A New Zealand government-approved media representative in this clip of a recent ministerial press conference likened face mask non-compliance with drink driving and suggested that we need to move towards “becoming a mask wearing society”. NZ Minister for COVID-19 Response Dr Ayesha Verrall then confirmed that the government are planning a mask promotion campaign.
What is the Evidence on Face Masks?
After more than two years the world is now drowning in data confirming that, contrary to Dr Verrall’s claim that “masks matter”, in fact they make no difference at all to viral transmission. Tertiary level qualifications are undertaken by experts in personal protective equipment because the subject is in fact complicated. Megan Mansell, a subject matter expert, shows the complexities in this 3 minute address to a US school board.
Ms Mansell explains why medically vulnerable people are endangered by mask policies, using technical language. The two most important terms on this subject are:
- Droplets – larger, heavier particles of respiratory secretions that drop quickly to the ground. Tiny but often visible, these are the spray you sometimes see when sneezing.
- Aerosols – tiny, light, invisible virus particles which float in the air for hours at a time.
Respiratory viruses such as Influenza and COVID are transmitted primarily via aerosols, with droplets playing a small role. Masks are rendered useless by the tiny size and ongoing presence of viral aerosols in the air around us.
Face masks do appear however, to matter in respect of their contribution to COVID-specific harms, alongside other known harms associated with their use.
As an Infectious Disease physician with expertise in Tuberculosis (a bacteria transmitted by aerosols), how could Dr Verrall get it so wrong? UK Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Gary Sidley probably answers this question by identifying the political purpose of face masks as a visible tool to heighten and maintain community fears. Placing face masks firmly back into public consciousness at the exact same time as the Director-General of WHO announced the same recommendations at a press conference on the other side of the world, hints at Dr Verrall being first and foremost a politician, working in lockstep with a global collaboration.
There is so much evidence now that it is hard to know what to recommend first. Within New Zealand the Voices for Freedom Resources page offers information on masks and legal rights. Medical literature includes but is not limited to the following. The first two recommendations are useful as they meet the criteria of high level evidence, reviewing volumes of evidence rather than a single research study.
- Are Face Masks Effective? The Evidence. Updated regularly by Swiss Policy Research as new evidence emerges. Swiss Policy Research are an independent, non-partisan and nonprofit research group investigating geopolitical propaganda.
- More than 150 Comparative Studies and Articles on Mask Ineffectiveness and Harms. A December 2021 review by Dr Paul Alexander at the Brownstone Institute. Dr Alexander is a clinical epidemiologist with expertise in evidence based medicine, who worked on the White House Coronavirus Task Force in 2020. The Brownstone Institute was created in May 2021 in response to the chaos of the Covid pandemic response, and consists of voluntary contributors with high level academic and public health expertise.
- Face Masks and Covid-19: The Foegen Effect. An observational study showing higher Covid-19 mortality rates in those counties of Kansas state USA with mask mandates, than in the counties without mandates.
- Correlation Between Mask Compliance and COVID-19 Outcomes in Europe. A peer reviewed analysis suggesting that face masks have no impact on infection rates in Europe, and may be associated with increased death rates.
Returning to the New Zealand context, a series of videos has been created (see below) by social media influencer “Coronavirus Plushie“, showing the mixed messaging we have been given about face masks by our government mouthpieces. Creating confusion is a known psychological tactic, also called gaslighting. It disrupts our sense of control to nudge us towards compliance with the wishes of the ‘gaslighter’.
One of the roles of NZDSOS, we hope, is to offer clarity amidst the confusion in order to empower people to recognise the lies we are being told, and make independent choices regardless of authoritarian demands from government figureheads. Why does the government want us to “become a mask wearing society” if the evidence shows they are ineffective against virus transmission and cause harm?
Recent revelations from data analysis in England show that rather than the government’s claim that only 5 million citizens remain “unvaccinated”, in fact the figure runs closer to 30% (18.9 million) for dose 1. Is it possible the same lies about vaccine rates are being told in New Zealand? Has this jeopardised plans for a social credit passport system? Would enforced masking offer another option to introduce the passport system? We don’t know and there may be other reasons for the push to enforce masks. What we do know is that the evidence for face masks as a protective measure against viral transmission is not driving this agenda.
NZDSOS have compiled a list of risks vs benefits for mask use, below. One of our team has added increased risk for falls, especially in the elderly, as another factor for consideration as masks obscure field of vision. This fact is known by aviators – observant travellers will notice an absence of face masks in the cockpit.
What might have happened to the epidemiology of Covid in New Zealand had we followed established public health practices such as those outlined by the World Health Organisation in 2019? We suggest far better outcomes than those shown in the following graphs, by data analyst and author of a recent book titled Unmasked: The Global Failure of Covid Mask Mandates, Ian Miller. It appears as though we employed a “let it rip” strategy?
Watch: Face Mask Gaslighting in New Zealand
NewstalkZB Asks Michael Baker If He Ever Said That Masks Don’t Work.
Countering Michael Baker’s Misinformation-Filled Sales Pitch For Indoor and School Mask Mandates in NZ.
A more detailed review of face mask information in the New Zealand context: Challenging Epidemiologist Michael Baker on Face Masks and Mass Masking.