After weeks of dis-information that masks don’t work, professor says “wear masks!”

After being repeatedly told by the Government that wearing masks doesn’t stop transmission, and despite millions of people in Asia where rates are dropping wearing masks, ….we now find that “The British public’s failure to wear facemasks is hampering our efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus”. heads should roll in the Government after this crisis is over.

So masks may actually provide protection if most people are wearing them, but there may not be enough to go around

KK Cheng, a professor of public health at the University of Birmingham, has finally broken ranks, rubbishing the official Government line about masks saying “Official advice not to use the masks, which are ubiquitous in Asian countries that have already controlled their outbreaks, means we are ignoring “a perfectly sound public health intervention. If each of us had a mask to wear, I just can’t see why transmission would not be reduced, ….If I had to go on the underground I’d use a scarf, handkerchief, anything to cover my mouth.”

and what of the apparently greater number of men dying?
Women have a stronger immunological response due to X chromosomes and the responses that women take will be stronger in their immunological response because the X chromosome contains the coding that maps for anti-viral protein production. This makes their immune systems stronger, but it could also be that statistically men wash their hands less often and are higher risk takers, for example 50% of Chinese men smoke compared with 2% of Chinese women and this will skew figures in China.

It is a matter of orthodoxy at the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that surgical facemasks are of no benefit in the corona fight as far as the public are concerned and officials have long taken the view that paper masks do not protect against viruses and as a consequence the UK does not hold emergency stocks of them. This contrasts with Asia where there is material support in health departments and amongst the public for the use of masks on the basis that the mask protects everyone else from the wearer and therefore there is an understanding in the public that you wear a mask to protect others and that it is your duty to do so.

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – a long standing ally of Whitehall in the no-mask camp – announced that it was about to change its advice, and that “…..surgical masks should be used, not for personal protection, but to protect others from Covid-19“.

If the UK had listened to China and not sought to protect itself from criticism that it had not ordered emergency supplies for population-wide use, could the use of masks have slowed the spread of the pandemic in the west? Were our public health officials blindly following dogma in the face of evidence?

Rumour is that Gordon Brown in 2009 wanted the UK to hold a stockpile of masks. The same issue arose in 2009 during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic when the virus was breaking out of Mexico and heading towards Europe and officials in the DHSC, with no specialised training and without the benefit of any scientific data supporting their case, could only look at the question of masks from the perspective of the individual. and despite the fact that since the victorian times, it has been known that the mask protects the patient and not the wearing doctor. In fact, masks provide little protection from viruses which are airborne and can create a false sense of security but this is largely due to them being ill-fitting and needing regular adjustment, causing wearers to touch their hands to their faces and need regularly replacing because they create a potential magnet for germs. – Yet this is a false premise as evidenced by the fact that UK doctors and nurses are so angry about not being provided with enough proper FFP3 respirators.

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