The Magic of Masks

The Flu and Scientific American's War on Reality

The Flu

One of the more infuriating aspects of the lockdown religion has been their incessant desire to credit masks and interventions for the disappearance of the flu. It’s infuriating not just because it’s inaccurate, but because it’s so easily disproven. Even the smallest amount of interest or research is all that’s necessary to point out the impossibility of interventions being responsible for the lack of flu cases. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, the smallest amount of interest or research is simply too much to ask of those in the media.

This week’s culprit is from Scientific American. Here’s the money quote, from the esteemed experts who now control our lives:

The reason, epidemiologists think, is that the public health measures taken to keep the coronavirus from spreading also stop the flu. 

This wildly inaccurate statement can be very easily disproven by looking at the timing of flu outcomes and the similarities in countries with wildly different “public health measures.” So, naturally, the writer shows no interest in questioning the assumptions of epidemiologists, one of society’s least accurate professions.

Japan & Sweden

To begin with, let’s look at Sweden & Japan. Japan has used masks from the beginning of the pandemic with universal compliance. Sweden has had some of the lowest mask wearing rates in the world, with the University of Maryland's survey showing a peak of around 22% usage with low points in the single digits. Yet flu disappeared in both countries within a few days of each other and has remained at extremely low levels.

Here’s the visual from the UMD survey on the difference in mask wearing between the two countries, with Japan in red and Sweden in blue.

Both countries controlled the flu because of masks, see?

United States

We’ll come back to Sweden, but for now let’s move on the United States.

Here I’ve notated specific moments early on in the pandemic, showing how mask usage was specifically discouraged as flu specimens were falling off a cliff. New flu cases had already reached ~zero by the time the CDC completed the flip flop on masks and recommended cloth face coverings on 4/3/2020.

So mask wearing is so effective that it can make flu disappear even before it’s widely adopted. More impressively, mask wearing can also make flu disappear in countries that have little to no compliance. And it also works in countries with universal mask wearing. It always works. Because it’s magical.

Norway & Sweden

Now let’s go back to Sweden.

Norway and Sweden are neighbors and have had wildly disparate COVID outcomes. Per data from The New York Times, Norway’s had a mortality rate of 14 per 100,000 people, while Sweden’s is 136 per 100k. There’s also a similar gap in case rates, with Sweden reaching 9,408 per 100k and Norway only 2,101, as of 4/30/21. Yet both saw flu disappear at the same time and never re-appear, regardless of how effective or ineffective their COVID mitigations supposedly were.

It’s important in this example to pause here and point out here the similarities in transmission dynamics with COVID and flu. After much debate, it’s become fairly clear that COVID and flu have similar transmission dynamics, with aerosols likely being primarily responsible for both. So if public health measures are effective at controlling one, they should be similarly effective in controlling the other. And yet Norway and Sweden have both been able to “control” the flu, yet had very different levels of success against COVID. Given the similarities in transmission between the two, how is that possible if “public health measures” were responsible?

Behavior

Another way to point out the absurdity of attributing success or failure at controlling highly infectious respiratory illnesses to interventions would be to examine differences or similarities in behavior between the two countries. I.e. maybe the Norwegians stayed home more, reduced contact with others, or didn’t go to restaurants as often.

So let’s dig into the actual measured behavior of the two countries, because it’s one thing to ascribe results to interventions, and another to actually look at compliance, right?

From the same UMD International Survey, here’s a measurement of direct contact with others over the past ~5 months in Norway and Sweden. Norway’s in red, Sweden’s in blue. See the huge difference?

How about hand washing? Well apparently the Swedes have been washing their hands significantly more than the Norwegians.

Here’s working outside the home. Nope, nothing there either, Norwegians have spent more time out of the house.

This. This is the big one. This must be it. We’ve heard over and over again that going to restaurants is one of the biggest risk factors in getting COVID. The CDC even did a hilarious "study" about it.

And yet, there’s essentially no difference in restaurant visitation over the past ~five months either.

I could go on and on, but the simple point is that in terms of actual behavior, Norway & Sweden really haven’t been that different. Yet their COVID results are wildly different.

We’re supposed to believe, according to epidemiologists, that public health measures in Norway were totally effective in controlling COVID AND the flu, but with extremely similar behavior, Sweden was ineffective at controlling COVID but just as successful at temporarily eradicating the flu. It strains credulity to the point of impossibility.

Conclusion

We already know that mask wearing and interventions can’t be the reason flu cases have stayed at near zero, because Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States have all seen no re-emergence, despite vast differences in strategy and compliance. It also can’t have been initially caused by masks, because it disappeared before masks were widely used.

So what’s the actual reason flu went away and hasn’t come back? Probably just viral interference, which this study discusses. Maybe something else, no one really has a great answer. But we can absolutely, with 100% certainty, say that mask wearing and “public health measures” is not the reason. And yet, the experts and their partners in media, desperate to validate their comprehensively failed opinions, do their best to continue pushing this inaccurate narrative in order to avoid admitting that their recommendations were completely unsuccessful and unnecessary. The Science™ must be upheld, regardless of reality.