March 26, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted a post against the use of masks for the general public: “If you do not have any respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, or runny nose, you do not need to wear a medical mask. When used alone, masks can give you a false feeling of protection and can even be a source of infection when not used correctly.”1
About one year later, Twitter is now censoring tweets that call facemasks for COVID-19 into question, citing a violation of Twitter rules.2 In the span of less than one year, how did we go from public health officials advising against masks to them now being considered infallible and not up for debate?
“Given that masking of healthy populations for long periods of time is a new policy, it is astounding that the media and scientific journals decided within a matter of months that the efficacy of the practice could not be questioned or studied, nor its adverse effects discussed,” Jeffrey Tucker, editorial director for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) noted.3
The latest to be silenced was Prashant Bhushan, an advocate-on-record for the Supreme Court of India, a respected human rights attorney with 2.1 million Twitter followers.
Prior to its censoring, his tweet recommended reading a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses,4 which demonstrates that masks not only are ineffective for blocking the transmission of infectious disease but also that they can cause substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects.5
It’s alarming to say, but as noted by The COVID Blog, “Twenty-something Twitter employees with Starbucks lattes are now the authorities in law and science versus respected, long-time attorneys who have fought corruption their entire lives.”6
What Does the Censored Mask Study Say?
The study, written by Baruch Vainshelboim with Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System/Stanford University, summarizes scientific evidence on wearing facemasks in the COVID-19 era. Four hypotheses are given, with ample scientific support to back them up:7
- The practice of wearing facemasks has compromised safety and efficacy profile
- Both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to reduce human-to-human transmission and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
- Wearing facemasks has adverse physiological and psychological effects
- Long-term consequences of wearing facemasks on health are detrimental
“Interestingly, 99% of the detected cases with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic or have mild condition, which contradicts with the virus name (severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2),” Vainshelboim notes, pointing out that the initial infection fatality rate of 2.9% was an overestimation based on limited COVID-19 tests that inflated the rate.
“This was confirmed by the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from US stating, ‘the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 are similar to those of severe seasonal influenza,’ having a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%,” he added.8 As for the efficacy of face masks, SARS-CoV-2, which is about 1,000 times smaller than face masks’ thread diameter, can easily pass through a mask.
A meta-analysis of 39 studies also found “possibly no difference between N95 versus surgical masks and probably no difference between surgical versus no mask in risk for influenza or influenza-like illness” in community settings.9
Physiological and Psychological Effects of Masks
By mechanically restricting breathing, wearing a face mask may lead to a low level of oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia) along with excessive carbon dioxide in your bloodstream (hypercapnia).
In turn, Vainshelboim wrote, “Chronic low-grade hypoxemia and hypercapnia as result of using face mask can cause exacerbation of existing cardiopulmonary, metabolic, vascular and neurological conditions.” In addition, wearing a face mask could lead to the following physiological effects:10
Shortness of breath
Increase lactate concentration
Decline in pH levels
Increase in stress hormones level (adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol)
Increased muscle tension
Psychological effects were also noted, which include:11
Activation of “fight or flight” stress response
Compromised cognitive performance
Long-term health consequences are also likely, including:12
Increased predisposition for viral and infection illnesses
Exacerbation of existing conditions and diseases
Accelerated aging process
Breathing through mask materials, and rebreathing the same air, also poses a high likelihood of self-contamination that could have the end result of suppressing the immune system. Vainshelboim explained:13
“In addition to hypoxia and hypercapnia, breathing through facemask residues bacterial and germs components on the inner and outside layer of the facemask. These toxic components are repeatedly rebreathed back into the body, causing self-contamination.
Breathing through facemasks also increases temperature and humidity in the space between the mouth and the mask, resulting in a release of toxic particles from the mask’s materials.
A systematic literature review estimated that aerosol contamination levels of facemasks include 13 to 202,549 different viruses.14 Rebreathing contaminated air with high bacterial and toxic particle concentrations along with low O2 and high CO2 levels continuously challenge the body homeostasis, causing self-toxicity and immunosuppression.”
Are Masks Just Virtue Signaling?
In May 2020, a group of doctors and researchers wrote in a perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine that masks offer little protection outside of health care facilities, except to calm people’s nerves:15
“We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection,” they wrote, and went on to describe masks as playing a “symbolic role” as “talismans” to increase the perception of safety, even though “such reactions may not be strictly logical.” “Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety, over and above whatever role they may play in reducing transmission of COVID-19,” they add.
Since then, masks have indeed taken on a symbolic role, one that presents an outward visible sign that you’re obeying COVID protocols and are acting as a “moral” COVID citizen. AIER pointed out that this mask orthodoxy is part of what’s driving the rampant censorship online, including by YouTube.
“YouTube has taken it upon itself to censor the opinions of esteemed scientists that depart from the orthodoxy on masks. This is not surprising given that masks have become dogma – a visible symbol of compliance and fealty to the medical/political agenda that elevates the coronavirus above all else,” Tucker wrote.16
Calls for Children to Stop Wearing Masks
YouTube removed an AIER video that featured a scientific roundtable on COVID. In the video, Harvard professor Martin Kulldorff commented, “Children should not wear face masks. They don’t need it for their own protection and they don’t need it for protecting other people either.”17
According to YouTube, the video was removed because “it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”18
Kulldorff isn’t the only one who’s calling for children to not be masked. Lucy Johnston, health and social affairs editor with the Sunday Express, asked on Twitter, “Why did Govt not trial use of masks in schools to assess benefits vs risks? Two legal cases now show masks causing both mental & physical harm.”19
One such case was launched in the U.K., with two expert reports speaking out against the use of masks for children. The first, a psychology report,20 states that masks are likely to be causing psychological harm to children and interfering with development.21
“The extent of psychological harm to young people is unknown,” the report states, “due to the unique nature of the ‘social experiment’ currently underway in schools, and in wider society.”22 The second report focused on health, safety and well-being. “Figures illustrate that the risk of death from this disease for this age group is negligible,” the report states, continuing:23
“Hence the introduction of compulsory face covering measures for extended periods of each day in the school, which have potential for a range of long-term health, safety and other harms of as yet unknown quantum, is disproportionate. To introduce these without detailed, thorough and meticulous risk assessment, is potentially reckless.
… The precautionary principle applies especially to children who have little power to oppose decisions made by the adults who hold authority over them and responsibility for them. Those same children will carry the health burden of any errors or omissions for the rest of their lives.
The face covering measure imposed on these secondary schoolchildren are intended to reduce the risk of them contracting an infectious disease Sars-CoV-2, but the risk to this age group of death or serious illness from contracting the same pathogen is almost nil. Most don’t have any symptoms at all or experience a sniffle, a cold or mild influenza like illness.”
German Town Deems School Mask Requirement Unconstitutional
In Weilheim, Germany, a district court concluded that the mask requirement in schools is unconstitutional and void, immediately removing the order on school premises.24 The ruling was made after experts, including psychology professor Christof Kuhbandner, suggested masks pose a significant risk to children’s mental and physical well-being, and could interfere with development by disrupting nonverbal communication.
“Mask mouth,” which increases tooth decay, bad breath and gingivitis, was also cited, as was the ineffectiveness of face masks, with experts stating there is no evidence that face masks reduce the risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2 “at all or even significantly.” Increasingly, people are standing up to the fact that little is known about the long- and short-term risks of masking healthy people.
March 30, 2021, Spain’s central Health Ministry announced a new law, published in the Official State Gazette (BOE),25 that would remove the social distancing component, making masks mandatory in all public spaces, even if no one else is around — including when sunbathing at the beach or swimming in the ocean.26
A number of regional governments immediately suggested that they would defy the initial orders, while the tourism industry also criticized the move,27 forcing the health ministry to reconsider, and showing that standing up for what you believe in continues to make a difference.
Circling back to the featured Medical Hypotheses paper, Vainshelboim is doing just that, even though taking a position against masks today “involves serious professional risk.”
As Tucker wrote, “The paper appears in the midst of an ongoing effort … to normalize and universalize mask wearing, even as many states are repealing their mask mandates with public support. The evidence that doing so has had any effect on the trajectory of the virus is scant at best.”28