There are plenty of reasons to question the 2020 fashion craze of donning face masks to “save lives.” An article that covers the argument against masks is Cory Morningstar’s report on masks as a new source of plastic pollution coming right at a time when there had been, apparently, a worldwide recognition of the problem. Plastic straws disappeared just as our streets were filling up with discarded masks. The sociologist Ed Curtin remarked, with a comical lament about the disappearance of eros and the appearance of fear, that he used to see discarded condoms when he went for his walks in the park, but now he just sees discarded face masks.

Cory Morningstar’s article also covers the issue of plastic contamination of our bodies. When we have these coverings on our faces all day, we are ingesting micro-plastics, as well as other toxic fibers and vapors—all of them known to cause lung damage.

Then there is the persistent problem of proving that the mass wearing of masks has actually done what it is supposed to do. Many of the new cases and serious infections are occurring in people who wore masks at all times. Of course, when they get sick, they will blame it on that non-masked someone somewhere who passed within two meters of them.

At first, the WHO and various national health agencies said masks have no proven effectiveness, do more harm than good, and would not be used properly in most cases. Then they all changed their policy, in unison, promoting the theory that mask wearing would stop the spread of virus-laden droplets, even if the masks could not block individual virus particles.

The same institutions had recently dismissed the use of hydroxychloroquine, or any treatment that showed some promise of being effective, because there was a lack of double-blind clinical trials confirming beyond doubt that they were appropriate. In contrast, no such proof was demanded of the theory that mass mask wearing would stop the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus and save lives. It was just taken on faith and on an observed correlation: Look at all those Asian nations where they wear masks. The masks must be the reason that their fatality rates and caseloads have stayed so low. No other possible explanations were considered, such as better health care systems, better diet, a generally healthier population, genetic differences, different demographics, recent immunity gained from exposure to locally endemic weaker strains of coronaviruses, and—believe it or not—a lack of Neanderthal genes in the population.

Risk of Severe Coronavirus Linked to Neanderthal Genes From 60,000 Years Ago
 “Around 50 percent of the people in South Asia and 16 percent of people in Europe now carry this length of [Neanderthal] DNA, which scientists have now linked to the most severe form of COVID-19… According to the new research, those who have this genetic inheritance are three times more likely to require mechanical ventilation once they contract the virus”
Tessa Koumoundouros, “Risk of Severe Coronavirus Linked to Neanderthal Genes From 60,000 Years Ago,” Science Alert, October 1, 2020

There is another consideration that makes me doubt the reasons stated for the mask mandates, and it is one I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere. We are all familiar with the concept the immunocompromised person. A century ago, no one would have known what this meant, but now it is something everyone is familiar with. It came to be common knowledge when the AIDS virus was identified in the 1980s, and the common person on the street is now likely to also know that the term applies to people who have had organ transplants and chemotherapy, as well as to people whose immune systems are “out of whack” because of exposure to toxic chemicals or traumatic events.

Immunocompromised people are told by their doctors that they have elevated risk of dying from infectious diseases that are harmless to people with healthy immune systems. They could die from a common cold. Yet what was the common advice given in the past to such people? They were never advised to wear masks, and neither were the people they came into contact with. They were told to wash their hands frequently and take extra precautions around people who were temporarily suffering from colds, influenza or gastro-intestinal infections. That’s it. What kind of crazy scientist or politician would go around demanding that all schools, stores and businesses had to impose mask-wearing in order to protect a minority of people who are immunocompromised? Before 2020, such a suggestion would have appeared to be utter madness. We classified infectious diseases more as forces of nature beyond our control.

The difference now might lie in the fact that previously the majority of people didn’t feel endangered by the presence of immunocompromised people. Immunocompromised status was not contagious. That drug addict on the street, or the AIDS patient in the drug store may develop a case of tuberculosis, but that will not affect others. With the new coronavirus, people feel more vulnerable, like it could hit randomly, close to home, to loved ones or to oneself.

The billboard advertisement below shows the selfish one “who doesn’t care about others” and the one who “thinks they’re better than everyone else,” but the mask-wearing is really motivated by fear for oneself, not concern for others. Previously we didn’t wear masks to protect the immunocompromised because we felt sure we wouldn’t end up like them. What this advertisement should also make plainly apparent is the shameless shaming and gaslighting that is being used to enforce mask-wearing. If it were not a campaign carried out in bad faith, the authorities would use persuasion and refrain from mandatory laws and harsh enforcement. 80% compliance would be just as effective as 100%, assuming one could ever prove any effect.

Now you might say SARS-Cov-2 is more dangerous than anything that has come before, but if it is, it is still only a slightly elevated threat, compared to other health hazards and “acceptable deaths” we pay no attention to. The threat posed to most people is low and it doesn’t warrant the extreme reaction to it that is causing massive harms in other ways.

At one point it was feared that the case fatality rate was 5%, and that would have been disastrous, but it became clear quickly that the rate was in the range of 0.2 to 0.5%, which made it similar to influenzas of the past. At first appearance, the H1N1 influenza virus also seemed to have a frighteningly high fatality rate, but health authorities quickly got a better understanding of it and they wisely turned down the social panic about it. In the US, that was President Obama who decided to just let a certain number of people die from it while the economy and borders stayed open. No one condemned him for his recklessness. H1N1 still exists as an endemic disease, yet few people think about getting vaccinated against it.

But you might say SARS-Cov-2 is different because it is causing lasting effects that people are slow to recover from, and serious damage to vital organs. It is not clearly understood how prevalent these complications are, or if these effects are different than the damage caused by influenza. I came across an article the other day describing how someone died of pancreatitis after infection with  SARS-Cov-2. The case did indeed sound very grim, but then I did an internet search for “pancreatitis influenza,” and sure enough several articles appeared describing cases where pancreatitis appeared during an influenza infection. The same goes for all the other severe damage attributed to SARS-Cov-2. A minority of people suffer organ damage from influenza, and others complain of fatigue lasting for months. It is not clear whether the virus causes the damage randomly, or whether it aggravates an existing problem. The health damage caused by the virus is going to be a burden on the economy and the health care system. No doubt it is a tragedy when people suffer so greatly from what should be a passing fever, but their susceptibility is a consequence of modern life, in both good and bad ways. The person who dies at age 70 is both fortunate and unfortunate. Medical care helped him survive childhood and live that long, but modernity also gave him heart disease at the end of his life. My point is, however, that before this year, we always accepted this situation and lived with the risk without creating massive unemployment and harsh restrictions on social interactions. In the past, suggesting the imposition of such restrictions would have been recognized as sheer madness. No one would have contemplated it longer than a minute. So the only important questions to ask are…

1. Why now?


2. Why such compliance?