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Last year’s official guidance is this year’s misinformation

“Coronavirus: Face masks could increase risk of infection, medical chief warns” reported the Independent on March 12 2020:

Members of the public could be putting themselves more at risk from contracting coronavirus by wearing face masks, one of England’s most senior doctors has warned.

Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer, said the masks could “actually trap the virus” and cause the person wearing it to breathe it in.

“For the average member of the public walking down a street, it is not a good idea” to wear a face mask in the hope of preventing infection, she added.

Sales of the masks have sky-rocketed since the Covid-19 outbreak began, with retailers including Boots and Amazon selling out of the products before the virus had even taken hold in the UK.

Asked about their effectiveness, Dr Harries told BBC News: “What tends to happen is people will have one mask. They won’t wear it all the time, they will take it off when they get home, they will put it down on a surface they haven’t cleaned.

“Or they will be out and they haven’t washed their hands, they will have a cup of coffee somewhere, they half hook it off, they wipe something over it.

“In fact, you can actually trap the virus in the mask and start breathing it in.”

Asked if people are putting themselves more at risk by wearing masks, Dr Harries added: “Because of these behavioural issues, people can adversely put themselves at more risk than less.”

I do not post this in order to mock Dr Harries. She made several reasonable points in the video. If she was nonetheless wrong about the overall effect of the population wearing masks, she was wrong in good company – that was medical orthodoxy at the time. I do not post this in order to advocate for or against wearing face masks. (I wear one when circumstances require, while seeking to avoid the behaviours that Dr Harries warned against.) I post it to show how dangerous it is to censor unorthodox views on medical issues. If would-be censors like the Guardian‘s George Monbiot had had his way, we would have banned all talk of mask-wearing in March 2020.

15 comments to Last year’s official guidance is this year’s misinformation

  • “Asked about their effectiveness, Dr Harries told BBC News: “What tends to happen is people will have one mask. They won’t wear it all the time, they will take it off when they get home…”

    What appears to have happened, judging from the state of the streets, is they have several, and simply discard the used one by dropping it whever they happen to be standing. Amazingly, the councils that are keen to target people with heavy fines for throwing away other rubbish seem blind to this,

  • JB

    What makes this comment more odious was what may have motivated it: lies.

    When the WHO came out against mask wearing during the early days of the pandemic, it was because they were trying to back the lie of a certain government (I’m in a part of the world were saying “Voldermort” may have consequences) that the virus was not easily transmitted through airborne contact (if no airborne infection, why wear a mask?).

    In America, in the early days of the pandemic the Surgeon General and Fauci both cautioned people NOT to wear masks for the reasons cited in this article; they later ADMITTED it was a LIE motivated by the desire to preserve PPE that was in severe shortage for medical personnel due to hording by Voldermort (who knew they were lying about transmission and ease thereof).

    Was the above UK official’s position motivated by similar such lies?

    We are living in an age of lies where authorities are pissing in our face and telling us it is raining.

  • Paul Marks

    This was shown after the 1918-1919 crises. Prolonged mask wearing can be very dangerous indeed.

    Why do the governments of the West not warn people about the dangers of masks? For the same reason that they do not tell people to boast Vitamin D3 levels and they SMEAR Early Treatment.

    Boasting Vitamin D3 levels in the population and EARLY TREATMENT with a combination of existing medications (not even new ones) would have saved about 80% of the people who died in the United Kingdom and the United States – but the health bureaucracy were either silent or actually SMEARED Early Treatment.

    Whatever the international governmental and corporate response to Covid 19 has been about it has NOT been about “saving lives”.

    People who cite articles about governments and corporations wanting to create a “riskless society” or being obsessed with “saving lives at any cost” have totally missed-the-point, the administrative system (government and corporate) never had “saving lives” as their aim – quite the contrary.

    What their true aim is we can debate – but the idea they are about “saving lives” is nonsense. If they had been interested in saving lives they would have been pushing both increasing Vitamin D3 levels and pushing EARLY TREATMENT with a combination of well known medications – they would have been doing these things for the last year.

  • Paul Marks

    “No Paul, you do not understand – they were totally obsessed with VACCINES that is why they ignored BOTH increasing Vitamin D3 and EARLY TREATMENT with a combination of existing medications”.


    Well the first vaccine came out in August last year (the Russian “Sputnik V” – there are presently three Russian vaccines). The American bureaucrats, and their friends the Brazilian bureaucrats, actively smeared this vaccine – they convinced the Brazilians not to use it.

    Check out how many humans beings in Brazil have died.

    So the international establishment were interested in “saving lives” were they?

    Pull the other one – it has got bells on.

  • Health Experts Are Telling Healthy People Not to Wear Face Masks for Coronavirus. So Why Are So Many Doing It?

    This headlines an article from Time magazine of March 4th, 2020. It got some notice on its anniversary 🙂 – but can do with getting more.

    “It seems kind of intuitively obvious that if you put something—whether it’s a scarf or a mask—in front of your nose and mouth, that will filter out some of these viruses that are floating around out there,” says Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University. The only problem: that’s not effective against respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. If it were, “the CDC would have recommended it years ago,” he says. “It doesn’t, because it makes science-based recommendations.” [my bolding]

    Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist and senior director for practice, research and policy at the American Psychological Association, suspects that people are clinging to masks for the same reason they knock on wood or avoid walking under ladders. “Even if experts are saying it’s really not going to make a difference, a little [part of] people’s brains is thinking, well, it’s not going to hurt. Maybe it’ll cut my risk just a little bit, so it’s worth it to wear a mask,” she says. In that sense, wearing a mask is a “superstitious behavior” [my bolding]

    Back then, there were many other articles to the same effect: trust the ‘experts’ (and trust us as the reporters of the experts – and thus the reporters of who is expert and who isn’t). Some of these articles get a ‘page-gone’ response if you look for them now – they have become one with the non-existent-snows of The Independent’s yester-year.

  • John B

    There is no evidence from observation that wearing masks in the general population has ever reduced the severity of epidemics of respiratory viruses, or reduced deaths.

    There is no statistical difference for hospitalisations because of CoVid, or deaths from CoVid, between Countries/US States where masks have been worn or not, or where some have had stricter rules than others.

    In many places during the first lockdown when supermarkets were about the only stores allowed to open, and mask wearing for customers was not compulsory, there was no noticeable increase in hospitalisations and deaths of workers.

    If masks and other measures were effective, why wasn’t the virus eradicated months ago?

    Masks are primarily used during surgery to reduce bacterial infection of open wounds from bacteria from respiratory tracts of theatre staff standing right over or near the patient. Such bacteria not harmful to their host being possibly harmful in an open wound.

    They were never intended to prevent viral spread.

    In the hospital situation, protection from infection by a virus from an infected patient is considerably more rigorous than just a paper or cloth mask, and involves respirator masks, full body, hands and hair covering, plus face shield with special handling and disposal of protective equipment.

    If wearing a mask alone were effective, why bother with the rest?

  • Paul Marks

    For the first six months (at least) the staff in the local supermarkets did NOT wear masks – neither did the customers.

    Where is the evidence that the stuff at supermarkets all died of Covid 19? Why could we not get the virus at a supermarket, but could get it at a book shop?

    No doubt, like the official medical advice of last year (which was do NOT wear masks) – this will all be shoved down the Memory Hole.

    We live in an age when American government agencies, such as NASA, change such basic things as historic temperature data – so they can pretend that now is hotter than the early 1930s (the opposite of the truth).

    And do the media expose the lies of government? No, they HELP the lying – and denounce anyone who tries to expose it.

    Physical death is one thing – but we are also seeing in the West is spiritual death.

    And I am as subject to spiritual death as other people – when I compare myself with, for example, my own father, I am filled with self-disgust. I am a coward – really I am unfit to live.

    We do not measure up to our ancestors – just as our institutions (such as government agencies and the media) do not measure up to what they once were.

    In the end institutions are just people – and if people become scum (as with those who control so many government agencies in the West – but the rest of us as well) so do the institutions.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Hence the foolishness of the expression, “Following the science”. Science is a process, not a Revealed Truth.

  • Snorri Godhi


    What appears to have happened, judging from the state of the streets, is they have several, and simply discard the used one by dropping it whever they happen to be standing.

    Over here, cloth masks seem to be favored (unfortunately), but there are enough disposable-mask wearers to make me pleasantly surprised at how few masks end up littering the pavements/sidewalks.

  • I wear a mask because too many people shriek and wail and point fingers and stern language at me if I don’t. I’ve had my vaccinations. They’ve had time to sink in. Even if I were to go out wearing a sandwich-board sign saying I’ve had my vaccinations, the shriek-wail brigade would scream at me.

  • JohnK

    We are at war with Oceania. We have always been at war with Oceania.

  • I’m not at war with Oceania. But Oceania seems at war with me.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Ellen – a person is vastly more likely to die in Oceania (if by that we mean the United States and Britain – Air Strip One) than you are in Eurasia (Russia, Belarus and so on), or East Asia (China, Japan).

    We were told that the Chinese might be rigging their death figures – but every other East Asian country as well?

    It seems very unlikely that they are all rigging their death figures.

    It is almost as if people of European origin are more vulnerable to this disease. How odd, what a shock with a virus that came from a Chinese government lab (although YES it was natural – but it may well have been tweaked, Gain of Function research). What a strange coincidence.

    However, there is also the (utterly baffling) policy of Western Governments and Corporations of SMEARING Early Treatment with well established medications.

    In many very poor countries in this world, doctors actually save patients – they save them by Early Treatment with well known medications.

    In many rich Western counties this does NOT happen – instead people die in vast numbers.

    Johnathan Pearce – why is the media not interested in all this?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Got a fresh supply of vitamin D today.

    The pharmacist suggested that, since i had ingested 4000 IU daily through the winter, i might want to scale it down to 2500 IU daily.

    I mention this because, implicitly, the pharmacist confirmed what i thought i knew, that vitamin D is depleted very slowly.

  • Sok

    I think many people wear a mask as a sort of comfort blanket, bit like teenagers skulking around in a hoodie. Silly really and quite sad.