(Letters to the Editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Catholic Insight, but are meant to prompt discussion and dialogue, in good Socratic and Christian spirit).
Paula Ducepec in her article ” Speaking out: Wearing a mask shows you care” ( August 26/2020 – Catholic Register) describes with youthful idealism her views on this worldwide trend, as a sign of Catholic charity, and suggests that those that oppose it as being conspiracy theorists.
I respectfully disagree on both counts, from both scientific and health perspectives.
First of all, speaking a scientist and a health professional a mask was primarily designed for people working in a sterile environment – as for doing surgery or for people working with toxic substances, ie chemicals, or flammable liquids – not for healthy individuals in other environments.
In 2013, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, whose slogan is “Evidence Driven”, published a review of relevant literature, which clearly states: ” No evidence was found on the effectiveness of wearing surgical masks to protect staff from infectious material in the operating room”. That would be air conditioned and sterile environments. Now imagine masking in the general public, in all indoor places which are not sterile and even during heat waves. That is certainly Not sterile, and how much protection would those people have?
A May 2020 meta-study on pandemic influenza published by the US CDC, found that face masks had no effect, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.
Also, the World Health Organization confirmed in a recent report from June 5/20 that: “At present time , the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider”.
Thus making someone feel uncharitable for not wearing a mask would be as logical as telling someone to feel guilty for not wearing a cervical collar or back brace all day, to supposedly help their spine, eventhough they had no whiplash injury or no lower back signs or symptoms. In actual fact using those items incorrectly could lead to more problems, eg weakening of underlying musculoskeletal structures and hurting oneself later on with increased workloads, eg osteoporosis linked fractures. Likewise, wearing a mask continuously by a healthy person could cause a weakening of one’s immune system, and consequently inhibit the development of herd immunity, making one even more likely to get sick in the future.
Second of all, expanding on the harms of masking, there are very many, notably: increase in “mask mouth” with 50 % increase in patients presenting with gum disease and oral decay; difficulty breathing and skin rashes as warned by the WHO; reduction in resilience and performance of healthy persons from tests at University Hospital of Leipzig in Germany; severe psychosocial consequences due to introduction of mandatory masks in Germany on 1000 participants; inhalation of chlorine compounds in polyester masks as explained by the Hamburg Environmental Institute; possibility of fainting ( due to reduction of oxygen) as a US driver did wearing an N95 mask, consequently crashing into a pole; and even worse as happened with two boys in China, who after wearing masks during sport classes, fainted and then died ( Swiss Policy Research – Facts on Covid-19).
Third of all, the wearing of masks gives the wearer a false sense of security, since the viruses being extremely small can very readily pass through the openings in the masks. As Dr Stefano Montanari, science director of a nanodiagnostics laboratory explained, using a mask to protect yourself from getting infected with a virus would be as effective as putting up a wire fence around your house, in order to prevent mosquitoes from entering your property.
Fourthly, the writer omits without any charity those people that cannot wear a mask due to underlying medical conditions, eg asthma, heart irregularities or skin sensitivities. Also she omits those that are physically handicapped or have jobs that are physically very demanding, which would prevent them from wearing a mask safely.
Fifth of all, there have been hundreds of medical, scientific, economic, religious and legal experts, who have seriously questioned the validity of the worldwide panic created over this Covid-19 virus, described as no more lethal than a regular influenza outbreak, with 3 major examples being: –
1. the compelling evidence by Dr Sucharit Bhakdi ( a specialist in microbiology) and others, from the ” 12 Experts Questioning the Coronavirus Panic”;
2. the German Extraparliamentary Commission of Enquiry into Covid-19 ( entitled ACU); and
3. Archbishop Carlo Vigano’s and others letter entitled “Appeal For The Church And The World- to Catholics and those of good will”, with 90 individuals or group signatories representing prelates, journalists, doctors, virologists, immunologists, virologists, researchers, lawyers, teachers, professionals and associations.
Thus, labelling such distinguished people noted above as conspiracy theorists is wrong since they are not doing anything illegal as a conspiracist would do, but giving their honest professional opinions. To label them as such, shows a mindless dismissal of the scientific evidence coming increasingly from all corners of the globe – which contrasts with the largely ideological and politically correct rhetoric, fed to us through the mainstream media on TV, or through popular social platforms on the internet.
Dr Andrzej Caruk
B.Sc. (Microbiology and Human Sciences)
D.C., DACO, FACO ( Neuromusculoskeletal Specialist -Orthopedics)