Thank you for your email. I note your objections to my displaying a poster regarding masks on my office door. I am aware of what the current government guidelines are, however, these are not based on fact or scientific evidence.
It is my contention, supported by a robust catalogue of scientific research, that mask-wearing not only fails to protect the wearer from any respiratory viruses that may be circulating, but can also significantly increase the risk of suffering ill health.
In the first instance, regarding the protective effect the Government alleges masks have, a 2020 meta-analysis found that evidence from randomised controlled trials of face masks did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility. (1)
In another meta-analysis (2), face masks were found to have no detectable effect against transmission of viral infections. It found: “Compared to no masks, there was no reduction of influenza-like illness cases or influenza for masks in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.”
Further, this 2016 meta-analysis (3) found that both randomised controlled trials and observational studies of N95 respirators and surgical masks used by healthcare workers did not show benefit against transmission of acute respiratory infections. It was also found that acute respiratory infection transmission “may have occurred via contamination of provided respiratory protective equipment during storage and reuse of masks and respirators throughout the workday.”
It is therefore quite clear that mask-wearing does not prevent the spread of viral infection, as the Government erroneously claims. As you are no doubt aware, government as an institution has a long-standing and well-established history of lying and misleading the public, so that they are doing so again now should come as no surprise.
However, if mask-wearing was merely a useless, but otherwise benign, measure - perhaps intended to increase people's feelings of security during an alleged pandemic, even if it has no actual medical effect - then that may be acceptable in some circumstances. Unfortunately, however, that is not the case. Mask-wearing directly undermines and endangers health, as science has repeatedly demonstrated.
A 2018 study showed that surgical mask wearers had significantly increased dyspnoea (difficult or laboured breathing) after a 6-minute walk than non-mask wearers. (4)
Researchers are also concerned about possible burden of facemasks during physical activity on pulmonary, circulatory and immune systems, due to oxygen reduction and air trapping reducing substantial carbon dioxide exchange. As a result of hypercapnia, there may be cardiac overload, renal overload, and a shift to metabolic acidosis. (5)
Clearly, then, mask-wearing not only represents no benefit to health, it also actively increases health risks, some of them severe. People visiting our office building represent a diverse cross-section of the population, and may include those with COPD, asthma, or other breathing difficulties, which mask-wearing may worsen exponentially by restricting breathing and increasing chances of dyspnoea.
Furthermore, a wide range of exemptions to mask-wearing exist under the law, which include those with hidden disabilities such as autism and PTSD, and persons for whom the prospect of wearing a mask causes severe distress. The law states that no "proof" of exemption status is required, and to ask for it is illegal under the Equality Act 2010, punishable by a personal fine of up to £5,000 and punitive damages of between £900 and £9,000. (6)
Given the above, I will continue to display the sign about masks on my office door, as my responsibility, informed both by science and ethics, is to promote the truth, not merely to parrot the dogma and propaganda of the state.
Thanks for taking the time to get in touch and I hope this letter has made my position clearer to you.
1) J Xiao, E Shiu, et al. Nonpharmaceutical measures for pandemic influenza in non-healthcare settings – personal protective and environmental measures. Centers for Disease Control. 26(5); 2020 May.
2) T Jefferson, M Jones, et al. Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. MedRxiv. 2020 Apr 7.
3) J Smith, C MacDougall. CMAJ. 2016 May 17. 188(8); 567-574.
4) E Person, C Lemercier et al. Effect of a surgical mask on six minute walking distance. Rev Mal Respir. 2018 Mar; 35(3):264-268.
5) B Chandrasekaran, S Fernandes. Exercise with facemask; are we handling a devil’s sword – a physiological hypothesis. Med Hypothese. 2020 Jun 22. 144:110002.