projected (for example T-cell immunity, not included in any models), along with any calculation of cases to date (backtracking from deaths, but discounting for higher IFR scenarios such as care homes) – all might suggest that this has burned to some degree or other, particularly in more densely populated areas, where it spread more naturally early on.

    … resulting in “heavy-handed government intervention”

    Quite possibly, but simply to do with politics. “Do as you’re told or we’ll gratuitously shit on you”?

    “at this point even marginal effects might be worthwhile”

    I find this dismissive approach to our liberty and freedom almost unfathomable. The whole paragraph leading up to that statement is couched so very submissively.

    “And there’s a difference between there being a benefit, and that benefit being so strong as to demand compulsion at the point of criminal charges for the non-compliant.”

    Well, quite….

  69. “Like it or not, finding a way for society to get back to somewhat normal functioning while keeping a lid on Covid is a serious, and tough, policy problem.”

    And even if I take that at face value, normal functioning is not “the mandatory wearing of face nappies”. There is no normal in something that is so utterly dehumanising.

    If this is a tough policy problem, then Gov’t might start by not trying to scare everyone witless. See my link in the other thread, re an average of the population believing that nearly 7% of people had died in the UK to date. Try informing the public first rather than lying to them (directly or otherwise that otherwise allowed that perception to hold).

    Instead of that, we have Boris claiming that people are delusional if they are still not worried senseless. Too many people are successfully being played by these crooks.

  70. And for those people talking above about 2nd waves.

    As I understand it, the WHO says that the evidence so far does not support 2nd waves: Covid should be seen as one big wave, it says, followed by smaller ripples.

    Or, one might put it more logically as: The virus spreads in clusters. Lots of well connected clusters will burn through early and quickly. Less connected clusters will continue to burn on and off over time. Separate groups of clusters may take time to bridge.

    For example, there is no second wave in the US. It burned strongly (mostly) in the north east, and is now burning through the south. The US locked down too early in places, it didn’t achieve anything. As soon as lockdown is lifted, it’ll burn again to the extent that it didn’t before lockdown. As Australia is now clearly demonstrating.

    And Sweden has demonstrated excellently that an enforced lockdown (in addition to any voluntary change of behaviour) achieves very little. Tegnell says there is no case for mandatory masks at this sort of stage.

    An easy way to spot what is going on with “the first wave” is simply look at the death rates per million. If it’s high, it’s likely materially burned through. If low, you are still potentially exposed. We are high, Sweden is high, large parts of Europe are high, we are at an advanced stage of clusters having burned. notwithstanding that we’ll have regional variations and especially (by definition wrt clusters) lots of local variations.

    Some South American death rates are starting to catch up with ours. Watch those curves start to turn back down.

  71. “Policy problem.”

    On balance, I think government has done more harm than good. The policy problem may be that they have a policy.

  72. The issue is that if we don’t bop the spread early on, it eventually goes exponential and things get messy – which is what happened in Wuhan and Lombardy.

    And Sweden and Belarus. No, wait … as we didn’t see in places that took a more casual approach. Wuhan and Lombardy did lock down — to almost no effect.

    Meanwhile those places that were priding themselves on having mostly avoided it, like Florida, Vietnam and Singapore, are discovering that avoiding it is only a temporary thing.

  73. “discovering that avoiding it is only a temporary thing”

    That’s the way I see it. Another 30% of the Western population will be exposed. The sooner, the better.

  74. @MBE
    Again: PPE shortages were due to NHS refusal to use new suppliers and lack of forward planning. PPExchange showed this

    It’s a potentially fatal disease, and the probability of death while – as you correctly point out – low overall, is many times higher for some folk than others.

    Like Flu, common cold, tetanus, measles, TB, AIDS/HIV…..

    Bet wetter – yes you are.

    Low for me – no idea, but if it happens and I die, so be it. My 80 year old mum is more rational and less afraid than you. I will die some-day as will you

    @PF
    Sot on x3, well done

    @Chester, Gamecock
    +1 Avoiding by house arrest. Release and it’s back. NZ will be interesting

    Fear? SAGE calling for it to be ramped up again

    Coming soon with @MBE support: Mandatory Visors, Goggles, Gloves in addition to masks

    Look at her happiness when she talks about these stupid face masks
    There’s no evidence this “doctor” is even human, freaking robot

    Those who deny HCQ and Zinc will be on the wrong side of history. Unforgivable
    Hydroxychloroquine = 25$
    Drug pushed by the MSM and Birx/Fauci = 400$ per vial (3000$ per treatment course)

  75. Masks aren’t compulsory in England. Sure we have Hancock’s “law”, but that says wear a mask in these places, unless you don’t have to. There is no requirement to get some “worthy” to confirm you don’t have to. So you don’t have to.

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