July 20th, 2024

Science shows the benefits of masks

By Letter to the Editor on July 10, 2021.

In response to Mr Baiton’s Letter to the Editor of July 7, entitled “Mask mandates sparked by fear, not science” I presume he is referring to a review article published by authors at the Chicago School of Public Health in July of 2020. That is a year ago and shortly after the pandemic really took off. On July 16, 2020, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota published the following in regards to that article: “The authors and CIDRAP have received requests in recent weeks to remove this article from the CIDRAP website. Reasons have included: (1) we don’t truly know that cloth masks (face coverings) are not effective, since the data are so limited, (2) wearing a cloth mask or face covering is better than doing nothing, (3) the article is being used by individuals and groups to support non-mask wearing where mandated and (4) there are now many modelling studies suggesting that cloth masks or face coverings could be effective at flattening the curve and preventing many cases of infection.” Again, this was still a year ago. Much data has been collected and analyzed since then. For instance, in a peer reviewed scientific publication by J. Howard and associates at the University of San Francisco published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United Stated of America (PNAS January 26, 2021 118 (4) e2014564118; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2014564118 they conclude:
“The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high. Given the current shortages of medical masks, we recommend the adoption of public cloth mask wearing, as an effective form of source control, in conjunction with existing hygiene, distancing, and contact tracing strategies. ….. We recommend that public officials and governments strongly encourage the use of widespread face masks in public, including the use of appropriate regulation.”
For those interested, there are numerous other peer reviewed scientific articles that can be found by using Google Scholar.
Just by searching “COVID face masks” Google Scholar provided 2,500 peer reviewed articles published since 2020 to peruse. This is science, not fear!
Mark Goettel

Share this story:

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John P Nightingale

Three further observations:
Baiton states “For confirmation of this you may refer to a recent review of the scientific literature on the matter by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health – which is but one of many studies undertaken that confirm the same.” A 16 MONTH OLD REVIEW OF A RAPIDLY EVOLVING SCIENTIFIC CIRCUMSTANCE IS “RECENT“?
As Goettel has mentioned, Baiton ignored the notation added to the article’s original wording that the authors and CIDRAP (Centre for Infectious Disease and Research Policy) “have received requests in recent weeks to remove this article from the website.” Multiple reasons were cited which you can find on their site.
The article for the most part, was concerned with cloth masks. Their conclusion re these are not in question.
By all means search and form opinions but opinions based on outdated modelling and content to suit an opinion, is not useful. When that article was written , the pandemic was barely 3 months old. Much has changed.

Dennis Bremner

I love it when people quote “science” as if there is defined parameters justifying conclusions but do not include those parameters. The science would also indicate that if you wore an enclosed breathing system that there would be a further reduced chance of exposure.
Science tends to leave out the parameters under which it tested the rather broad term “Mask”. Then as does the author of this article, it leaves out whom the “Mask” is protecting.
Without actually looking at the content of these 2500 peer reviewed articles what you get is the impressive number of 2500, standing on its own, as if “Science” has determined a Mask is successful at stopping or lowering transmission of COVID. One parameter that cancels all others his “High Compliance”. Which means that the studies are only good if everyone is wearing a mask. Which means if 80% of people are wearing a mask the entire “study” and its findings are USELESS.
As a comparison (my favorite bit of science) the “Rehab system for Drug Addicts” is successful. Successful compared to what? Nothing? That’s pretty “easy science”. The author uses the same comparator…Nothing.
So, Masks are “better than Nothing”? That’s “Science”? I thought that was obvious? If I sneeze into a mask, I am decelerating particles that would have normally been allowed to accelerate without the mask. I don’t need 2500 peer reviewed studies to determine that.
What is needed is “What is a Mask”. The author includes recommendation of Cloth Masks, which of course is not a Mask? What exactly is a Mask? There appears to be no definition other than the Global Term meaning which is anything that covers your face.
So, now we know that “Anything” can include cloth. Where is the science in that? Science is measuring effectiveness and not using Nothing as the comparator, because Nothing is not a valid comparator unless you wish to use the “something is better than nothing”! But that gets you back to “what is something”, what is a mask?
So, if I walk into Home Depot and someone is approaching me with a small sheet of Plywood suspended in front of their face with two cutout eye sockets. Is that a Mask? Would Science say, Plywood is better than Nothing?
I don’t need science to tell me Plywood is better than nothing. Because I know anything and I mean anything is better than Nothing, which again, is not a valid comparator. So if a woman approaches me with her Yorkshire Terrier strapped to her face, should I feel “safe” because “something is better than nothing? Does a Yorkshire Terrier, qualify under the Term “Mask” in this situation? Is a Yorkshire Terrier better than nothing?
Do you know what Science isn’t saying? What Science is not saying is what is the measure of “Better than Nothing”. We already know that you wear a little blue mask to protect others, not yourself. The little blue mask has an overall efficiency rating of 2%, which means instead of 100% chance of receiving COVID particles you now have a 98% chance of receiving COVID particles. Which is better than “Nothing” but I would suggest Plywood works as well because “Something is better than Nothing”. Thank God for Science!
Anytime you saw a Health Care worker wearing a little blue mask, there was a plexiglass partition between you and that worker. I am sure in some wards of the hospital where there was no COVID, workers/nurses wore the little blue mask. But, like always, if someone came into that ward and had COVID the healthcare worker got it too, Why? Little blue mask!
So, lets walk into Home Depot and we are wearing a Blue Mask, you approach a non mask wearer. He sneezes, now aren’t you just thrilled to death that you are wearing a 2% mask? I love Science, especially when Science does not tell you to stop wearing the stupid inefficient blue mask and get one that protects YOU because neither Science or the Health System cares if YOU are protected or not. Its why the Health System repeated endlessly you should wear a mask to “Protect others” so, they have been telling you from the getgo it was never designed to protect you. It was designed so if you HAD COVID, you would reduce the chance of spreading to others. But at no time did they tell you how to protect YOU from GETTING COVID with your 2% mask!
So forget the 2500 peer reviewed Articles, get yourself an N95 or K95 Mask to protect YOU because the Anti-maskers of Alberta, really do not care to wear a mask and you don’t need Science for that either.
I can’t wait for “Science and the Legal System” to realize that we were handed a bill of goods on Mask wearing. We were handed a mask with one intent only, protect the health care system. You foolishly thought they were handing you a mask to protect you….that’s where the lawsuit comes in. No one was protecting YOU, not even you!
Declaration- I wear a mask K95, because I want a 95% chance of not getting COVID.
A K95, an N95 is a “Mask”, just ask the healthcare workers if the little blue one is? Then follow their explanation how it is a mask because “something is better than nothing”! Then ask any Health Care worker if they would walk into a COVID ward, spend an hour there with a “little blue mask”? Yet, it is known that COVID is airborne in micro particles 20-200 nanometers which blue masks will not stop (that is, just in case you did not notice, actual “science”). So, we are being asked to walk into a COVID cough area, with a “mask” that has NO ability to stop COVID particles on the basis of “something is better than nothing”? And, ladies and Gentleman, that’s Science?
What saved YOU, was staying 6 feet or more from other people and washing your hands, not the plywood, not the Yorkshire Terrier or the little Blue Mask!

Last edited 3 years ago by Dennis Bremner
Dennis Bremner

You have to identify from what position the science is based. Cloth masks work protecting the health care system. Cloth masks do not protect the user. If you read the studies and their purpose you will find the science is based on an assumption, that is, “does it protect the Health Care System”. If you or others argue the point it protects the “System” I would agree. If you are brainwashed into assuming that study or any other study suggests it protects “you” more than 2% then you are not reading the study correctly. That is my point.
Ergo, if the health care system is no longer in crisis, which it is not, then masks are a security blanket, but not much else. Wear them if you like but understand they do not protect the user, unless a K/N95

Last edited 3 years ago by Dennis Bremner

what i do know – and, perhaps just a coincidence – is that since i have begun using the little blue mask, i have not to my knowledge had covid, nor a cold, nor the flu. it is the longest stretch in my life that i have been cold/flu free…over 18 months.

Dennis Bremner

6 feet distance and washing hands.


not enough – there is now evidence that the covid globs can hang in the air for long periods. something is working: either it is the nearly useless blue masks, or god, or quite a run of damn good luck. either way, i am sticking with what has brung me this far.

Dennis Bremner

That evidence is over a year old and its what I have been saying in all my responses. What saved you was 6 feet, washing hands and lockdowns because the little blue mask was a mental reminder for you to do both, and when it did not work, lockdown did.
Whether you realize it or not, you adjusted the way you did things. You assessed situations sub consciously for risk and then if risky ie. 12 people in one aisle, you chose a different route.
Want proof, I do not know you biff, but all you have to do is have someone cough in Walmart and watch the number of people that suddenly look at the person as if they are a walking COVID Fungus.
We have all changed.


there is still, after so much time, too little that is truly definitive. i appreciate the coughing reference, as there is likely more sensitivity now, but, to be honest, i have always been wary when someone coughs or even sneezes…and disgusted by how many still do not make any effort to cover.
i am greatly concerned by the grooming that has been underway to all but legislate mandatory vaxes (that may come), with restrictions on the right to work without them, to travel without them, to go into public spaces without them…all encouraged by the likes of idiots now referring to those unvaxed by choice as “antisocial”, “reckless”, “threats”, “dangerous”, “selfish”. although never properly approached in the courts, drug laws are illegal and a crime against humanity: it is ridiculous that a society that considers itself free can legislate against what people choose to ingest. yet, now, we have coming to roost another serious invasion upon one’s right to be the sole arbiter of their body: coercive actions that effectively force one to ingest substances they do not wish to ingest.