New 35 Nation study: Face mask usage correlates with higher death rates
Using data from 35 countries and 602 million people, peer-reviewed study confirms previous research and cautions use of face masks “may have harmful unintended consequences.”
A new peer-reviewed study entitled: “Correlation Between Mask Compliance and COVID-19 Outcomes in Europe” has demonstrated that use of face masks, even widespread, did not correlate with better outcomes during the COVID epidemic, based on data from 35 European countries with populations of over one million people each, encompassing a total of 602 million people.
The study noted that the average proportion of mask usage in the period investigated (October 2020 until March 2021) was 60.9% ± 19.9%.
Governments and advisory bodies have recommended and often mandated the wearing of face masks in public spaces and in many areas mandates or recommendations remain in place, despite the fact, the study notes, that randomized controlled trials from prior to and during the epidemic have failed to show a benefit to the wearing of such masks with regard to COVID transmission.
The study also noted that the public may have gained the impression that masks could be helpful due to the fact that mandates were usually implemented after the first peak of COVID cases had passed. However, it became evident that masks were not in fact helpful later that same year, when widespread mask usage does not appear to have mitigated the severity of the COVID wave of winter 2020.
“Moreover,” the study concludes, “the moderate positive correlation between mask usage and deaths in Western Europe also suggests that the universal use of masks may have had harmful unintended consequences.”
Science Was Ignored From the Start
For all of modern medicine, it’s been known that surgical masks do not block viruses. That’s not why they’re used. They’re used during surgery and other medical procedures to prevent the transfer of bacteria-laden saliva to vulnerable patients and open wounds.
Yet for some reason, long-standing knowledge was completely ignored and science “rewritten” in the sense that authorities simply declared that masks would work and that was it. Scientific studies confirming masks don’t work were roundly ignored. Among them:
- A 2009 study published in JAMA, which compared the effectiveness of surgical masks and N95 respirators to prevent seasonal influenza in a hospital setting; 24% of the nurses in the surgical mask group still got the flu, as did 23% of those who wore N95 respirators.
- A policy review paper published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in May 2020, which concluded, based on 10 randomized controlled trials, that there was “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks …”
- A 2020 guidance memo by the World Health Organization, which pointed out that “there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.”
- A large COVID-19-specific randomized controlled surgical mask trial, published November 18, 2020, which showed that a) masks may reduce your risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection by as much as 46%, or it may actually increase your risk by 23%, and b) the vast majority — 97.9% of those who didn’t wear masks, and 98.2% of those who did — remained infection free.
- A Finnish COVID-19 specific trial published April 7, 2022, which concluded that face mask use had no impact on COVID-19 incidence among 10- to 12-year-olds.
Comparisons of infection rates (positive test rates) before and after the implementation of universal mask mandates also showed masks mandates had no beneficial effect whatsoever. In one investigation, states with mask mandates were found to have an average of 27 positive SARS-CoV-2 “cases” per 100,000 people, whereas states with no mask mandates had just 17 cases per 100,000.
We can post an unending stream of example graphs…….
STUDY: masks might make COVID worse
A massive study covering 35 European countries (602 million people) concluded that wearing COVID masks did not reduce transmission or deaths and may have exasperated the virus.
n the peer-reviewed study published in the journal Cureus, Dr. Beny Spira reviewed every European country with at least 1 million people between October 2020 – March 2021, when “the entire continent was undergoing an outburst of COVID-19.”
Mask mandates and compliance across these countries varied significantly, from 5 per cent to 95 per cent. By comparing each respective country’s infection and death statistics, along with these mask-wearing percentages, Spira drew two conclusions:
“While no cause-effect conclusions could be inferred from this observational analysis, the lack of negative correlations between mask usage and COVID-19 cases and deaths suggest that the widespread use of masks at a time when an effective intervention was most needed, i.e., during the strong 2020-2021 autumn-winter peak, was not able to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Moreover, the moderate positive correlation between mask usage and deaths in Western Europe also suggests that the universal use of masks may have had harmful unintended consequences.” [Emphasis added]
Of course, previous studies draw contrary conclusions, but Spira argues they falsely attributed mask mandates as having efficacy when in reality, they were implemented at the tail end of COVID waves.
Spira is yet another scientist who has discovered that masks may have harmful effects on public health. As previously reported by The Counter Signal, a separate study found that microplastics in face masks could have exacerbated the virus and caused many health problems.
Furthermore, it isn’t unreasonable to assume Canadian authorities are unaware of these studies or they arbitrarily pick and choose what “science” to follow.
Canada’s state broadcasting company, the CBC, just wrote an article about three “top doctors” in Ontario writing to the provincial health authorities to reimpose mask mandates.
With COVID back on the rise, some cities, agencies mulling a return of health mandates….
Not to be outdone in the annals of covid policy hilarity is Philadelphia.
Less than two weeks ago, Philly announced they would be bringing back a mask mandate in response to a rise in cases.
Set to take effect on April 18th, the mandate was supposed to prevent another surge of infections in the city:
When the city announced April 11 that the mandate was coming back, the health commissioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, said it was necessary to forestall a potential new wave driven by an omicron subvariant. She said Philadelphia had crossed the threshold of rising cases at which the city’s guidelines call for people to wear masks indoors.
“If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections has been followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our residents,” Bettigole said at the time.
A quick glance at a chart of cases in the city after the initial mandate came into effect in June 2020 shows you why city health authorities and the mayor thought that masks would prevent the surge from taking hold:
Cases rose 3,544% after June 26, 2020 to the peak of new cases in January 2022.
With inarguable success like that, how can you blame them?
Their decision is even more absurd when we look at the “increase” in cases that caused them to believe a useless policy was necessary:
Not only did the end of the mandate not lead to an increase weeks afterwards, but even with the slight increase, case rates are still significantly lower than in April 2021 with the mask mandate in place.
Hilariously, the mayor announced that the policy would be ending after only four days in effect:
In a masterclass of misinformation, the mayor of Philadelphia specifically stated that wearing masks would “tamp down the case counts”
“Our belief is that wearing masks again will tamp down the case counts and hospitalizations, and allow us to continue to reopen and to get back to more normalcy,” Kenney said Thursday.
And his health officials had the audacity to credit their “response” with cases dropping, despite the fact that cases had already peaked by the time the mask mandate came into effect and at the exact same time they peaked in 2021.
That desperate attempt to convince the public that masks work is even more absurd when looking at data from neighboring counties. COVIDcast provides a comparison between Philadelphia and their closest neighbors and without labels it’s impossible to tell them apart:
Predictably, the undeniable futility of a mask policy having a positive impact in four days does not enter in the discussion or in the media coverage, which is especially offensive when considering trends are exactly the same in neighboring counties without masks.
Naturally, the mayor and health director also specifically stated that they would not rule out further mask mandates if conditions change.
These two cities are tremendous contributors to some of the worst, least impactful policies in world history.
Their commitment to gaslighting their citizens, openly lying to justify their political desires, and maintaining the delusional narrative that masks are necessary or valuable would be admirable if it wasn’t so immeasurably destructive.
Masks are useless, mask mandates are even more useless, yet cities like LA and Philadelphia are clearly going to forcibly mask their residents on a rolling basis indefinitely.
“CDC guidance,” the politicization of mask wearing, where many on the political left have made masks an visible form of their allegiance to progressive causes, and the desperately incompetent and malicious health “experts” who brazenly lie about the effect of masks are combining to ensure masking is semi-permanent in the anti-science jurisdictions.
No matter how much evidence accumulates against their usage and how ludicrously absurd their statements and justifications are, these two cities represent the future of masking; a clearly useless intervention, designed by incompetent and panicked “experts.”
10 Mask Compilations from Team Reality
With the overturning of the CDC’s mask mandate it’s a good moment to catalog what we’ve been saying for 2 years now.
We’ve written quite a bit over the past two years about masks at Rational Ground. With mask mandates falling faster than an Omicron Gompertz curve, we thought it might be useful to review some of the best-of info from Rational Ground around mask wearing.
- Your Mask Study Cheatsheet – 12 studies and articles about the fecklessness of masking society and children
- The Impact of Wearing Masks – It isn’t just a harmless face diaper. There are certain consequences to repeated use of masks
- Masking Children is an Ineffective Policy and Not Supported by Research or Data – The intrepid @Robber_Baron_ updates their masterful litany of studies showing masking kids is… dumb.
- Infographic: Making Children Mask is Misguided Health Policy – More data here and links to conversation with the mask-chart guru Ian Miller
- Masks are NOT source control – Our intrepid PPE expert Megan Mansell explains it all.
- Dangerous pathogens found on children’s face masks – ICYMI: We sent some kids’ masks onto a lab. What came back shocked us.
- Ramifications of Restricted Breathing – Guest post by Megan Mansell on enumerated downside of mask-wearing.
- We’ve Lost our Ever-lovin’ Minds – Some of the best “intervention” nonsense to make you roll your eyes forever.
- 1918 Newspaper Clippings – We’ve Known the Truth for 100 Years! If only we had learned the lessons from the great 1918 pandemic – we might have saved ourselves some pain.
- 16 States Where Kids Breathe Freely! – No masks, masks optional – you get to choose. Video, pics and more from these strange outliers from a time gone by.
Masks fail their biggest test in Bangladesh
From Steve Kirsch’s Newsletter:
The recent mask study in Finland was the best mask trial to date. It showed that, if there was any effect at all, masks made it more likely you would be infected. UCSF Professor Vinay Prasad acknowledged this in a recent YouTube video on his channel.
In addition, the highly acclaimed Bangladesh mask study was thoroughly debunked by UK math Professor Norman Fenton who asked the journal to retract or correct the study. Also, the first author of the Bangladesh study, Jason Abaluck, was unable to defend the study in a two-hour discussion with medical journal editor James Lyons-Weiler.
Maybe it is time for politicians to respect what science tells us?
If they have better science, then they should tell us what it is. If they don’t, they should follow the best science.
Please, let’s stop making the problem worse.
We have requested a public debate with Dr. Sara Cody, but she refuses to be held accountable.
Masks do not work to protect anyone from SARS-CoV-2. It’s all based on sloppy science. We asked the senior author of the Bangladesh mask study to defend his study. He failed. Badly. Very badly.
- Masks don’t work
- Do masks work?
- California just re-instituted the mask policy indoors
- Highly acclaimed peer-reviewed Bangladesh study shows that masks don’t work at all
- My letter to the editor on mask wearing.
- We’ve asked Science to retract the Bangladesh mask study
- We’ve asked that the Bangladesh mask study either be corrected or withdrawn
- Mask alternatives
- How to protect Grandma from COVID
- Evidence from the CDC and IDSA that masks work (there is no evidence)
- Masking Kids 10-12: A New Natural Experiment From Finland. Did it work?
- Masking the downside (El Gato Malo article talking about harms)
- Inhaled CO2 concentration while wearing face masks: a pilot study using capnography (referenced by the El Gato Malo article)
- Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children (it’s retracted but I know the authors. Compare the result with the paper above and see who you believe)
- A recent and prior two studies that show facial COVID masks (surgical) are very toxic and dangerous and I warn parents again, these masks do NOT work, ineffective, and are very dangerous to your child
- EPISODE 268: W.H.O. IS IN CHARGE? (watch at 9:58)
A careful analysis of the Bangladesh mask study by British mathematician Norman Fenton showed that the study was roughly equivalent (in terms of statistical uncertainty) to flipping 34 coins, noticing that 18 landed on heads and 16 landed on tails and concluding that coins are more likely to land on heads when flipped. In other words, the Bangladesh mask study proved nothing.
As I write this on April 13, the CDC just decided to continue the transportation mask mandate for another two weeks. Dr. Bob Wachter, Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, concurs with the CDC decision. This doesn’t prove that masks work. Instead, it proves that the CDC, Wachter, and most mainstream scientists (who claim masks work) are incapable of differentiating solid science from a sloppy study.
There have been only two randomized trials to test whether public policy using masks to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 can reduce the spread.
The first one, in Denmark, failed to show that masks made a difference. However, they were forced to re-write their paper to claim masks worked in order to get their study published. This is known as “scientific corruption to match the political narrative.” The BMJ story points to stories such as this one where the journals all refused to publish the study because it determined masks don’t work.
But was it really? We don’t think so for three reasons:
- Mechanism of action: Masks can’t work
- History: Never before in history have masks reduced virus transmission
- Lack of statistical power due to cluster randomization and failure to adjust for biases and confounders: Our analysis by multiple independent people found serious flaws in the study which showed that the effect was so small as to be unmeasurable (less than the noise from biases and confounders). In fact, one of our reviewer argues that, under a very reasonable assumption, the study could be interpreted as finding masks increase your risk of being infected (but not statistically significant).
- Other studies show no effect to negative effects: The Denmark study showed no effect. More importantly, the latest mask study in Finland which is arguably the fairest tests of masks to date since the groups were very well matched, showed that if there is an effect, it would likely be that masks make things worse. This was not our professional opinion, but from a highly respected mainstream doctor UCSF’s Vinay Prasad, who was one of the very few doctors to even read that study (since it went against the narrative, most doctors ignored it). Watch his video at 2:45 where he explains that if anything, masks make things worse.
We challenged Yale Professor Jason Abaluck, the first author of that study, to defend their study. To his credit (and our utter amazement), he agreed but with one condition: we were only allowed one person to challenge him (because that’s how science works of course). We instantly agreed.
The discussion happened on April 3, 2022. The result: Abaluck failed. Badly. Very badly. One of our experts who viewed the interview said that it was worse than just sloppy work. He wrote, “This is bordering on fraud.”
In short, the Bangladesh mask study again failed to prove that masks make a difference. It was all statistical noise.
For example, here’s the graph for purple cloth masks. If masks worked, it would be highly unlikely for these curves to be on top of each other. For some strange reason, graphs such as these were omitted from the paper. Can you guess why??? Yes, it’s because the study was designed to fit the narrative. Subgroup analysis that goes against the narrative is not shown in the paper. That would cause people to ask questions.
You can see the entire 2-hour Abaluck discussion yourself and make your own judgment. You can watch Jason contract himself multiple times and make appeals to authority.
I also include a link to my interview with statistician Mike Deskevich on his interpretation of the Abaluck discussion. In the video, Mike clearly explains why the study shows no effect and he does it in just a few charts. You don’t need to know much about statistics to see what is going on. As soon as you see the huge variation in the control groups (and the huge variation based on mask color), it’s over. This is a great video because you’ll learn how to interpret other studies like this.
Initially, Professor Abaluck was so self-confident he thought he could run circles around us. He was wrong. The truth won.
So now Abaluck has changed his tune. He now says he won’t talk to us anymore or answer any more questions.
The bottom line is this: there is no rock on Earth that is large enough for study authors to hide under. The use of masks to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 has been debunked.
Masks don’t work. There is a reason these studies failed to find an effect: it’s because there is no measurable effect. Our team has said this from the beginning.
In fact, even Fauci agrees masks don’t work. Watch this video starting at 29 seconds into it where he admits it might make people feel better and it might block a “droplet or two.”
Science today is not about transparency. It is about finding creative ways to adjust your study to please your funders and then to avoid being challenged by hiding from people who seek to challenge your work. This is why I can’t get a debate on vaccine safety and efficacy with any of the members of the FDA or CDC committees, for example.
This interview with Abaluck shows that when we do get a chance to challenge mainstream beliefs, we win. So far, we’ve only been given a single “at bat” opportunity. We are now 1-0.
So now you know why we can’t find any authority who wants to debate our team on any of our points: they know they will lose. So they make up excuses to avoid being challenged like that we are misinformed, lack credentials, or that they don’t have time for such silliness as defending their study. This is also why there is such an intense focus on censoring, deplatforming, gaslighting, and discrediting us: because they don’t want their bad science to be exposed.
As any of my readers can attest, I have been trying since May 25, 2021 to get anyone from the other side to challenge me and a few of my team members to discuss whether I am spreading misinformation or the truth.
Thus far, I have been unable to get anyone to take any of my offers, even with million dollar incentives. Here are some of my offers:
- Who wants to be a millionaire?
- “Name your price” offer to qualified vaccine proponents
- Earn $5K if you can find someone who is willing to publicly show us how we got it wrong
- My “name your price” offer to the members of the FDA and CDC outside committees)
- Can any company or government agency justify their own COVID mask policy?
So I was overjoyed recently when I finally got a qualified person willing to challenge on a recorded video our assertion that all public mask policies deploying cloth, surgical, and N95 masks are nonsensical and not justified by science.
Finally, for the very first time, the world will get to see a discussion between the two sides on a key issue: Do masks work?
The two randomized studies on masks and SARS-CoV-2
There have only been two randomized trials testing the hypothesis that masks can reduce the spread of COVID.
The first one, in Denmark, was negative. Masks made no difference. But in order to get the study published, they had to change the science to match the narrative. This was all well documented in the BMJ, one of the few honest journals left. I note that nobody disputes this.
The second one, in Bangladesh, claimed masks are effective. It is the study that all the “experts” seized upon. “See, masks work!!”
I asked the first author, Yale Economics Professor Jason Abaluck, if he would answer a few questions we all had on the study as none of us believed it. It was cluster randomized so it didn’t have sufficient power to detect a small signal. Plus, purple cloth masks showed no effect at all, red cloth masks were the most effective, and surgical masks were in between the two. This means it’s all statistical noise.
Lots of people had issues with the Bangladesh study
El gato malo and UC Berkeley Professor Ben Recht were two of the first people to point out the flaws in the Bangladesh mask study. Then our team independently verified Recht’s work. See Masks don’t work and skip down to the section entitled, “Supporting evidence that the Bangladesh study showed masks don’t work” for all the articles analyzing the study.
In other words, it was clear to the critical thinkers in the room that there was no detectable benefit at all.
But Professor Abaluck said that we got it wrong. And to our utter amazement, he agreed to defend his study in an interactive discussion.
We could not believe it!!!!
A first author who is willing to engage our team and defend his study!?!? That has never happened before. Never! Normally these people run for the hills when we call on them. Could we have made a mistake? We thought about it for a few seconds… nah, no way.
There was one big condition: Jason would only agree to engage with us one person at a time.
To make it a “fair” exchange, we picked someone on our team (James Lyons-Weiler) who was completely unfamiliar with the study and we gave him a week to read the study and prepare.
So the discussion is between:
- the person in the world who is arguably the most familiar with the study (Professor Abaluck) vs.
- one of our guys (James) who just read the study a week ago.
The two hour discussion between Professor Jason Abaluck and JLW
It got even worse. When Professor Abaluck realized he lost, he basically said, “Stop with the questions!” If this isn’t a tacit admission that his study is deeply flawed, I don’t know what is.
Professor Abaluck basically doesn’t want to talk to us anymore because we ask hard questions and point out serious flaws in his study. And we caught him contradicting himself multiple times in this short 2-hour conversation. One of our experts from the UK (a very famous math professor) viewed the video and was appalled. He wrote to me, “This is bordering on fraud.”
If anyone with any serious academic credentials thinks the Bangladesh mask study and the video discussion proves that masks work, I’d be willing to pay you $100K to show us we got it wrong (you only get the money if you can convince any of our team members on the call).
Of course, nobody will take us up on the offer because they know every person we discredit like this just makes the case for masks even worse.
So even though there is no cost to get the $100K, the risk is you lose and discredit yourself and dig a deeper hole that makes it even harder for anyone to defend the study in the future. That’s why nobody qualified to defend the study will do so even though there is no financial risk; the reputational risk is huge.
The Mike Deskevich analysis of the Abaluck interview: highly recommended
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