Study Finds That Cloth Masks Can Increase Healthcare Workers Risk of Infection
Published on May 15, 2020 By Arjun Walia
The Facts: A study published in 2015 found that cloth masks can increase healthcare workers risk of infection. It also called into question the efficacy of medical masks.
Reflect On: If masks may not protect healthcare workers in an acute setting, what are they doing for the public? Are the decisions made by health regulatory agencies always in the best interest of the public?
A lot of places are mandating that people wear a mask. Some grocery stores here in Canada are making it mandatory for people who want to do some shopping, and Los Angeles County recently mandated that all people must wear a mask when going outside. But do these measures really help? We are living in strange times when people like Bill Gates are getting a lot of T.V. time, as he seems to be the world’s leading ‘health’ authority on the new coronavirus, what we should do, and how we’re going to stop it. On the other hand, there are several doctors and leading epidemiologists around the world who have been studying viruses for decades that have been censored from social media platforms for sharing their research and opinions. Their interviews are being taken down, and some have even been flagged as ‘fake.’ Ask yourself, what’s wrong with this picture? Many of them are suggesting that the new coronavirus is not nearly as dangerous as it’s being made out to be. There have been multiple studies that have also suggested this based on the data that researchers have accumulated. Mainstream media is trying really hard to shape our perception with regards to everything that surrounds the new coronavirus, from treatment, lockdowns, to social distancing and much more.
We’ve covered a few examples of these experts giving their opinions with regards to how dangerous this virus actually is, what the solution is, treatments and more. If you’re interested you can refer to the articles linked at the bottom of this one. At the end of the day, a lot of what these doctors, scientists and epidemiologists have been saying since the beginning of this outbreak, up until now, has completely contradicted the narrative of federal health regulatory agencies and the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, social media and other platforms are banning content that opposes and contradicts the WHO, no matter how much evidence is behind the information, or even if the sources are some of the leading experts in the world.
Should there be a digital authoritarian Orwellian ‘fact checker’ going around the internet telling people what is, and what isn’t? Or should people have the right to examine information, check sources and evidence and ultimately decide for themselves?
So the question is, can we really trust these health authorities to guide us into doing what’s really best for us? Is this really about our health or is something else going on here? Are there powerful people profiting off of this both politically and financially? Was Edward Snowden correct when he said that the new coronavirus fiasco is no different from 9/11, in that it’s simply being used to push more authoritarian measures on the population? Just like they remained after 9/11, will they remain after this coronavirus? Why are there apps tracking people for coronavirus, but not for the pedophiles, murderers and rapists? These are important things to think about.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there and again, if you’re interested in going a little deeper you can refer to the articles listed at the end of this one.
But what about masks? Do they really help? How effective are they? According to Dr. Dan Erickson (former emergency-room physician) and Dr. Artin Massihi (emergency medicine specialist affiliated with multiple hospitals) of Accelerated Urgent Care in California, they’re not helping at all.
When you wear gloves that transfer disease everywhere, those gloves have bacteria all over them. “I’m wearing gloves,” not helping you…Your mask that you’re wearing for days, you touch the outside of it, COVID, and then touch your mouth, this doesn’t make any sense. We wear masks in an acute setting to protect us, we’re not wearing masks (right now). Why is that? Because we understand microbiology, we understand immunology and we want strong immune systems. I don’t want to hide in my home, develop a weak immune system, and then come out and get disease. We’ve both been to the ER through swine flu and through bird flu, did we shut down for those? Were they much less dangerous than COVID? Is the flu less dangerous than COVID? Let’s look at the death rates, no it’s not. They’re similar in prevalence and in death rate. (source)
According to a study published in BMJ Open in 2015,
This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection. Further research is needed to inform the widespread use of cloth masks globally. However, as a precautionary measure, cloth masks should not be recommended for HCWs, particularly in high-risk situations, and guidelines need to be updated.
We have provided the first clinical efficacy data of cloth masks, which suggest HCWs should not use cloth masks as protection against respiratory infection. Cloth masks resulted in significantly higher rates of infection than medical masks, and also performed worse than the control arm. The controls were HCWs who observed standard practice, which involved mask use in the majority, albeit with lower compliance than in the intervention arms. The control HCWs also used medical masks more often than cloth masks. When we analysed all mask-wearers including controls, the higher risk of cloth masks was seen for laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infection.
According to the study, it was unclear if they help at all, and that they probably need to be worn at all times in acute/dangerous settings within the hospital to be effective at all.
There are also other potential health consequences of wearing not just a cloth mask, but also medical masks. The physiological effects of breathing elevated inhaled CO2 may include changes in visual performance, modified exercise endurance, headaches and dyspnea. The psychological effects include decreased reasoning and alertness, increased irritability, severe dyspnea, headache, dizziness, perspiration, and short-term memory loss. (source)
This study suggests that masks don’t really help, and depending on the material, they can actually make things worse. That being said, there are studies suggesting that medical masks are indeed effective, but the studies are referring to health care workers in acute settings, not the general public.
Below is a quote from a very interesting paper published in 2016, titled “The Surgical Mask Is A Bad Fit For Risk Reduction.”
As represented by our cinema and other media, Western society expects too much of masks. In the public’s mind, the still-legitimate use of masks for source control has gone off-label; masks are thought to prevent infection. From here, another problem arises: because surgical masks are thought to protect against infection in the community setting, people wearing masks for legitimate purposes (those who have a cough in a hospital, say) form part of the larger misperception and act to reinforce it. Even this proper use of surgical masks is incorporated into a larger improper use in the era of pandemic fear, especially in Asia, where such fear is high. The widespread misconception about the use of surgical masks — that wearing a mask protects against the transmission of virus — is a problem of the kind theorized by German sociologist Ulrich Beck.
The birth of the mask came from the realization that surgical wounds need protection from the droplets released in the breath of surgeons. The technology was applied outside the operating room in an effort to control the spread of infectious epidemics. In the 1919 influenza pandemic, masks were available and were dispensed to populations, but they had no impact on the epidemic curve. At the time, it was unknown that the influenza organism is nanoscopic and can theoretically penetrate the surgical mask barrier. As recently as 2010, the US National Academy of Sciences declared that, in the community setting, “face masks are not designed or certified to protect the wearer from exposure to respiratory hazards.” A number of studies have shown the inefficacy of the surgical mask in household settings to prevent transmission of the influenza virus…
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