Commentary by DANIEL HOROWITZ | December 07, 2021
Those who believe in the freedom of bodily autonomy are celebrating a slew of recent court rulings enjoining the Biden administration’s injection mandate. However, no GOP state attorney general has bothered to fight the equally immoral, illogical, and inhumane mask mandates that are still in place. Despite nearly two years of evidence that strict mask-wearing has zero effectiveness in stopping the spread, the mandates on 2-year-olds on planes and in many schools still continue. Slovakia is a perfect case study of the mask mendacity.
On May 13, 2020, the Atlantic published an article lauding Slovakia for, at the time, having the lowest per-capita COVID death rate in Europe. The article’s prediction should now be the laughingstock of the world:
When this pandemic ends, and when the reckoning over how the world responded invariably begins, Slovakia will likely be among those highlighted as a success story, whereas the United States—which was supposed to be the country best prepared for such a crisis—will be remembered as among those that suffered the worst. How Slovakia was able to flatten its curve comes down to more than just quick decision making and the widespread adoption of face masks. Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned from Slovakia is of the value of leading from the front.
Slovakia was so worried about masks that the country even got Taiwan to donate hundreds of thousands of these useless cloths as part of a bilateral trade agreement.
Well, that was before Slovakia’s first winter wave. One can excuse people for mistaking low spread at the time for mask efficacy rather than the fact that the country just didn’t get its turn yet. But for countries to continue this inhumane mandate despite what we now know demonstrates that masks are not a means to public health but an end in themselves of tyranny.
At over 2,000 new cases per million per day, according to Our World in Data, Slovakia now has more cases per capita than any country in the world. To put this in perspective, that is almost three times the level of the winter peak in the U.S., a country that has not exactly performed well in the pandemic!
It’s true that some individual states closer to the size of Slovakia have had more severe waves. However, even the worst counties in the upper Midwest are tracking about 1,200 new cases per million per day.
And here is the epidemiological curve presented by the inimitable Ian Miller, juxtaposed to policy solutions:
It’s not just Slovakia. Wherever you turn in Europe, both masks and vaccine mandates have failed miserably, and the spread is now worse than ever. Belgium is now six weeks into the new mask mandate, and it has more cases than ever before, even though the Belgians already suffered one of the deadliest waves in all of Europe. Oh, and 87.4% of adults are vaccinated.
To begin with, the CDC, as late as May 2020, was citing the 10 randomized controlled trials that showed “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.” The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford also summarized six international studies that “showed that masks alone have no significant effect in interrupting the spread of ILI or influenza in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.”
The only randomized controlled trial studying mask efficacy against COVID published last year was the now famous Danish study that failed to show any meaningful reduction in spread from mask-wearing. Then, several months ago, the media trumpeted a large study done in Bangladesh that seemed to show efficacy. Well, now that the authors have released the actual data, we see that indeed no such claim can be made from the study. It turns out that out of over 340,000 individuals over a span of eight weeks, there were only 20 fewer cases of COVID detected in the mask group over the control group – 1,106 symptomatic individuals confirmed seropositive in the control group and 1,086 such individuals in the treatment group.
Even these results are hard to interpret because of numerous confounding factors. University of California Berkeley professor Ben Recht critiqued the study as follows:
This study was not blinded, as it’s impossible to blind a study on masks. The intervention was highly complex and included a mask promotion campaign and education about other mitigation measures including social distancing. Moreover, individuals were only added to the study if they consented to allow the researchers to visit and survey their households. There was a large differential between the control and treatment groups here, with 95% consenting in the treatment group but only 92% consenting in control. This differential alone could wash away the difference in observed cases. Finally, symptomatic seropositivity is a crude measure of covid as the individuals could have been infected before the trial began.
Given the numerous caveats and confounders, the study still only found a tiny effect size. My takeaway is that a complex intervention including an educational program, free masks, encouraged mask wearing, and surveillance in a poor country with low population immunity and no vaccination showed at best modest reduction in infection.
In other words, you can now add this to a list of 400 studies compiled by the Brownstone Institute that fail to find any correlation between public policy interventions and better pandemic outcomes.
It’s not OK for Republican-controlled states to continue to ignore the facts that masks are inhumane and they simply don’t work. Consider the fact that Head Start has now mandated masks on 2-year-olds, many of whom have special needs. Oregon has moved to make its mask mandate permanent. Why are no red state governments at least suing against the federal mandates, and why are so few red states even banning mask mandates within the states?
The courts are all political. They only responded to the lawsuits against the vaccine mandate when they saw robust political opposition within the political branches of the red states. They see no such opposition regarding the mask mandates. Thus, absent a unified effort from state attorneys general, they are unlikely to respond to a handful of individual lawsuits. The same legal rationale denying the feds the power to force vaccines also denies them the power to cover our breathing holes. But the courts only respond to political momentum.If nearly two years of masking failing to work anywhere is still not enough to end the most invasive human mandate of all time, then we truly are no longer a free people.