Prominent Researchers Say a Widely Cited Study on Wearing Masks Is Badly Flawed

"Masks matter. So does good science. Let's do both."


Outside researchers are calling for the retraction of a study published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that claimed to have discovered a strong correlation between public facemask-wearing and a subsequent decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases. In the challenged study, a team of atmospheric chemists led by Texas A&M chemist Renyi Zhang sought to compare how trends in confirmed diagnoses changed before and after mask-wearing had been mandated in Wuhan, China, Italy, and New York City.

The researchers calculated that mandated masking reduced the number of confirmed cases by more than 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9, and by more than 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9. In addition, the researchers argued that while recommendations like social distancing and frequent hand washing slowed the epidemic, the dramatic reductions in viral transmission in Italy and New York City occurred only after wearing masks in public was mandated. The reduction in confirmed cases occurred, they argued, because masking prevents the transmission of the disease by blocking the atomization of virus-containing respiratory droplets (coughing, sneezing, talking) and their subsequent inhalation by uninfected people. On that evidence, they concluded the airborne spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is the dominant route of infection.

Almost immediately, the study received pushback from outside statisticians and epidemiologists who argued that the study is severely flawed by sloppy statistical analyses. A group of critics has now sent a letter to the editors of the PNAS asking them to immediately retract the study. In addition, an evaluation of the study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health also urges the PNAS to strongly consider retraction.

According to the critics, the study's two most egregious errors were claims that other non-pharmaceutical interventions—e.g., social distancing, quarantine, and handwashing recommendations—had essentially no effect on pandemic trends until facemask-wearing was mandated, and the subsequent conclusion that because masks were so allegedly effective, "airborne transmission represents the only viable route for spreading the disease." The letter urging retraction observes, "While masks are almost certainly an effective public health measure for preventing and slowing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the claims presented in this study are dangerously misleading and lack any basis in evidence."

In interviews with The New York Times, study co-author Mario Molina, who was a co-winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on identifying the man-made chemicals that were eroding the Earth's protective ozone layer, did not back away from the paper's conclusions. "We show in the paper itself that we know things are complicated, we know that there's social distancing, we know that it's sometimes perfect, sometimes not," he said. "Maybe we have some exaggerated sentences here—we're sorry. We should have been a bit more careful with the language."

In addition, the signers of the retraction letter are highly critical of the fact that the article was submitted to the PNAS via the "contributed track," which enables National Academy of Sciences members like Molina to submit both a manuscript and suggested peer reviewers. About 20 percent of PNAS papers are published under this procedure. The journal's editors are awaiting additional information before making a decision about the paper.

As PNAS retraction letter co-signer Harvard emergency medicine physician Jeremy Faust notes on Twitter: "Masks matter. So does good science. Let's do both."

What must be borne in mind is that this fight about the PNAS study's methodology is not over whether or not wearing facemasks is a useful tool in blunting the COVID-19 pandemic. Accumulating evidence shows that wearing facemasks in public does significantly contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19. For example, a preprint article, "Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review" that evaluates the effect on facemask wearing on disease spread notes,

Reducing disease spread requires two things: first, limit contacts of infected individuals via physical distancing and other measures, and second, reduce the transmission probability per contact. The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces the transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected droplets in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high. The decreased transmissibility could substantially reduce the death toll and economic impact while the cost of the intervention is low.

A June 16 article in the journal Health Affairs attempts to analyze how facemask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia affected before and after COVID-19 confirmed case trends. While their statistical study is more carefully caveated than those in the PNAS article, two University of Iowa public health econometricians after examining the effects of mandates instituted between April 8 and May 5 do report:

Using an event study that examines daily changes in county-level COVID-19 growth rates, the study finds that mandating public use of face masks is associated with a reduction in the COVID-19 daily growth rate. Specifically, we find that the average daily county-level growth rate decreases by 0.9, 1.1, 1.4, 1.7, and 2.0 percentage-points in 1–5, 6–10, 11–15, 16–20, and 21+ days after signing [of such mandates], respectively.

These estimates are not small and represent nearly 16–19% of the effects of other social distancing measures (school closures, bans on large gatherings, shelter-in-place orders, and closures of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues) after similar periods from their enactment. The estimates suggest increasing effectiveness and benefits from these mandates over time. By May 22, the estimates suggest that as many as 230,000–450,000 COVID-19 cases may have been averted based on when states passed these mandates. Again, the estimates of averted cases should be viewed cautiously as these are sensitive to assumptions and different approaches for transforming the changes in the daily growth rate estimates to cases.

The upshot is that however flawed the PNAS study is, the balance of the scientific evidence strongly suggests that widespread use of facemasks will significantly help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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  1. Everyone in China wears a mask. They still have huge COVID problems. Nuff said.

    1. You should submit that to PNAS. They’ll take anything these days.

    2. I agree, almost everyone in larger Chinese cities wear masks due to very high air pollution conditions. There is a continual cloud of smog over Chinese cities from coal plants and increased automobiles instead of bicycles. You would think that if masked slowed or prevented the spread of the virus, China would never have had a problem.

    3. Not only that. Looking at that pic with everyone in their masks is depressing. It’s not the sort of society I want to be a part of.

      Masks will have to be proven to be highly effective for me to wear one and put up with such a measure.

      Plus I have poor hearing and it’s been a bit of an irritant listening to people in masks talk to me.

      1. Plus, they don’t don’t do this for the flu, do they? An un-vaccinated flu population is very deadly, but we haven’t seen them (the authorities?) recommending the wearing of masks during flu seasons, huh? This is the best example of virtue signaling in my entire lifetime (74 years) and it’s tragically hilarious.

        1. The ordinary seasonal flu(s) are not nearly as deadly or contagious as the Covid-19 virus, nor does the flu inflict the kind of permanent lung damage or inflict permanent loss of lung capacity (like 20-30%, which is an awful lot, imho.). Nor does the seasonal flu cause nearly as many deaths as Covid-19, either.

      2. Goddammit, Rufus, don’t be a jerk!
        Wear your muzzle, collect your government check, and go vandalize a statue like a good subject!
        (Canada’s American, right?)

      3. Mask wearing is also contraindicated for anybody who has problems breathing–a mask makes you work harder to breathe, which is why you should avoid doing anything aerobic while wearing one, period, and also limit time wearing them as your O2 levels will be dropping no matter what.
        Somebody who already has trouble getting enough oxygen into their system is simply going to be hit harder…and, to be blunt, the research definitely needs to be focusing on effectiveness in real life conditions. That can wildly differ from the effectiveness you get in a lab, as the people in the lab are actually going to know what they are doing, and if you are going to require people buy masks to leave their homes? The only rate of effectiveness that should matter is that in the wild. The only useful thing the data from the lab can give you, here, is if it works at all.

    4. “Everyone in China wears a mask.”

      Not everyone will wear masks inside, although the Chinese are more likely to do so.

      China also has a billion people.

    5. Are you semiconscious? China has about 4,600 deaths, 84,000 cases with 1.4 billion people and, as you point out everyone wears a mask. The U.S. has about 129,000 deaths with 2.4 million cases with 330 million, and half of the U.S. does not wear masks. How is it that you cannot grasp the stark contrast between the two?

  2. I appreciate the multiple forums in which to assert fuck masks. I’m a smiley guy.

      1. I second his motion: fuck masks.

        1. Double ugh. You know that’s not what I meant. Masks, in combination with social distancing and very strict quarantine measures are the only way we’re going to #SlowTheSpread and finally beat this thing #OnceAndForAll. For example, me and my partner haven’t physically “touched” each other in over 14 weeks, and we’re totally fine with it. We did however invent an interesting way of “kissing” over Zoom chat, masks on of course.


          1. beautiful, dude i love love. but still, fuck masks.

            1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new…DSe after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

              Here’s what I do…………….new Income Opportunities

    1. Fuck masks. Im not wearing a mask and interact with people all over the USA every day.

      Even if I get Kungflu, so what. Its less dangerous than deadly strains of Flu/cold.

      1. not a bad impersonation … lacks the crazy energy of the original somehow

    2. I would also like to say fuck masks.

    3. I love these faggots who are like I can’t wear a mask, people can’t shine their smile beams at me, and I can’t hold and kiss random babies.

  3. In reality unless you are stuck in a subway for long periods of time the odds of getting a virus by someone casually passing by in a store or other location is just about nil without them coughing right on you or you touch something they infected from coughing on or wipping their nose then an object like the card reader, hence the mask is of little importance. it takes extended lengths of time for viral loading to occur hence why kids in school are great for passing everything on. that said if you get some in your mask and continue to rebreath through it it will act just like a viral loading since you would be reintroducing the virus to yourself multiple times and your body will assume its under full blown attack.

    1. the store cashier person may need a mask since they will receive increased loading through out the day however the customer has no need for a mask

      1. But the concept as mask as protection for intake of virus requires much more advanced technology and protocol, not just a loosely-worn “health” mask.

        1. Most people wear single use masks for days/weeks on end.

          Masks are virtue signalling that they are scared retards.

      2. Who cares if people get exposed to the Kungflu?

        Since some 2M Americans tested positive for Kunflu there are millions that were exposed and never got it or were asymptomatic.

        In 2017 influenza season 45 millions tested positive and 79,000 directly related to that Flu.

        Of the 110k Americans that have died and tested positive for Wuhanvirus, its still way less than the 650k Americans that die every year of heart disease.

        1. Yes, all of the debate over lockdowns, masks, social distancing, etc. proceeds under the assumption that spreading WuFlu is a bad thing. Spreading it to at risk people is bad, but it should be their responsibility to engage in the above. Unless we believe that we will have a widely deployed and effective vaccine by next Winter, the best approach is to allow this to spread throughout the healthy population so we can achieve herd immunity ASAP. Thanks to the lockdowns, etc., we are a long way from herd immunity. Remember “flattening the curve?”

        2. “Who cares if people get exposed to “Kungflu”- meaning Covid-19?”

          This goes to show how out of touch you seem to be, loveconstitution1789. A person can be infected with the Covid-19 virus, be asymptomatic, and still spread it to other people. That’s why social distancing and wearing of masks in public is necessary. The masks won’t protect the wearer, but they do protect others, especially since droplets in the air are the main way in which the Covid-19 virus is spread. The social distancing may not be a pleasant solution, and the mask may not be perfect, but it’s at least preventing you or other people from inhaling droplets from others.
          The whole goal was to slow the spread of the illness.

    2. There is a “secondary” mechanism by which masks protect you – and it may even be the primary mechanism.

      Mask serve as a reminder to not touch your own face. Germs, including viruses, are everywhere but they are not generally dangerous to us until we do something to transfer them to a vulnerable part of our body. Rarely that something is breathing. Far, far more often, you transfer germs to yourself by licking your fingers, picking your nose, biting your nails, rubbing your eyes, etc. Masks don’t actually stop any of those behaviors but they do slow us down a little bit and remind us to not touch our faces until after we’ve washed our hands.

      1. So maybe we should chain our hands to our waist? That would be more effective than a bacteria soaked “reminder”.

      2. A mask bothers the shit out of me. They’re itchy and never fit quite right. So, they make me touch my face way more than normal.

        1. yep look around everyone is touching their face and touching other things and rubbing their eyes. so I think not chains but everyone must stay at home and have everything delivered by robots.
          I saw a nurse in the background on one of the TV interviews her hands were all under her mask adjusting etc.

          1. Yeah, masks without protocol, akin to procedures in OR settings, are far from magical cures.

          2. Look on the bright side. At least they’re not pushing wearing gloves like they were in the beginning.

            The shields bother me. too.

        2. I have to ask the retards wearing masks to speak up when I talk to them. You cannot hear their retarded voices thru the improperly used cotton.

      3. Rossami, that’s simply not true. At least not with this particular virus. It doesn’t burrow into your skin or beard. If someone who is infected sneezes or coughs on your hand and THEN you pick your nose or lick your fingers, sure, you could get infected. Otherwise walking through a sneeze or cough cloud, or loud singing and talking from an infected person for an e tended time are much more common ways to catch the virus.

      4. Lame.

      5. “Mask serve as a reminder to not touch your own face.”


        Have you ever watched anyone wear a mask? They constantly touch their face! Moving it up, moving it down (often off the nose, to get some fresh, cool air), adjusting it, playing with it because it’s there and not something they are used to… they touch their face all the damned time, because of (not despite) the mask! And they do it with unwashed hands, always. Even paparazzi shots of celebrities show them fiddling with their face diapers, invariably, in one of the pictures.

        These people are transferring whatever is on their hands to a porous surface in front of their nose that has no chance of stopping pathogens from passing (not even the biggest bacteria would be stopped by a bit of T-shirt material). Air is passing through that fabric on the way into the nose and lungs, the place you least want a respiratory virus.

        People think of masks as a talisman to ward off the virus, which is about all it is, but this means they forget about all the other stuff, like washing hands. They make (dumb) people feel safe, so they forget the other measures. I’ve even seen RNs doing this, and they should know better.

        These masks offer no protection for untrained people outside of a controlled clinical setting, and can make things worse when people fiddle with them all the time. This was a known, relatively uncontroversial thing prior to this whole debacle! That’s why CDC initially said not to wear them. That’s why WHO said not to wear them. Then, suddenly, CDC reversed course and told people that an improvised “mask” will help. That’s not science!

        Science would at best be able to tell you that a specific kind of covering tested in a specific way against a specific thing has whatever effect they describe. They can’t possibly even extrapolate that a bit of T-shirt cloth from one manufacturer works as well as a bit from another manufacturer. While they were busy telling us that there is “no evidence” that getting over COVID offers any kind of immunity (which was a lie even then), they tell us wearing an improvised mask will help (something there is really no evidence for), and the reason is that people can spread COVID without knowing they have it (which there is not only no evidence for, but that there is evidence to the contrary).

        We’ve been lied to at every step of this “game,” and the media, CDC, and many state governors (“This thing is DEATH!!1!1” — Andrew Cuomo) have been trying to scare us way out of proportion to the rather minor risk the virus presents for the vast majority of people.

        Fauci said that he lied about not recommending everyone wear masks early on to keep them available for medical professionals (who, unlike regular people, will actually make good use of them). Was there a T-shirt shortage I didn’t hear about? That doesn’t even pass the common sense test. Why lie about their effectiveness if the real reason for the recommendation is to save them for someone else? They could have been saying to use improvised, untested “masks” from the start if that were true.

        I would also hope that actual medical workers have a better supply chain than going to Wal-Mart and buying whatever they have. Am I really depriving a doctor of PPE if I go to Wally World and buy something there? Surely the suppliers that Wal-mart and the major retailers would preferentially send their stuff to a hospital and not the local CVS during a pandemic, yes? Once the shelves were emptied of whatever masks stores already had on hand, they should remain that way if medical workers truly needed the stuff. That’s up to the wholesalers of these things to handle, not the general public.

        It doesn’t pass the “sniff” test.

        Even the “surgical” masks we have access to say “non-medical” on the box, meaning they’re as unproven as your T-shirt. Those are not the ones medical professionals (with their vast liability concerns) would use. If someone got the disease and found out their medical worker was wearing a non-medical mask, there would be trouble.

        It’s clear that one of the things the CDC said has to be false. The idea that they are telling the truth now is pretty hard to support… the facts just don’t point that way.

    3. And Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore…they use masks as well. And have a tiny percentage of the cases and fatalities of Europe and the US.
      As far as China goes, they’ve reported only 3,000 deaths or so. Almost certainly bullshit of course. But there’s also no reason to assume huge numbers of deaths either.

      1. East asia has billions of people that wear masks and that place is crawling with disease.

        Masks have numerous proper uses and the hysteria is not it.

      2. And yet the infection rates in Japan and Korea have been climbing steadily after an initial fall.
        CA which has mandated masks the longest time and has been under lock-down since early March is seeing an increasing surge in new cases. Maybe that is due to mass protests, but more likely it is due to people finding ways to weaken prophylactic measures such as fiddling incessantly with the mask, cross contaminating front and back, etc

  4. Domestic Dissident
    May.16.2017 at 4:34 pm
    Once again, don’t be fooled by the lie that Ron’s buddies are content to leave Washington and Jefferson alone. They’re absolutely the next group of men up on the Jacobin hit list to be purged from history.

    Ron Bailey
    May.16.2017 at 4:36 pm
    DD: I will out in the streets with you defending their accomplishments while acknowledging their flaws.

    1. Just wondering what street you’ve been at, Ron. You know, since you oppose tearing down Founding Father statues and that’s happening now.

      1. He was probably lightning the flag wrapped around Washington’s head on fire

      2. I try to read one article here and can’t make it past the first paragraph.

        Of course, Spencer and his associates have, as my Reason colleague Robby Soave points out, the constitutional right to their express their views in public.

        “as my colleague Robby Soave points out” JFC

      3. It didn’t take a genius to see the original attacks on Confederate statues a couple of years back was going to move up to other figures.

        I’m sure there are comments I made like DD to that effect.

        Not only did Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln get attacked now they’re looking at Gandhi and Jesus.

        Reminds me of the episode on The Simpsons when Marge had a problem with the statue of David and it quickly became fodder for the mob who wanted to censor it (I forget the details). Marge then found herself defending it.

        Guess what? Masterpieces of Western art are next.

        White supremacy has a loonnnng leash.

        Reason is just a tad too naive when it comes to border control, the riots and not seeing that there’s a slightly bigger problem at play here than mere taking down statues.

        It’s a direct attack on our common heritage.

        John Stuart Mill worried about tyranny of the majority. He got one part of it right. Except it’s tyranny of minority.

        And I have no idea how to stop it except for the West to stop being so pathetically weak minded and disgraceful when it comes to standing up for its history and culture.

        I don’t see enough concern for what’s happening.

        1. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.”
          – John Dalberg-Acton

          All statues are statues of assholes. And often, the assholes belonged to bad people.

          1. How about all the paintings by Charles Russel and Frederick Remington of the America West? Shall we rip them off the walls of museums, pile ’em up on the front lawns thereof and light ’em up with lighter fluid? Oh! The humanity!

          2. If you are destroying a statue that is on someone else’s property then you are the asshole

            1. Eunuch is definitely an asshole

  5. According to the CDC website, masks are wonderful for the Communist Chinese Virus ONLY.
    For the ‘real’ flu, they cannot make a recommendation one way or the other.
    I call political bullshit.
    If you want to wear a mask, go right ahead.
    If you want to tell me I have to wear a mask, get off my lawn.

    1. I’m told the medical community didn’t screw up the messaging.

      1. Public health officials haven’t impressed me.

        Especially the ones who (including the assholes at the WHO) said social justice is more important than social distancing in okaying the protests and riots.

        Everyone is so spectacularly full of shit I lost respect for them.

        1. Just recently? I lost respect for them when they locked up all the Japanese Americans just after Pearl Harbor.

    2. Unless you have a doctor’s order not to wear a mask due to a medical condition such as asthma or any other respiratory problem(s) that makes breathing more difficult for you under ordinary circumstances, then you really SHOULD wear a mask when you go out in public.

      If you’re perfectly healthy and you don’t wear a mask when you do go out in public at all, then you’re putting your own health and life at risk, as well as your neighbors, friends and family, especially when you refuse to social distance like you’re supposed to, either.

      1. given cross-contamination of front and back surface and leakage of aerosols around the sides, top and bottom, the mask offer at best a factor of two protection, distance and exposure time are at least as important.

  6. Whether or not masks are effective in reducing the spread of Covid all of these measures are reducing our collective immunity to this disease and those that will follow. You’re fucking with a process by human beings survive. This is dangerous shit and it needs to end now.

    1. Exactly. We should have taken the hit up front. Like Sweden.

      But someone had to go all ‘save granny’ and that became the prevailing ‘ethos’. Everyone was repeating the same jargon. It wasn’t rooted in science and that’s what pisses me off.

      And they’re still acting they can ‘ward off’ the virus. I think they’re going to ty and play it this way because they believe a vaccine is coming but I think this is completely foolish.

      The virus simply isn’t as lethal as they hysterically claimed.

      Of course there are going to spikes. We were in bloody lockdown.

      Stupid, stupid, stupid.

      Stupid to have put ourselves in debt like this with all the unintended consequences that came with the lockdown.


      Until I see an actual study that refutes my impression and observations, I’m sticking to: Stupid.

      1. I ESPECIALLY hate the retarded theater they doing – or plan to do – in schools. The demographic least affected and we’re pulling all this protocol bull shit including on-line classes in some cases.

        Kids from 5 to 16. BACK TO SCHOOL FULL STOP.

        Same with daycare.

        Enough of this shit.

        1. “This sucks because children aren’t getting enough government schooling” is currently my favorite libertarian take on the response to COVID.

          1. Yeah! Why don’t the little hoodlums burn the fucking public schools down. Now THERE is a project we can all get onboard with! Swing those sledgehammers and take ’em down one brick at a time! Power to the pupil?

          2. Are governmenst no longer charging property tax? If not then they are charging for services not rendered

          3. There is an inherent contradiction in that statement because the pubic education system has produced the illiberal, illiterate shit heads roaming the streets toppling statues and acting like little whiny passive aggressive, narcissistic, bitches destroying people’s property.

            BUT. It’s more than just about that smart-alec. We’re projecting our fears onto them and we’re pulling them off an important socialization routine. Never mind we taught them a bloody awful lesson: To cower and take drastic measures.

            Science driven lockdown my fucken ass.

      2. Hey, listen up, Rufus the Monocled! A good part of the reason that we’re in this mess right now is because Donald Trump, who was totally aware of the Covid-19 virus back in mid to late January of this year and had six weeks to make sure that it could at least be contained refused to do anything, and he just laughed it off. Now we’re all paying for what this asshole of a President, Donald Trump, did. He doesn’t care that well over a hundred thousand lives here in the United States were lost as a consequence of Covid-19, either.

        1. Fuck off, in January you were blathering away about impeaching Trump. How did that work out for you?

  7. All I see is mask wearers who fiddle with and touch their masks. Continuously. Until a thin layer of grime forms at the surface, in many cases visible (yuck!), which means they are breathing in that bacterial load day in day out. Double yuck.

    So far I’ve been able to do basic grocery shopping without one, but everyplace else—from local boutiques to museums to the bike store—require them. So I just don’t go anywhere. Won’t participate in this performative nonsense, which is likely more dangerous to my health than the virus.

    1. >>Won’t participate in this performative nonsense


    2. most people continue to use the same mask every day no matter how dirty and place it who knows where when not using. its a cluster
      If you wear a mask if it can’t be cleaned needs to set out in sunlight for a minimum of 48 hours. sunlight kills it but it takes days apparently

      1. The new coronavirus is quickly destroyed by sunlight, according to new research announced by a senior US official on Thursday, though the study has not yet been made public and awaits external evaluation.

        William Bryan, science and technology advisor to the Department of Homeland Security secretary, told reporters at the White House that government scientists had found ultraviolet rays had a potent impact on the pathogen, offering hope that its spread may ease over the summer.

        “Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air,” he said.

        Unless the medical community screwed up the messaging.

        1. That’s a bunch of BS, Don’t look at me! There’s absolutely NO evidence what. so. ever that the Covid-19 virus is destroyed by sunlight.

        1. No way he said sarcastically they were saying it could survive days Maybe weeks thus you must disinfect all food products. They weren’t wrong again were they. They wouldn’t know water was wet even if you drowned them in it

      2. You can put it in the oven at 175°F for 30 minutes

        1. Or wash the mask in a weak bleach solution (2 TBS per half gallon).

    3. Fine. Stay at home and sulk then. All these meanie scientists and the people who listen to experts instead of youtube conspiracists won’t miss you.

      1. You mean the meanie scientists who advise against them?

      2. Jesus you are somehow an even bigger pussy than all the Drumpf-sucking sycophants around here.

    4. Right on, renad. I’ll put on a face mask when they pry my cold, dead fingers from around my double — bird-flipping digits.

  8. “the signers of the retraction letter are highly critical of the fact that the article was submitted to the PNAS via the “contributed track,” which enables National Academy of Sciences members like Molina to submit both a manuscript and suggested peer reviewers.”

    What kind of bullshit process is this?

    1. One that allows PNAS to charge upwards of a few thousand dollars a subscription, depending on the institution.

      Neat work if you can get it, and LOL at picking your peer reviewers ahead of time.

      1. The editors should also supplement any suggested reviewers with ones not on the list and from different institutions (or countries)

  9. Excellent article, as usual Dr. Bailey. I’ve been trying hard to convince my peers that masks, in combination with social distancing and strict quarantine measures are key to #SlowingTheSpread. This thing is far from over and is getting worse by the day, especially after Drumpf’s illegal campaign rally. It’s a scary time to be alive, stay safe out there Dr. Bailey.


    1. Never change OBL. You are the best parody here, and frankly better than a lot of the posters.

      1. It’s a low bar.

  10. Would anyone have listened if non-prominent scientists had made the exact same arguments?

  11. Slow the spread and prolong the process. Why? Unless the delay results in a vaccine or therapy, the collateral damage cost of obtaining it is an entire waste, and with it the cost still is real in terms of economic and life loss. We should have maske required times for those at high risk to do their essential business. All other times should be mask optional among the lower risk to get this behind us sooner at less collateral damage cost.

    1. No, FreeMktMonkey! Masks worn in public and social distancing are required for EVERYBODY for a damned good reason: the Covid-19 virus is extremely contagious–and way deadlier than the seasonal flu(s) that come every fall and winter, and even healthy younger people are more at risk for getting Covid-19 than many people originally thought. Part of it, however, is due to the fact that in some parts of the United States, such as Florida, Arizona, and some deeper Southern States, such as Alabama, younger people have been flaunting the rules of social distancing and wearing masks in public, thereby putting themselves, as well as other people (i. e. family, friends and neighbors) at risk.

  12. It’s not good saying “Masks Matter” without evidence, and all the evidence so far as been very sketchy or under conditions that don’t happen in the real world (like that stupid study involving hamsters)

    Science starts off with a hypothesis, “Do masks matter?” and does experiments to see the result.

    But they are working from an assumed position

  13. Lincoln County, Oregon

    Face Covering Directive
    General directive: All individuals in Lincoln County are required to wear face coverings during any indoor public setting or outdoor public location where a person will be in within six feet of another individual, who does not share the same household.

    People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.

    1. Of course they would be so retarded. Oregon.

      It’s all political and you have to be one dumbass to accept this directive. In the summer.

      There’s a wicked heat wave here. Forcing mask wearing in these conditions is CRIMINAL.

  14. “Maybe we have some exaggerated sentences here—we’re sorry. We should have been a bit more careful with the language.”

    /grates teeth.

    I hope he wasn’t being flippant. I mean, it’s not like people are under great angst and anger these days where careful language could go a long way to soothing their minds.

    I swear….to God…..

    /grates teeth.

  15. Why, in God’s name, would you want to slow the spread of the virus? To draw out the suffering? To make the disease still deadly a year after it would have naturally passed through the population, while slightly hastening the death of people who most like would have died this year, anyway. Stupid stupid stupid. Stop the planet, I want off.

    1. Come on, DenverJ! The real purpose is to dampen the economy prior to the election in November. Afterwards, there will be a miraculous new revelation negating the need for masks.

      1. Depends on who wins doesn’t it?
        BTW, has anyone asked Joe Biden if he will accept the results of this election?
        Has anyone seen Joe Biden lately?

    2. That’s a dangerously stupid, irresponsible and backwards attitude to have, DenverJ! The fact that Covid-19 is so deadly and does spread much more extensively and quickly than the seasonal flu(s) is exactly why most people, especially adults 65 years old and over, as well as others at risk, and everybody else, have to wear masks when they’re out in public, in order to protect other people.

      1. [citation needed]

  16. I welcome the various discussions where to declare screw covers. I’m a smiley fellow. Best nursery school in noida Get going!

  17. Is there a study that examines the efficacy of wearing a mask while asymptomatic vs while symptomatic? If this is not distinguished it seems disingenuous to create policy around universal wearing of masks.

    I suspect (I am open to being corrected) virtually all of the benefit comes from masking those with active symptoms, and yet as the government tends to do since there only tool is a hammer, they force everyone to wear them.

    1. Well, all of this assumes a unique aspect of the Communist Chinese Virus, doesn’t it?
      Because the CDC has an entirely different take on masks for the ‘real’ flu:

      CDC statement on masks and the ‘real’ flu:

      Background; Masks are not usually recommended in non-healthcare settings; however, this guidance provides other strategies for limiting the spread of influenza viruses in the community.
      Unvaccinated Asymptomatic Persons, Including Those at High Risk for Influenza Complications;
      No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses.

      So there is something magical about the Communist Chinese Virus that a single layer of fabric, not sealed around the mouth and nose is not only effective, but effective enough to be required by law, while that same object has no recommendation for anything else.

      Or just possibly, it is all political posturing to benefit a fascist takeover of the USA political process.

      Boring details:

      1. Viruses are obligate parasites. They cannot reproduce without destroying the cells of their host. It’s all they do! They do not eat, they do not excrete waste, they do not create colonies or move about on their own. All they do is wait until they come in contact with a host cell with the suitable protein configuration in the cell membrane for them to attach to, at which time they will latch on and inject their DNA or RNA payload. That’s it for that virion (virus particle)… it’s done its job, and now it is dead, if it ever was actually alive (a point of debate among scientists).

        The cell that now has the virus’ DNA in it stops doing whatever it was doing for your body. The cell then acts as an incubator to grow more viruses, and when they are ready, the cell membrane bursts, and the new virions are released into the host’s body to repeat the cycle.

        The damage a virus does to the body is direct… one virus will destroy one cell. The more virions present, the more cells that will be destroyed. The more cells destroyed, the sicker the individual will be. Viral load (the total number of virions present in the body) is strongly related to how severe the illness is. It’s also a strong indicator of how much viral shedding there would be.

        It’s obvious that someone who is shedding large numbers of virions must have large numbers of virions in the lungs to begin with. Since the growth of that many virus particles requires the destruction of much lung tissue, you know that person must be quite sick. There’s no way a person can have that many parasites in his body and not be sickened by all of the tissue they are destroying.

        It’s well understood in virology that the number of virions a person is exposed to in a short time is closely related to that person’s chance of getting sick, and if they do get sick, a heaver virus exposure will mean they get more sick than they would have otherwise. This makes perfect sense, of course, given how viruses work, and that each virus particle can kill exactly one human cell.

        The conclusion is clear. The sicker the person, the more virus they have. The more virus they have, the more virus they expel. The more virus they expel, the more contagious they are. People who have so few of the virus that they don’t feel sick have, necessarily, a low viral load, and they expel only small numbers of virus particles. They don’t cough (that would be a symptom, and we are talking about asymptomatic people), and they don’t sneeze from COVID anyway. Coughing and sneezing are by far the most effective means of spreading a respiratory virus through the air.

        What that amounts to is that the media/CDC image of the person who has COVID but does not know it, and who spreads it as freely as one who is wheezing and coughing, is a fabrication. Asymptomatic carriers of the disease may not be able to spread it at all, and if they are, it would be only under the ideal circumstances… close contact for hours, in a confined space… maybe even requiring contact between the people’s mucosa (as in kissing). Otherwise, the small number of virions being shed just is not enough to make someone sick. It takes a certain number of them in a short time to be able to take root… a small number will be dispatched by the immune system before the person feels anything.

        It can take days, even a week or more for a COVID infection to grow to the point that the person feels sick. During that whole time, the viral load is low, which we know because he does not feel sick, meaning that not enough cells have been destroyed to make that happen. Once he reaches the threshold of feeling sick, the virus has reached a level that it is now clinically significant, and the contagion is real. Once there is an onset of coughing, the level of contagion leaps substantially.

        If you are coughing, stay home, for the love of $deity. If you have a sub-febrile temperature <100.3F, you're not going to spread the virus, even if you have it, by casual contact in a store. Wearing a mask if you have no symptoms is not going to protect anyone, since you're not a threat anyway, and can increase the odds that you catch the disease because masks make people touch their faces a lot more.

        1. I wrote:

          “If you have a sub-febrile temperature <100.3F, you're not going to spread the virus, even if you have it, by casual contact in a store. "

          That should have read, " If you have a sub-febrile temperature <100.3F, and no other symptoms, you're not going to spread the virus, even if you have it, by casual contact in a store. "

        2. Coughing and sneezing are by far the most effective means of spreading a respiratory virus through the air.

          Yes. And even though they aren’t particularly symptoms of covid, they ARE symptoms of allergies, cold, influenza, etc. Someone who has covid is not immune from the others. They can have both – and next sniffles season, people will have both. So even if they only have low-level covid – a long way from symptoms, they’ll spread it via a cold/flu/allergy sneeze/cough.

    2. What I’d really like to know as well. The “D” in COVID stands for disease. How can I have a disease while experiencing zero symptoms of it? I’m convinced the whole asymptomatic spread thing is horseshit.

    3. I agree that most of the benefit is – to others if the mask wearer is infected and shedding virus via coughs/sneezes. But since there’s no reason in the US to believe that the infected give a damn about not infecting others, there is good reason to believe that mask can help people protect themselves a bit from someone else’s ‘sneeze cloud’.

      Personally I don’t think masks have a significant effect until sniffles season starts back up.

  18. If a fart can get through underwear and jeans, masks are supposed to contain Kungflu?

  19. Good science would say that we should treat people with Covid-19 with the best available treatment, with the government using its power to greatly increase the production and distribution of the antiviral. Instead the antiviral treatment is constrained by the FDA, which confines its use to “severely” ill patients (including people on ventilators who will likely die anyway), and now HHS, which is dribbling out the available supplies of the antiviral. So instead of concentrating on the treatment, the authorities concentrated on turning the economy and civil society upside down, to compensate for the inability of the agencies to respond quickly and in accord with good science.

  20. the researchers argued that while recommendations like social distancing and frequent hand washing slowed the epidemic, the dramatic reductions in viral transmission in Italy and New York City occurred only after wearing masks in public was mandated electrician grand rapids

  21. “In addition, the researchers argued that while recommendations like social distancing and frequent hand washing slowed the epidemic, the dramatic reductions in viral transmission in Italy and New York City occurred only after wearing masks in public was mandated. ”
    Perhaps, as people became aware of prophylactic measures against CORVID-19, “social distancing and frequent hand washing”, as well as cleaning of public surfaces, increased in step, or even more, with wearing masks.
    Cleaning shared surfaces is as important as wearing masks: “A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.”
    My question: How could the researchers even measure, or attempt, to account for, these three preventative vectors?

  22. my grandma is already dead.. no mask. here is Ca it says you dont have to wear a mask if you are unconscious. That should cover about all of Sacramento/LA and SF

  23. Sure, wearing masks when you’re in a more close environment with other people around logically would lower the probability that one infected person would transmit the virus to another. But wearing a mask while driving alone in your car? Or walking outside in the open air? Not so much. Many people are wearing masks when/where they don’t need to, most likely because it makes them feel better, not that it’s beneficial in any way.

    1. Wearing a mask when out in public is best, because there’s no telling if or when someone who’ll pass you who has the virus, and the Covid-19 virus is infectious enough that it can spread, even though a person who’s asymptomatic.

      1. Wrong. The number of virions in aerosols transferred in passing a person at 6 ft for 5 seconds is negligible.

  24. Ronald Bailey continues to pretend he knows something about science. He doesn’t know enough to even ask good questions – or to spot fake studies, which he keeps quoting.

    A clue for Bailey: sound science isn’t made up or the result of modeling based on untested and unprovable assumptions.

  25. I want to know how they avoided a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy in their analysis—ie, were the masking measures adopted because the virus was peaking alarmingly, meaning that it would have declined anyway?

  26. I am so sick of this fucking debate. Many people here have already pointed out that people constantly touch their face while wearing a mask (it’s uncomfortable), pull it down under their chin or at least below their nose (what’s the point, then?), and reuse the same filthy mask day after day. How the fuck is that hygienic? “Science” is not a monolith, and “Science” never says anything. This is best-guesswork based on flawed studies and assuming causation over correlation.

    I’ve said it so many times, but I am going to say it again – screaming it into the void – thinking maybe someone, somewhere will pick it up. QUALITY OF LIFE MATTERS, TOO. I don’t want to live in a world where we wear masks, stand on dots, can’t attend a wedding or funeral (“but a giant street-party/protest is TOTALLY FINE” – Science), are afraid to visit family, can’t attend concerts or plays or movies or art crawls, and spend most of our time hiding in our homes watching shit TV.

    Look, we’re mortal. We can’t “beat” the virus. It’s not a thing – stop trying to make fetch happen. Viruses mutate quickly, which is why the flu vaccine changes every year and is not universally effective. Not everyone gets a vaccine. And this virus may be deadlier than the flu (or it may not, “We don’t agree on the numbers” – Science), but it still has AT A BARE MINIMUM a 95% survival rate.

    I feel desperate and hopeless because I have no control over any of this. But I wish we would resist the urge to “do something.” Go out, live your life, wash your hands, don’t lick doorknobs, take your chances. If you prefer not to take your chances, feel free to stay home and rely on Instacart and GrubHub. That’s a personal decision.

    We can’t keep living like this. Would somebody with some amount of power, or the ability to reach a larger audience PLEASE acknowledge that?

    (Sorry for all the caps, but I don’t know how to make italics or bold in this format.)

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