What’s Behind The Mask?

Here’s a quick cruise through some of the science of masks. Perhaps the most important study says this:

Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients.

Unfortunately, that’s the main basis used to sell masks to the public—that masks are mostly not for uninfected people to protect themselves, but to prevent infected people from infecting others …

… except the study says that masks don’t prevent viral spread from infected people in any meaningful way.

Onwards … below are the studies (emphasis in all cases is mine). Please be clear, I am not on either Team Mask or Team No-Mask. I wear one sometimes, and not other times. It’s a proper N-95 mask. I make no pretense that these are all the studies, there are many more, and there are experts on both sides of the question taking diametrically opposite positions. Here are some of them.



The  University of New South Wales said the use of cloth masks by healthcare workers may put them at increased risk of respiratory illness and viral infections, and their global use should be discouraged. They reported that cloth masks are only marginally beneficial in protecting individuals from particles less than 2.5 micrometers. As referenced in the  New England Journal of Medicine, the size of Coronavirus particles varied between 0.06 micrometers and 0.14 micrometers.

chain link mosquito fence

The study found  was much higher among healthcare workers wearing cloth masks.

The penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% compared to medical masks with 44%.

Professor Raina MacIntyre, lead study author and head of UNSW’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine, said the results of the study caution against the use of cloth masks.

In the  British Medical Journal a 2015 study says that contaminated masks and masks holding moisture and pathogen retention can increase the risk of infection.

“… over three times the risk of contracting influenza-like illness if a cloth mask is used versus no mask at all.”

That is to say, not only did the masks not protect the wearers—the masks actually made the wearers sicker …

Next, cloth and surgical masks do not have a fit test. When worn, gaps around the edges allow small particles to enter the respiratory system, as well as to leave the mask. This is a known problem with no easy answer.

Also, according to the May 2010 edition of  PLoS One, lack of eye protection was a primary risk factor of SARS-CoV transmission.

In  Epidemics 2017, a meta-analysis of a number of studies concluded that masks made little difference, viz:


We review the effectiveness of PPMs against pandemic influenza infection.

Hand hygiene provided a significant protective effect.

Facemask use provided a non-significant protective effect.

A “non-significant protective effect” means the mask did NOT significantly protect the wearer.

Then we have a very important study in the Annuals of Internal Medicine, April 2020:

Discussion: Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients. Prior evidence that surgical masks effectively filtered influenza virus (1) informed recommendations that patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear face masks to prevent transmission (2). However, the size and concentrations of SARS–CoV-2 in aerosols generated during coughing are unknown. Oberg and Brousseau (3) demonstrated that surgical masks did not exhibit adequate filter performance against aerosols measuring 0.9, 2.0, and 3.1 μm in diameter. Lee and colleagues (4) showed that particles 0.04 to 0.2 μm can penetrate surgical masks. The size of the SARS–CoV particle from the 2002–2004 outbreak was estimated as 0.08 to 0.14 μm (5); assuming that SARS-CoV-2 has a similar size, surgical masks are unlikely to effectively filter this virus.

When infectious people cough, the virus escapes into the environment, mask or no mask. No surprise to me. No simple mask is going to be able to contain a cough or a sneeze. It just blows out all around the edges.

What is a surprise, to me at least, is that the coronavirus goes right through a surgical mask …

And in closing, the World Health Organization advises people to wear a mask, but only if they are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus or taking care of someone with COVID-19 infection. Here’s their graphic:

who advice when to usemasks


My conclusion from all of these studies on masks?


what virologists wear

Stay well, dear friends, enjoy the sun, smell the flowers.


80 thoughts on “What’s Behind The Mask?

  1. Willis – as far as I can tell, masks will not stop the virus getting through. However, whether you become ill does seem to depend on the actual dose of virus you receive as well as how well your immune system responds to it. If your immune system isn’t working well, I suppose in theory you’d only need to get a single virus and then wait for it to multiply. For people either receiving organ transplants or undergoing cancer or other treatments where the immune system is depressed, I’d speculate that they are far more susceptible to a small load of virus. On the other hand, for people who’ve been out in the sun a lot (and thus have a high vitamin-D level) and have sufficient Zinc intake, a much larger viral load could be needed in order to overwhelm the immune system.

    When I was a kid, one particular teacher used to spray the people he was talking at. Nowadays I’d figure him as a possible “superspreader” of any bug he’d got. This is the sort of situation where a mask would be somewhat useful. It will catch those larger droplets when someone says P, S, or other words/letters with a fast air-stream. I’ve also noticed droplets produced when I cough, since they produce little lenses on the netbook screen and magnify a particular pixel. The mask would stop those from travelling in the air. Another point about masks is that the expelled air is spread out and slowed relative to what it would be without the mask. Any infected air expelled won’t travel quite as far.

    The mask won’t stop you receiving a viral load when it’s aerosolised, since the virus will pass pretty well straight through like your mosquitoes and the chain-link fence. It would however stop the larger droplets that presumably contain a lot more virus. As such, you will likely get a bit less of a total viral load than you would have without the mask. That might be enough less that your immune system can cope with it rather than falling ill.

    It seems to me that wearing a mask will have a small effect on whether you catch a virus and a larger effect on whether you spread it if you’re infected. If everyone wore a mask when out and about it should produce a measurable fall in virus transmission, even if that is only 10% (but I don’t have the figures). Even such a small gain would reduce the rate of increase in infected people, and could be worth the effort.

    It also seems to me that, given the number of people who don’t get symptoms, or only mild ones, that the main gain would be bolstering vitamin-D and Zinc levels in the general population. Maybe especially in the old, and more especially for those in care homes. Maybe the WHO will declare vitamin-D supplements and Zinc tablets as being too dangerous to use, so best to do that before they notice….


    • There is a difference between surgical masks and N95 masks. I completely agree with you about surgical masks. Completely counterproductive.


    • Sir, excellent observations. and I concur with your post excepting this, “Even such a small gain would reduce the rate of increase in infected people, and could be worth the effort.”

      Personally, I would rather be subjected to a dose ranging from small to heavy in order to gain a measure of immunity to that particular virus and its possible forthcoming siblings and cousins. I was born in the first half of last century, and possess excellent health, so I recognize the risk involved, but it is better to gain immunity presently than await a similar future pest when “nothing works as before”.

      Herd immunity is far more important than reducing the spread of the infection. Unhealthy old folks be aware, however, and self-protect.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “old folks be aware, however, and self-protect.” You got that right! People in general need to get hip to protecting themselves, it ain’t the government’s job and they suk at it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I believe the “American” way to be to educate people (in the present alleged pandemic) so they they can pursue a path they choose. For example, open stadiums, schools, businesses. etc. to full capacity with no liability to the owners; the patrons can choose to wear masks or not, maintain distance by buying the adjacent seating or not.

          Self responsibility is the key, not fascist nanny state mandates.


          • I am entirely over this crap. CCP’s actions during November, December and January are of far more interest than this mask crap. People in China, Japan, Indonesia, India etc etc, wear masks in public when they choose, and some choose a lot of mask wearing. There is that pesky choice thing, seems a lot of “people” in America want to limit choice on a whole lot of stuff.


      • Chad – as I understand things, getting a small-enough dose of virus will train your immune system and you will not therefore get sick when you later on (for whatever reason) get a large dose of it. Though I’m also (somewhat surprisingly) in the 65+ age group, I’ll be wearing a mask when out in town just in case I’ve become infected and didn’t notice. It won’t eliminate the risk of passing the virus on, but it does seem that it should reduce it.

        Agreed that herd immunity will in the end protect everyone including the old. We don’t yet know how long immunity will last with this one, and data is being collected on this at the moment. We won’t however have herd immunity to a sufficiently-mutated virus, and RNA viruses do tend to mutate pretty rapidly so no-one can predict what will happen to that herd immunity in a year. It obviously doesn’t apply to the various ‘flus that go around each year.

        Fairly obviously, we won’t be able to afford a lockdown next year, or possibly every year if there’s a lot of mutation. Also fairly obviously, any vaccine is likely to need tweaking every so often (currently undefined as to how long that period is) to protect against the current mutation. In other words, looks like we’ll have to learn to live with this and the old (and possibly unhealthy) people will need to take their own extra precautions. After all, the excess Winter deaths, largely as a result of a ‘flu of greater or less virulence, show that we accept a certain number of deaths anyway. Of course, being born implies that you’ll die at some point….

        Maybe the thing that really surprises me in this whole situation is that the possible cheap and safe ways of reducing the death toll are not being publicised by the CDC, WHO, or any mainstream media. Professor Raoult’s Z-pack, replicated by Zelenko, reduces or stops the replication of the virus in the body and thus, if given early when symptoms are first seen, should result in few people getting ill and even fewer getting seriously ill. Instead, the WHO has stated that it’s too dangerous to use, based on overdoses on already-seriously-ill patients. There’s also the connection with vitamin-D and Zinc deficiencies that would be dead cheap to fix and should reduce the number of people that even reach those early symptoms. Such prophylactic measure can be easily applied by us “older cohort” and reduce our personal chances of ending up in the medical system. Personally I try to avoid going to the doctor, and avoid visiting a hospital except where I need to take someone else, because there’s a higher probability of catching something nasty there since that’s where people congregate when they are ill. I’ve found that most things recover on their own without needing a doctor – might get better a bit faster or be more comfortable in the process, but it’s better to only go there when absolutely necessary, as when an antibiotic is needed since they cannot be freely bought here but need a prescription.

        Funny thing is that the policies actually applied have resulted in old folks’ homes having a very high level of infection, and thus also a high death-rate. This will result in a reduced cost to the governments in the future, but I can’t work out if that is an intended or unintended consequence of the policies.

        Still, I’d agree it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves rather than expect the government to do so. Discussions on the net certainly help in deciding which information is valid and which isn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Steven Mosher May 27, 2020 at 3:45 pm

        “However, whether you become ill does seem to depend on the actual dose of virus you receive as well”


        Thanks much for that. It’s a very good overview of what we know about how and where the virus spreads.

        Of course some writers of posts were telling people to wear masks a long time ago.

        Of course you couldn’t just contribute something positive to the post. You had to slime yourself with a personal attack.

        Yes, I advised people to wear a mask.

        Now, look above. Please point out where I advised people to NOT wear a mask. You can’t. I didn’t.

        I also stated, in terms I would have thought that even you would understand, that:

        Please be clear, I am not on either Team Mask or Team No-Mask. I wear one sometimes, and not other times. It’s a proper N-95 mask.

        But nooo, for some reason you are compelled to snipe at me, to the point where it appears you forget how to read.

        I would still advise anyone who is concerned to wear a mask wherever they are concerned, which is most people. But indeed, it is much less of a panacea than I thought. And here’s what may be shocking news to you:

        When events change, I change my mind. What do you do?
        Paul Samuelson

        So I’m sorry. “The Science” is changing fast on this one. Your attempt to shame me for refining my position as new facts and studies became available isn’t working.



        • “Of course you couldn’t just contribute something positive to the post. You had to slime yourself with a personal attack.

          Yes, I advised people to wear a mask.

          Now, look above. Please point out where I advised people to NOT wear a mask. You can’t. I didn’t.

          I also stated, in terms I would have thought that even you would understand, that:”

          1. why is it a personal attack to remind folks that you advised them to wear a mask
          without qualification? ( n95, surgical, otherwise).
          2. if you are Not on team mask, or not on not team mask, why would you even say anything but
          : I have no opinion:

          if you have changed your mind or want to qualify your beliefs. Then say so directly and upfront
          in your piece.

          Quoting your words, reminding you of past opinions, is not a personal attack. A personal attack would
          be something like “your feet stink”

          If I told you to grow a thicker skin that would also be a personal attack, but I am not doing that.

          Shame you? Nope. I was read through the article. I fully expected you to explain to people how your
          views have changed.. something like, “HEY, my views are evolving”

          “Thanks much for that. It’s a very good overview of what we know about how and where the virus spreads.”

          yes after the misuse of the diamond princess as a dataset I have been religiously posting
          all the resources and cites I can on super spreader events. None of this is new. It was known
          months ago.


          • weirdly if I had argued against masks and then changed my mind, I am sure you would not ignore it.




          • Mosh, what is the total deaths in Sweden compared to previous years? How does that compare to 2018 (a heavy flu season)?

            Recently Yoram Lass (formerly director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Health) gave an interview and said “total deaths” was the only way to look at it.


            “Mortality due to coronavirus is a fake number. Most people are not dying from coronavirus. Those recording deaths simply change the label.”

            “The only real number is the total number of deaths – all causes of death, not just coronavirus.”


          • Here in PA Medical Examiners and Coroners have rebelled against state level directives to list as many deaths as possible Chinese Disease no matter the actual cause of death. People are getting tired of this kabuki theater horsecrap.


      • Thanks, Steve. Nice to have some figures on the actual dose of virus necessary, even if they cannot yet be accurate but an educated guess. I’ve passed that link on to my friends.

        Though masks will catch the bigger droplets I emit, and thus reduce the chances of me infecting someone else, they will not provide a significant protection to me if I’m in the wrong environment. Also on the news I’m seeing that they are being discarded on the street (along with gloves) so it’s a new rather large source of litter and they are showing up in the Mediterranean. Not all positive, therefore. Does that happen in Korea or China, where you’ve been? I’m wondering if some of the differences between countries is to do with customs and diet, rather than just what the government mandates. After all, greeting someone by bowing at a distance is going to be lower-risk than a bizou (kiss on both cheeks).

        Something for Willis – according to the French news the Solomon Islands (and another 5 similarly-isolated countries) are so far free of Covid-19.


  2. Willis Eschenbach, I really enjoy your essays. Thanks for doing them.

    I have wondered since I first thought about this issue whether the main benefit of masks might be that masks are really awkward to wear if you are coughing or sneezing. They are so uncomfortable in other words, that if you are in a context where you are expected to wear them, then you are much more likely to just stay home.

    The most obvious downside of masks is the damage to human communication, since it makes reading facial expressions so difficult. The cost of this may be much greater than is at first apparent.


  3. By virtue of observing mask wearers, I estimate about 1% actually wear them correctly (inbound vacuum cleaner effectively for most on the perimeters) and less than 1% actually use a mask (N95 or better) that can actually help filter contaminents inward or outward. I tried one of my N95 masks and could not wear it for any prolonged perid of time if actively breathing, once. Even so, It seemed like I had a blowhole or air geyser up my forehead when exhaling. Just sayin

    Then there are those pecky facts that seem to be ever increasing my skepticism of this whole thing.


    Additional data resource I stumbled across today if interested.



  4. Willis –

    Why did you delete my comments where I quoted you advising people to wears masks, and telling us that Japan’s low death rate was because of mask-wearing?


    • Tired of your bullshit, bro’ … I didn’t even begin to read it, just deleted it. Was it fascinating and interesting?

      In any case, yes, at one time I thought wearing a mask was a good idea. Now I’ve seen more and learned more. When the facts change I change my mind … what do you do?

      And why is this somehow worth discussing? Now that I know what was in it I’m even more glad I deleted it. I look forwards. You look backwards, sideways, any way but forwards. As I asked of you, please go bother someone else.



  5. And Willis –

    > Just to clarify, I’m not on either Team Mask or Team No-Mask … I’m just taking a wider look at the science

    As I quoted you, before you deleted it, you were solidly in the mask-wearing team just a short while back.

    Does this mean that you were wrong before when you advised mask-wearing?

    How did that happen? Maybe you didn’t know anything about the topic when you first offered your advice?


  6. Here is what you’ve said before. Don’t you stand by what you say?


    The one virus health practice that distinguishes Japan from most of the world is that they all wear masks in public. Even the liberal US news media is noticing the effectiveness of masks—a CNN story is headlined “Face masks and coronavirus: Asia may have been right and the rest of the world is coming around” … seems the US specialists were wrong again. Go figure.

    A mask cuts transmission down in two ways. First, it keeps you from touching your mouth or nose. This both protects you until you can wash your hands, and if you are infected it keeps you from spreading the virus onto hard surfaces to infect others.

    Next, it keeps you from sneezing or coughing a billion virus particles into the air. It’s less effective at preventing you from inhaling such particles, although it helps with that as well. And it is that sneezing and coughing that is the major way that the virus is spread.

    And overall, as Japan is showing us, wearing a mask cuts the transmission rate way down.


    > Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, no making merry with naked pangolins, wear a mask, stay well dear friends,


    >> And of course continue to follow the usual precautions—wash your hands; wear a mask at normal functions and not, as in your past, just at bank robberies;


    >>> Protect the most vulnerable, quarantine the sick rather than the healthy, wash your hands (particularly after handling pangolins), wear masks, in social situations stay six feet (2 m) away from bats, and let’s move forward no matter what our self-proclaimed overlords have to say about the matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you truly so stupid that you don’t change your mind? When the facts change, I change my mind … SO FREAKIN’ WHAT! What kind of nasty point are to trying to convert this into?

      Look, I have restrained my impulse to ban you and your ugly ways forever. I haven’t done so, because foolish me, I thought that at some time you might possibly actually contribute something to the conversation other than your nasty pointless attacks … but you are sure making me reconsider. I’ve asked you politely to go bother someone else. Please do.



      • Joshua, if you want to actually CONTRIBUTE TO THE DISCUSSION, rather than standing on tiptoe to try to bite my ankles, please do so. I will continue to delete your deranged attacks on me. This is my blog, and I didn’t spend hundreds of hours creating it so that jerkwagons like you could disparage anything and everything I do.



        • Willis –

          Why are you so sensitive?

          I’ve already explained, and Steven has tried to explain …

          Joshua, talk about the science or get your bullshIt snipped. It’s not really all that hard to understand.



  7. I use the same 3M N95 masks I use doing work around mold/dust/bat poo/bird poo/mouse poo, ya know, all the crap that builds up in attics and ceilings and basement overheads and crawl spaces etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!(dramatic hand motions and regal stance inferred) If they are good enough to keep me from getting sick from that they work fine for making other people “feel” safe about the damned flu. Excuse my inconsideration! Chinese Disease, thank you very much.


    • I’ve almost never used a mask doing work around mold/dust/bat poo/bird poo/mouse poo, ya know, all the crap that builds up in attics and ceilings and basement overheads and crawl spaces etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! (dramatic hand motions and regal stance inferred). Never got sick from it either.

      And when I do wear a mask, I wear a proper canister-type respirator, and my motto is “If I can smell anything, the mask isn’t doing its job”.



      • It is all about making people “feel” safe, so thats all it really does. As for mold et al, yes, I always use 3M N95 mask when working around such and have never had any problems, been around such without mask and had problems. Working around asbestos I use full face respirator system, MSA currently although I have not messed with asbestos in a few years.


  8. Quick search returns:
    “Viruses are much smaller than the cells they infect. Indeed, it was their remarkable smallness that led to their discovery in the first place. Researchers were puzzled by remnant infectious elements that could pass through filters small enough to remove pathogenic bacterial cells. This led to the hypothesis of a new form of biological entity. These entities were subsequently identified as viruses.”

    Which leads to filter sizes:
    Depending on regulatory requirements, one needs to consider if the process requires retrovirus clearance, or retrovirus and parvovirus removal. Virus clearance filters are broadly classified into two categories:
    Filters that provide >4 or >6 log10 removal of large viruses, typically 80–100 nm endogenous retroviruses.
    Filters that provide >4 log10 removal of small and large viruses (larger than 18–24 nm parvoviruses).

    Just keep your immune system up to par (yep, eat anything and everything within reason), and maybe load up on vitamin D.
    Then just tell the virus “take your best shot”.


  9. Hey, if a mask is my pass into the liquor store or grocery store with no ‘Karens’ whining and yelling at me then I’m donning one – I can get with the program despite the program being silly


  10. Team mask or no mask?

    So probably best to start with the actual virus and this very cool experiement


    Next, take Notice that in NY.

    Public facing employees ( EMT, Police, Transit workers, Health care )
    A) wear masks
    B) without exception have lower rates of infection.

    Next you write

    ‘Then we have a very important study in the Annuals of Internal Medicine, April 2020:”

    You mean this joke?

    Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking SARS–CoV-2: A Controlled Comparison in 4 Patients

    JOKE I’m betting very few here would put faith in a study that showed effectiveness using only 4 patients.

    ” Patients were instructed to cough 5 times each onto a petri dish while wearing the following sequence of masks: no mask, surgical mask, cotton mask, and again with no mask. A separate petri dish was used for each of the 5 coughing episodes.”

    “This experiment did not include N95 masks and does not reflect the actual transmission of infection from patients with COVID-19 wearing different types of masks. We do not know whether masks shorten the travel distance of droplets during coughing. Further study is needed to recommend whether face masks decrease transmission of virus from asymptomatic individuals or those with suspected COVID-19 who are not coughing.”

    cough 5 times? How deeply? repeatable?

    lets quote their words again

    “”This experiment did not include N95 masks and does not reflect the actual transmission of infection from patients with COVID-19 wearing different types of masks. We do not know whether masks shorten the travel distance of droplets during coughing. Further study is needed to recommend whether face masks decrease transmission of virus from asymptomatic individuals or those with suspected COVID-19 who are not coughing.”

    what matters in transmission. Like I have been telling you guys for MONTHS


    All you have to do is look at the floor maps of the office in Korea, the dinner table in Guangdong, the choir practice in Washington, the fitness gym in South Korea and see the following.


    of course when you fly into Hong Kong they collect seat maps of all the folks flying and they publish it.
    And if you sit within 2 rows of an infected person you get tested.

    wonder why?


  11. Mosher, transmission to the populous is the key in the end (herd it). Protect the vulnerable.

    Every country still follows the same path as shown over 2 months ago. Just take “time” out of the equation. It still happens, every time, the same way from my shoes. Lockdowns just extend things.


    • “Mosher, transmission to the populous is the key in the end (herd it). Protect the vulnerable.”

      I’ve been in China and Korea since 2017. I have no idea what you are talking about when you say
      Lockdowns dont work.

      Lockdown POLICY is one thing, a population who can follow instructions is another. Lockdown ACTIONS
      work. basic physics.

      Protect the vulnerable?

      Early on in Korea it was recognized that Senior care facilities were a source of clusters.
      and they got on it. took a month, but they quickly stamped the fires out.


      in China? multigenerational living. when I mention old folks homes to them they look at me in disbelief

      The US and UK?

      Protect the vulnerable? nice words, nice idea, works on paper…….

      but…you cant do it, screwups.


      oh, Korea had a burst of cases from Nightclubs. Now you have to sign into a nightclub with your state ID.

      Why? because the young cannot be trusted to protect the old? why? Example. on a recent cruise to Antarctica the ship came down with COVID.

      81% of the positive cases had no symptoms. vector of death.

      Of course if you tell young people to protect the vulnerable and they dont know they are sick, about half of them will forget.


      • Steven, perhaps I was a bit vague with my comment. I believe those who are at high risk of mortality from this virus should be the ones locked down. All nursing home type facilities, all those with comorbidities that put them at higher risk, should be the ones who were locked down until we have a effective treatment or vaccine. The CFR statistics that are coming out are quite astonishing when put in perspective. Additionally, I believe the CDC just updated their IFR down to .26% from the originally adopted 3.4% (WHO). That will probably continue to move downward.

        When you lock down the healthy for extended periods of time, you effectively put them at higher risk (of illness in general) by virtue of lessening their immune systems strength due to lack of normal daily exposures. Letting alone the impact of an extended lockdown on economies, mental health, and welfare.

        Upon reanalysis of this entire event, we may find the damage done from actions taken to be far greater than anticipated. JMHO >


        • “When you lock down the healthy for extended periods of time, you effectively put them at higher risk (of illness in general) by virtue of lessening their immune systems strength due to lack of normal daily exposures. Letting alone the impact of an extended lockdown on economies, mental health, and welfare.”

          1. you dont know who is healthy.
          2. you dont know who is vulnerable, you have risk ratios, thats it. vulnerability is not BINARY.
          3. you’re speculating about the immune system. stop doing that.

          Do lockdowns work? Ask new zeeland.

          But to work you actually have to IMPOSE THEM. when you do, you get to zero. When you announce lame lockdowns, when people dont follow lockdowns, then of course you hurt

          1. The emotional well being of people.
          2. The health of people
          3. the economic well being.

          It was predictable that USA would try to engineer their way out of this with half measures.
          meanwhile, HK drove it to zero. new Zealand Zero, Vietnam Zero.

          Guess what? NOBODY in Korea debates CFR or IFRs or tried to do calculus of death.
          No mention of models, or rush to do serology before the time and test is ready.
          No stupid people running around mis using flu estimates as if they were real numbers.
          No arm chair mathematicians inventing their own models.
          None of that. No stupid arguments that there is any number of deaths that is acceptable.
          It’s all about getting the cases to zero. we know there will be deaths, and we know any positive number is unacceptable in principle. So the focus is reducing the cases, because the public cant do anything about the deaths.
          That’s in doctors hands and the grim reapers hands. your job?

          1. wear a mask
          2. Wash your hands
          3. Clean surfaces
          4. Avoid sweaty piles of people
          5. Keep your distance.
          6. Listen to civil defense.

          Do that shit. its not rocket science.

          I write to you from quarantine in Korea. 2 more days and I am released. tested probed and cleared.
          Of course some idiots try to escape quarantine. The fine is pretty steep and I’m not going to risk
          deportation. They don’t fuck around. That earns some respect.

          anyway, folks can continue to dream up great approaches where you go out and find out who is more vulnerable and try to protect them. That would be a cluster fuck.

          hey Tubby! you have a high BMI and Low Vitamin D and High D dimer. Locking you up.
          that’s probably more unworkable than a stringent lockdown.


          • “Do lockdowns work? Ask new zeeland.” – Until they reopen. What is the plan then? Everyone going to NZ gets quarantined for 14 days?

            Only #2 and #4 on your list have any proof to back them. Wash hands and avoid large (50+) crowds.


          • A tiny, ocean locked country which can 100% seal itself off from the rest of the world proves a tiny, ocean locked can seal itself off. And once they start interacting with the rest of the world they will get sick, not just from Chinese Disease, from all other infectious ailments which constantly flow back&forth in active human populations. Quarantining and suppressing the immune systems of healthy people is the wrong answer as small, self isolated populations are going to learn. I wonder who they will blame for their country being turned into a petri dish experiment.


          • “Ask new zeeland.”

            Sure ask New Zealand. Last week we sent documents by first class airmail to NZ. They came back with a Canada Post sticker: Return to Sender. Temporary suspension of postal service.

            Yes it was a successful lockdown, but what about needing a part for a machine in a hurry to keep a power station or dairy farm operating??? We got a part by air for a 30 Y/O marine diesel in 48h from some place in Virginia to Canada. If you think a mechanised economy can keep running without any air service, you are out of your mind. NZ is now what it is in India, where the problem is that your part is held by customs for an indefinite period unless appropriate cash was handed out.


        • “One of Havlir’s motivations for the testing was to understand how the virus was being transmitted even after the city had been locked down for six weeks. Questionnaires administered with the tests gave her an answer: 90% of those who tested positive could not work from home. Most were low-income, and most lived in households with three or more people.

          “What really comes out of these data is that low-wage essential workers are victims of this disease,” Havlir said. Many of those infected were working in food service, making deliveries, or cleaning offices despite shutdown orders. “These people were out working the entire time,” she said.”

          Mission district.

          “While Havlir expected to see the Latinx community hit hard by the virus, the actual numbers came as a shock. About 2% of people tested positive for the coronavirus. Nearly all of them — 95% — were Latinx. The other 5% were Asian or Pacific Islander. Not a single white person tested positive, though 34% of the tract’s residents are white, according to the U.S. Census; 58% are Hispanic.”

          Same thing in the bay area.


          • Here in Florida, they started testing before entry into such facilities a while ago upon the known vulnerabilities of the exposed. It was finally understood the vector of transmission came from visitors or employees. In my county, many died from a few asymptomatic transferrer’s (employees) early on. Superspreaders if you will. That dropped, with testing before entry.

            It is visible here if you dig a bit. With nearly a million tested here, the numbers are a bit varied due to, I believe, antibody testing being included in the infection numbers. We should be at 17 million tested in the US by EOD today, and around 2 million a week moving forward.

            The good news is the numbers are catching up. The closed case CFR for actual documented cases globally has dropped from 21% to 12% over the last 4-5 weeks. The % of symptomatic testing remains at 98% none or little and 2% serious on documented cases. The infection rate will be many X of the documented cases, to the tune of up to 85x based on some of the studies done across the globe. Pick it apart as you want, but the lockdown is and was not justified with other effective protocols that were available.


            Liked by 1 person

          • Funny how places run exclusively by leftists have the worst problems with this flu. Almost as if they are totally ignorant of reality and completely incompetent.


    • It took awhile but I looked for and found an updated and current plot of this.

      See https://aatishb.com/covidtrends/?scale=linear&data=deaths

      and then select Reported Deaths.

      The only problem and I think it’s a big problem is that they don’t report deaths per million and that makes it appear that all small countries are doing well, and the United States, since it is the largest country in the data set, is doing badly.

      Now China is a larger country than the US, but they are not including it the current plots. But if they did and they plotted deaths per million it would be down there near the origin and it would look like China did miraculously well, which might lead to a bit of suspicion on the part of, I think, most observers.


  12. In February and March masks may have made a difference, but we were told to not wear them. Today, wearing a mask is a bit like requiring condoms at the baby shower. But today masks are the height of virtue signaling. Masks are the definition of the difference between proactive and reactive.


    • On Jan 22nd my company in beijing started handing out masks. The hotel did too.

      Of course I went out and bought a shit load of N95.

      its like you people never heard of SARS and MERS. FFS

      “Today, wearing a mask is a bit like requiring condoms at the baby shower. ”

      weird, we have very few cases in Korea. I wear my mask. 98% of other people wear their masks.
      the grocery store has hand sanitizer, restaurants do to. so does my apartment elevator.
      when you get off a plane here they take your temperature. Every day they catch 3-4 people flying with fevers.
      and another 3-4 daily in the quarantine of travelers.

      This is not rocket science.


      • Your boy Fauci is now publicly saying masks don’t help the general public. Perhaps you should get your stories straight.


    • From yesterday, BC Ferries requires that you carry a mask to board – not wear a mask. I gather it is in case you are mustered in an emergency, you have to wear it. I can just see people in life jackets being denied entry to the lifeboat because they forgot the mask in the car when the alarm went off.


  13. Having had to damp cloth my computer screen a number of times after accidentally sneezing on it, and NOT having to when I covered up in time with a kleenex, plus observing the number of people in crowds who sneeze and cough, I’m sure a mask reduces contaminated surfaces significantly.


  14. More evidence suggesting why masks might work if tbey only reduce particle transmission – which could lead to milder cases from lower viral load:


    > A new study has revealed that more than 80 percent of passengers and crew members on a cruise ship that contracted COVID-19 were asymptomatic.


    > The first fever was on the eighth day of the trip and isolation protocols started immediately, with all passengers confined to their cabins and everyone was issued surgical masks. Personal protective equipment was also worn by anyone who came in contact with passengers.



  15. Here.


    “Another clear trait of the successful responses against COVID-19 is that they’ve all been “apolitical.” The efforts haven’t been framed as coming from one political party or another but rather as efforts for the good of everyone.

    The successful Asian countries had national plans, and the leaders articulated them to their people.

    “If you look at like Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam or maybe even Hong Kong,” Shin says. “The message from the central government was very clear, very straightforward, very coherent and, I think, very effective.”

    One thing I noticed early on in Korea was that fighting the virus was NOT POLITICAL.
    hell there was even a national election held during the mess.

    Every day the country was briefed with the facts.
    by an expert.
    When one expert fucked up and coughed into his open hand on TV ( as opposed to his elbow)
    Boom. he was gone. Publically shamed and removed.

    No politicians speaking. Nobody with an agenda beyond public health.
    Zero second guessing the public health experts.
    No mixed messages. No debates about president moon wearing a mask.

    Every day at noon the nation heard.
    1. We dont have enough masks for everyone, so purchases are limited to 2 per week.
    2. instructions on how to wash your hands ( PSA upon PSA)
    3. the numbers for the day. In detail.
    4. the ROUTES OF TRANSMISSION: Gyms, hospitals, etc.
    5. Encouragement to get fresh air, get some sun, and keep your distance.



  16. Steven Mosher May 28, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    “The successful Asian countries had national plans, and the leaders articulated them to their people.”
    Yep, from recent, direct, first hand experience of such. They been there and done that already Mosher.

    Statistically, the US has had worse experiences proportionately from the past, but the US never closed down the country and quarantined the healthy. Just sayin, the pain and loss from this will exceed the results from the actions initiated through bad modeling.

    Bad modeling (human coded opinions) is exactly that, no matter the avenue it is used in. It remains bad, and proven as such in this case again.

    Kind of like ECS modeling. 🙂


  17. Getting into this discussion rather late, but my main issue with wearing masks is the psychological scare impact that they have. If they served a real purpose – such as surgical masks for healthcare professionals dressing open wounds – then this would be acceptable, but the “can’t do any harm” approach to wearing masks in the street is just feeding the scare.

    Norway’s Prime Minister has announced publicly that she was wrong to close the schools in Norway and that it was done because of the fear and panic that was being spread much faster than the virus itself. I applaud her honesty and although I don’t remember whether the fear in Norway was driven by the media as it clearly was in the UK, Canada and the US the spreading of fear and panic is the one thing our current media as very good at. Perhaps the only thing.

    Any policy – be it compulsory mask wearing or treatment with hydroxy-chloroquine – should be considered with regard to benefits and costs and those costs have to include the side-effects both physiological and psychological. Measurable benefits of wearing masks are only seen in transmission between people in prolonged close proximity and the recommendations in most jurisdictions are just that – wear masks when you are in prolonged close proximity with other people.

    I am personally against the over-reaction to a disease which I consider to be very little (if at all) more dangerous than a regular novel influenza strain, but I follow the recommendations in the jurisdiction where I live. My feeling is the the pro-/anti- mask issue is another example where the – mostly – considered responses have been exaggerated by people using this as ammunition in a greater war.


  18. meta study

    Click to access PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9.pdf

    We did a systematic review of 172 observational studies in
    health-care and non-health-care settings across 16 countries and
    six continents; 44 comparative studies were included in a
    meta-analysis, including 25697 patients with COVID-19, SARS,
    or MERS. Our findings are, to the best of our knowledge, the first
    to rapidly synthesise all direct information on COVID-19 and,
    therefore, provide the best available evidence to inform optimum
    use of three common and simple interventions to help reduce the
    rate of infection and inform non-pharmaceutical interventions,
    including pandemic mitigation in non-health-care settings.
    Physical distancing of 1 m or more was associated with a much
    lower risk of infection, as was use of face masks (including
    N95 respirators or similar and surgical or similar masks
    [eg, 12–16-layer cotton or gauze masks]) and eye protection
    (eg, goggles or face shields). Added benefits are likely with even
    larger physical distances (eg, 2 m or more based on modelling)
    and might be present with N95 or similar respirators versus
    medical masks or similar

    In view of inconsistent guidelines by various organisations
    based on limited information, our findings provide some
    clarification and have implications for multiple stakeholders.
    The risk for infection is highly dependent on distance to the
    individual infected and the type of face mask and eye
    protection worn. From a policy and public health perspective,
    current policies of at least 1 m physical distancing seem to be
    strongly associated with a large protective effect, and distances
    of 2 m could be more effective. These data could also facilitate
    harmonisation of the definition of exposed (eg, within 2 m),
    which has implications for contact tracing. The quantitative
    estimates provided here should inform disease-modelling
    studies, which are important for planning pandemic response
    efforts. Policy makers around the world should strive to
    promptly and adequately address equity implications for
    groups with currently limited access to face masks and eye
    protection. For health-care workers and administrators,
    our findings suggest that N95 respirators might be more
    strongly associated with protection from viral transmission
    than surgical masks. Both N95 and surgical masks have a
    stronger association with protection compared with
    single-layer masks. Eye protection might also add substantial
    protection. For the general public, evidence shows that physical
    distancing of more than 1 m is highly effective and that face
    masks are associated with protection, even in non-health-care
    settings, with either disposable surgical masks or reusable
    12–16-layer cotton ones, although much of this evidence was
    on mask use within households and among contacts of cases.
    Eye protection is typically underconsidered and can be effective
    in community settings. However, no intervention, even when
    properly used, was associated with complete protection from
    infection. Other basic measures (eg, hand hygiene) are still
    needed in addition to physical distancing and use of face masks
    and eye protection.


  19. Willis: Over at WUWT your recent posting (2020-06-01) for the “Daily Data Graph Page” says:

    “People have been saying that we can use what are called “excess deaths” to see how many corona deaths have occurred. The Financial Telegraph just put out the first dataset of excess deaths.”

    I went to the github link for it and downloaded the CSV file. For the USA they are missing these states:


    I’ve contacted them but given the timezone diff it might be a while.


    • Of course it pasted wrong from Linux to here so let’s try try again.

      Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New_Hampshire, New_Mexico, North_Carolina, North_Dakota, Ohio,Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode_Island, South_Carolina, South_Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West_Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

      So 41 missing states from their USA collection. Note: The CDC data as it has New York City listed separately from New York state and DC so there should be 52.

      The 11 present are: Colorado, District_of_Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New_Jersey, New_York, New_York_City, Washington

      The data is available for all states with only week 16 missing from North Carolina so I have no idea why they have chosen just those 11.


      • LOL. So true, so very true. Just when you need accurate, consistently derived data the most we get stuck with a hodgepodge of testing methods, definitions of death “with/from”. Sigh.

        “Onward through the fog” as they used to say.


  20. At last North Carolina has been updated to include week 16 so it looks almost complete. There will be more updates due to late reporting and other issues with the states and the CDC but they are minor at this point.

    As of the 2020-06-05 data from the CDC for weeks 1 to 16 in 2020 all states are listed as complete although more updates to the data will happen. I’ll re-run this again when they update the states that are not at 100% yet.

    For 2020 the USA has an “excess death” rate about 6.6% (60,607) higher than the previous 4 year average for weeks 1 to 16. As a comparison I checked the first 16 weeks of 2018 compared to the previous 4 year average and it was 7.2% (63,260).

    The script and all related files are here if you want to kick the tires:

    Also at the dropbox is the first run at weeks 1 to 21 and it shows 6.8% but a combined 8 weeks are still missing due to “Incomplete Data” (Connecticut=3; North Carolina=4; West Virginia=1). Consider it preliminary.


  21. sweden

    watch it all

    some people thing cases dont matter.

    ‘Yeah, I know, I didn’t post for two days. So sue me, I was getting tired of fighting the good fight and people responding with “but muh cases!
    Folks, cases are MEANINGLESS. Double the testing and you’ll double the cases. Halve the testing and … well, you do the math.


    Sweden cases : 53,000 tests 325,000 tests per Million 32,189
    denmark cases 12200, tests 823,249 tests per Million 142,151

    Folks, cases are NOT MEANINGLESS. Double the testing and you’ll NOT double the cases.

    Norway cases 8,655 tests 285,867 test per Million 52,748
    Finland cases 7,112 tests 222,500 tests per million 40,160

    deaths is your worst metric. Listen to how the murdered patients.


    • Seriously? You’re gonna point to different numbers of tests in different countries as evidence that the number of tests doesn’t matter????

      Seeing that, my advice would be to stop drunk-blogging, but I fear you’re sober.

      Folks, anyone in danger of being convinced by Steven’s ludicrous claim that testing is immaterial to the number of cases, consider what would happen to the number of cases if testing went to zero … yep, you’re right.

      In fact, I demonstrated quite clearly that THE NUMBER OF CASES IS A LINEAR FUNCTION OF THE NUMBER OF TESTS. Here’s a graph showing that quite clearly.

      SOURCE: Of Tests And Confirmed Cases

      And guess what?

      Since cases are a simple linear function of the number of tests, if you double the number of tests, you’ll double the number of cases … which will indeed be meaningless.

      Instead, the number to watch is the percentage of positive tests, and even that’s not all that good a metric because it depends on WHO is getting tested, which changes over time.

      My advice? Ignore the man behind the curtain, he’s suffering from the delusion that he’s the Wizard of Oz …



    • Yeah –

      I didn’t think it could happen, but now I think it’s starting to look like Sweden may eventually have more per capita deaths than Italy (they already passed France).

      Lots of reasons why that may be the case – not likely simply a product of the policies in government mandated shelter in place orders. Seems that they have a rather casual attitudes towards treating infected older people which is certainly a contributing factor.

      But, folks may want to start backing away from the idea that Sweden should be a model for the U.S.

      Especially if a vaccine is distributed on a moderately fast time table.


    • KCDC, Korean CDC which tracks down clusters has found that high risk facilities that
      have had cluster did not wear masks. Where masks were worn, there were no clusters.


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