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UK health boss says face masks were ‘ineffective’ in slowing the spread of COVID

Face mask news

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, former deputy chief medical officer of England and current head of the UK Health Security Agency, expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of face masks in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

In her statement to the UK’s Covid inquiry today, she said the evidence supporting the use of face coverings for reducing transmission is uncertain, partly due to the difficulty in isolating their impact from other Covid measures.

Harries criticised government advice from the first wave of the pandemic on homemade masks, noting that the recommendation to use one or two pieces of fabric was ineffective. Studies indicated that at least three layers were needed to have a minor effect on virus spread, but even this was not strongly supported by evidence, the UK Daily Mail reported.

Harries told the inquiry that encouraging the public to wear masks might have given a ‘false sense of security’, leading people to believe they could reduce infection risk while still mixing closely with others. This, she feared, could lead to reduced adherence to ‘more effective’ measures like social distancing.

In May 2020, she wrote to cabinet secretary Simon Case, expressing concern that people might think wearing face coverings, especially those made from inadequate materials like t-shirts, would allow a return to normalcy without proper evidence supporting such measures. This concern was shared by other medical officials and was part of broader anxiety around lifting restrictions for various industries and sectors simultaneously.

Image credit: Mika Baumeister

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3 COMMENTS

    • Mask pollution overwhelmingly perpetrated by all the very same idiots who got plastic bags banned and straws replaced with that god awful paper that dissolves into mush after 2 minutes in your drink 🤦🏼

      A pox on their bloodlines.

  1. Not all epidemiologists agree with Professor Dame Jenny Harries.
    Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong who has studied masks has said that community masking could reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by around 10% to 20% which he regards as a worthwhile moderate effect.
    Cowling has said, “Ultimately even a very careful person will be infected eventually, but masks could delay that or reduce the rate of infection from once per year to once every few years, perhaps,”.
    “Community masking is not aimed to prevent everyone from ever getting infected, the aim is to reduce transmission and ‘flatten the curve’, reducing peak healthcare demand, or to work in combination with other measures like social distancing to contain transmission in the short-term.”
    Dr. Roger Chou, a professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University is an expert in evidence-based medicine and has co-authored a rapid review about the effectiveness of mask interventions.
    He has said that despite limitations, masks have generally been found to be enhance reduced risk of SARS-CoV-2.

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