UK face coverings discussion

Puffing Devil

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See also the interview with the authors on Unherd

They are quite clear that in their view there is a lack of evidence that masks help.

Given that the government mandated masks on the basis of claimed 'growing evidence' this is pretty damning.
They are of the view that there is not enough evidence. Not unsurprising given that their raison d'etre is "Evidence Based Medicine".

The hosting platform is hardly "Nature". This article in the Spectator, known for its left-leaning liberal views sets the scene:

A new star is born today into the centre-right blogosphere: UnHerd. The latest brainchild of Tim Montgomerie, founder of ConservativeHome
(For the avoidance of doubt, I was being sarcastic about the Spectator)
 
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DavidB

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I know what unherd is, but that's not really relevant to the point - the expertise of the academics is not in doubt.
 

Puffing Devil

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I know what unherd is, but that's not really relevant to the point - the expertise of the academics is not in doubt.
The expertise of academics is always in doubt. That is why we rely on peer-reviewed journals for credible evidence, not free publishing websites. Even then, bad actors do manage to scrape through.

Assertions must always be questioned, challenged and retested. Peer-reviewed journals are an essential part of this.
 

DavidB

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The expertise of academics is always in doubt. That is why we rely on peer-reviewed journals for credible evidence, not free publishing websites. Even then, bad actors do manage to scrape through.

Assertions must always be questioned, challenged and retested. Peer-reviewed journals are an essential part of this.
Says the man who supports a government diktat which is based on shaky evidence...
 

Puffing Devil

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Says the man who supports a government diktat which is based on shaky evidence...
That's very emotive language.

It's a law, not a diktat.

More studies are needed to confirm the efficacy; no formal studies have been shown that is causes harm.

I'm happy to support masks on the understanding that my inconvenience may protect others.
 

DavidB

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A law dubiously enacted under emergency powers without clear evidence that it's justified and which is unpopular with many fits the definition of diktat pretty well!
 

Puffing Devil

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A law dubiously enacted under emergency powers without clear evidence that it's justified and which is unpopular with many fits the definition of diktat pretty well!
I'm happy to be proved wrong. All I have to lose is, for me, a minor inconvenience.

In time there will be more evidence. Meanwhile, we progress with what we have. This is a mask, not an untested vaccine.
 

Mcr Warrior

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No-one can be held responsible for passing on infection under any circumstances.
Really? That's interesting.

Nothing under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 or the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020?

Or infections other than COVID-19?
 

adc82140

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On the good news front I've not seen anyone for days wearing the masks with the outlet valves that fire their exhaled breath straight at you.

On the bad news front, I watched one of the players on the subs bench at the FA Cup final pull his down to give his nose a good pick. This is similar behaviour to what I'm seeing left right and centre out and about at the shops.
 

Yew

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A viewpoint is not a study, or even a paper. They also do not speak for the University of Oxfords Centre for Evidence Based Medicine.
Semantics, the article clearly summarises the current state of the underlying science, and that all randomised controlled trials agree unanimously that there is no effect.
 

Yew

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I'm happy to be proved wrong. All I have to lose is, for me, a minor inconvenience.

In time there will be more evidence. Meanwhile, we progress with what we have. This is a mask, not an untested vaccine.
You are aware that you're not the only person inconvenienced. It's an inconvenience (at least), to 50 million adults. This is a public health measure with significant financial cost. (For example, a £5 mask for 50million adults gives a cost of 0.25 billion pounds.) Based on shaky evidence of effectiveness, in situations that don't seem to be major drivers of transmisison, when the infection rate is less than 1/4000. A packed to the rafters Wembly stadium would have a whole 23 people with COVID19 based on the current infection rate. Just think of how many shopping trips you'd have to go on to even stand a chance of being in the same store as someone with C19, never mind get close to them for even a second.
 

talldave

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You are aware that you're not the only person inconvenienced. It's an inconvenience (at least), to 50 million adults. This is a public health measure with significant financial cost. (For example, a £5 mask for 50million adults gives a cost of 0.25 billion pounds.) Based on shaky evidence of effectiveness, in situations that don't seem to be major drivers of transmisison, when the infection rate is less than 1/4000. A packed to the rafters Wembly stadium would have a whole 23 people with COVID19 based on the current infection rate. Just think of how many shopping trips you'd have to go on to even stand a chance of being in the same store as someone with C19, never mind get close to them for even a second.
This is what's so depressing. No evidence of transmission in supermarkets, but let's impose a pointless measure anyway. We have months of statistics showing infection rates dropped whilst people shopped in supermarkets, but those are ignored so that the Facebook Furloughs can pat each other on the back and spout yet more "greater good" rubbish.
 

DavidB

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It is, but the inconvenience and cost to each individual is small. That's what counts overall.
As usual, you are claiming that you find it a small inconvenience therefore so does everyone else.

Some of us now feel that we are unwelcome on trains or anywhere else the mask rule applies and are taking active steps to avoid going to such places. Can you really not see how socially divisive this is?
 

Bletchleyite

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As usual, you are claiming that you find it a small inconvenience therefore so does everyone else.

Some of us now feel that we are unwelcome on trains or anywhere else the mask rule applies and are taking active steps to avoid going to such places. Can you really not see how socially divisive this is?
I certainly think we need a better approach to exemptions to ensure those people are not finding it uncomfortable to travel etc (and I'm not sure what that is). But anyone who is not exempt really does need to comply.
 

AdamWW

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This is what's so depressing. No evidence of transmission in supermarkets, but let's impose a pointless measure anyway. We have months of statistics showing infection rates dropped whilst people shopped in supermarkets, but those are ignored so that the Facebook Furloughs can pat each other on the back and spout yet more "greater good" rubbish.
You've lost me.

What does the fact that infection rates dropped while supermarkets were open prove?

What evidence do you think we would have now of transmission in supermarkets if it did take place?
 

talldave

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You've lost me.

What does the fact that infection rates dropped while supermarkets were open prove?

What evidence do you think we would have now of transmission in supermarkets if it did take place?
It proves that supermarkets weren't causing increases in infection rates.

None.
 

Scrotnig

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The people to whom it it a massive inconvenience are exempt.
The exemptions are utterly useless since the police have sanctioned vigilante action against *anyone* not wearing a mask. Anyone. Not "anyone if they're not exempt". Anyone.

I now fear reprisals if I go into a shop without a mask, so despite being exempt I can't go in any.
 

Yew

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It proves that supermarkets weren't causing increases in infection rates.

None.
That's probably an overstatement, but I think that this, coupled with the fact that we've had no outbreaks related to Sainsburies in Salisbury, or Tescos in Telford does suggest that supermarkets aren't a major driver of transmission.
 

Enthusiast

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So if I forget to get my car MOT'd and fail to find out the brakes are faulty, I'm not responsible if I run over a pedestrian because of the faulty brakes,
You don't get "asymptomatic" faulty brakes. If your brakes are faulty you know that they are. You don't have to wait for an MoT test to find out.
On the good news front I've not seen anyone for days wearing the masks with the outlet valves that fire their exhaled breath straight at you.
Apart from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
What does the fact that infection rates dropped while supermarkets were open prove?
About the same as the fact that infection rates appear to have increased now the pubs are open.
 

Bantamzen

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I'll also engage. I have no such qualms.

What I see is that social distancing worked very well. Part of the economy like non essential shops, hairdressers and pubs reopened and cases continued to fall. The recent rise in cases correlates almost exactly with when the masks in shops mandate was introduced.

I believe what has happened is two effects:
1. People don't use masks properly, and given there very little evidence of efficacy, it's entirely possible that poor mark hygiene is making things worse, not better.
2. Psycologically, many people "feel safer" that others around them are masked, and hence aren't being so diligent with social distancing, or even bothering at all.

It stands to reason that if masks aren't effective in stopping transmission, but cause people to lessen their adherence to other measures (especially those that aren't legally enforceable), then on the whole they are a bad thing.
The data backs this up.

So no, I won't wear a mask. I find it distressing so I am exempt. And if I do inadvertently infect someone then it's likely I would have infected more had I been masked.
I'll expand on this. Yesterday my wife and I went shopping in Leeds, and a a first glance it seemed that mask wearing compliance was high. That is until I noted that a lot of people were moving & fiddling with them, and so the risk of them transferring moisture from their coverings onto surfaces were the virus might be able to linger far longer than in the air is clearly greatly increased. It is therefore not unreasonable to consider the possibility that mask wearing compulsion is actually increasing the possibility of infection, not decreasing it as claimed.
 

Bletchleyite

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I'll expand on this. Yesterday my wife and I went shopping in Leeds, and a a first glance it seemed that mask wearing compliance was high. That is until I noted that a lot of people were moving & fiddling with them, and so the risk of them transferring moisture from their coverings onto surfaces were the virus might be able to linger far longer than in the air is clearly greatly increased. It is therefore not unreasonable to consider the possibility that mask wearing compulsion is actually increasing the possibility of infection, not decreasing it as claimed.
As we have paused changes to most other measures but widened mask usage slightly, we will be able to see over the next 2 weeks or so if masks are having a positive effect or not.
 

Bantamzen

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As we have paused changes to most other measures but widened mask usage slightly, we will be able to see over the next 2 weeks or so if masks are having a positive effect or not.
"Widened mask usage slightly"? I think you'll find we've increased it massively. As for their effect, we are now in the start of the period where this might be measured given that the median incubation period is 5.2 days. So if there is an uptick in cases in the coming days & weeks, it is possible that masks might actually be having a negative effect.
 

Puffing Devil

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Semantics, the article clearly summarises the current state of the underlying science, and that all randomised controlled trials agree unanimously that there is no effect.
No. The viewpoint states the need for more and better trials. Did you miss my earlier quote from the piece? It does say that the most recent research

using lower quality evidence found masks to be effective
Maybe your definition of "agree unanimously" is different to mine? Or maybe you missed this when you read the viewpoint?


You are aware that you're not the only person inconvenienced. It's an inconvenience (at least), to 50 million adults. This is a public health measure with significant financial cost. (For example, a £5 mask for 50million adults gives a cost of 0.25 billion pounds.)
Since you are seeking to reduce this to a financial argument, the introduction of the carrier bag charge imposed a similar, if not greater, financial burden on households though I didn't see the same vociferous complaints at the time. If it's just finances that are the problem, why not give away masks or remove the carrier bag charge to reduce the impact?


It proves that supermarkets weren't causing increases in infection rates.
If only supermarkets were the only variable it would be easy to make that connection. Unfortunately, that is not the case.


I'll expand on this. Yesterday my wife and I went shopping in Leeds, and a a first glance it seemed that mask wearing compliance was high. That is until I noted that a lot of people were moving & fiddling with them, and so the risk of them transferring moisture from their coverings onto surfaces were the virus might be able to linger far longer than in the air is clearly greatly increased. It is therefore not unreasonable to consider the possibility that mask wearing compulsion is actually increasing the possibility of infection, not decreasing it as claimed.
In your scenario, we're giving with one hand and taking away with the other. However, if we continue to practise good hand hygiene the risk of transmission via surfaces it counters the risk that you identify, whilst the risk of airborne transmission is also reduced. I think we can at least agree that the ongoing government advice has been to "Wash your hands"?

"Widened mask usage slightly"? I think you'll find we've increased it massively. As for their effect, we are now in the start of the period where this might be measured given that the median incubation period is 5.2 days. So if there is an uptick in cases in the coming days & weeks, it is possible that masks might actually be having a negative effect.
Not that easy. The uptick started after the pubs and restaurants re-opened and generally, we've seen a decline in social distancing and greater mixing. People have started to use public transport for leisure trips and mixing between households has been allowed, in some regions. There are too many variables to say that widened mask usage is having an effect. To get that quality of data we would need a proper trial, which is not ethically practical. The best we can hope for is a lab-based study/simulation with an observational study of compliance.
 

Richard Scott

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The bag charge was to encourage reuse and less wasted plastic (which now seems to be a problem with all these masks) and supermarkets would sell you a bag for life for 10-50p. Not quite on same scale?
 

Mcr Warrior

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Apologies for asking a question which has no doubt already been raised before.

If the general consensus (either rightly or wrongly) is that folk should wear face coverings to prevent the wearer (since they may be asymptomatic) from inadvertently spreading COVID-19 to others, to what extent does the already-infected wearer adjusting such coverings cause a further issue, given that they already have the virus?! (Unless, of course, by adjusting the face covering, it no longer adequately covers the airway, meaning a greater likelihood of the infected-wearer expelling virus in airborne droplets).

So, if there is an issue with adjusting face coverings, is there a greater risk for non-infected wearers (i.e. all those who don't have COVID-19) that of possibly transferring virus, from the face covering they are wearing, into their own nose and eyes?

So, in this circumstance, is the face covering, if it is fulfilling a role by acting as a crude filter for the virus, helping or not?

Appreciate commentary from those with a better understanding on this issue than me.
 

Scrotnig

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The bag charge was to encourage reuse and less wasted plastic (which now seems to be a problem with all these masks) and supermarkets would sell you a bag for life for 10-50p. Not quite on same scale?
Well we don't care about the environment now anyway, because it's not the deadly killer virus.

All that inconvenient stuff about not filling the oceans with plastic has been ditched in favour of forcing people to wear muzzles.
 

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