why masks are like condoms on steroids

population of masks.jpg

this is about the plural. masks (and condoms) being used by a population to contain a pandemia! not any individual mask efficacy (although that topic also pops up).

between 2004 and 2005 there were almost 4 million deaths directly due to HIV world wide. from 1997 to 2016, the number was never lower than 1M per year. HIV killed over 30M lives and it continues to do so today. the total number of deaths from covid-19? 1.1M.

as for condoms

According to Contraceptive Technology, the real-world success rate of condoms in preventing pregnancy is 85% over one year for couples who use condoms 100% of the time.[1] What does that mean? Every condom failure may not lead to pregnancy but it does post a risk for HIV exposure. The 15% failure rate over one year increases with time, reaching 56% at five years and 80% at 10 years.

think about that for a second. did you think condom was 98% or even 85% effective? something as simple as a condom can actually turn up to 80% failure!!

i couldn’t find even any correlation between condom usage, sales, and HIV deaths, anywhere in any population. spent almost 1h trying to find anything there. might not look like much, but chances are: there is no correlation!

masks are even worse…

meta

back exactly 2 months ago, in august, i searched the web for different word combinations of “mask covid inefficient science proof countries” to try and find a good article to either prove or disprove the effectiveness of masks to myself.

it’s a task i know well how to do, and how tiresome it is, so i mostly avoid doing it. so much so, the last time i recall going that far was when i wrote a much shorter text (with another focus) around [circumcision] over 9 years ago, in 2011 - by all means, do check it out even if you’re not interested in the topic!

so, in any case…

the first one seem to be from a reliable source, and wants to prove wearing masks is good, no matter what and then its main reasoning comes from this study which doesn’t even say that masks really work or anything.

dreadful.

then the next one comes from a nice college…

same bullshit.

side note: in fact, no article i’ve found mention washing masks and mask hygiene… perhaps they’re assuming everyone knows the proper way to wear a mask. we don’t. not even in asian countries. and i know this because, unlike condoms and sunglasses, masks are terribly hard to use effectively. no article mention that, but the ones trying to defend the usage are the main ones that should mention it!

then there was the 3rd attempt…

kudos to wired! it is a great article not even telling us we should wear or not a mask.

although it suggests that we should wear it, the article doesn’t give a final word of wisdom because the actual science on it is still very inconclusive. just go ahead and compare those articles and their sources.

you may ask “that’s good, right?”.

sure! but do take your time to read those articles for yourself and do a quick research of your own. this is nothing but a reference. my reference.

back to the bad…

i moved on to the 4th one

only to find the same bullshit from the first 2!

they all say it differently, but they all also cherry pick studies to support the idea that masks are intrinsically good, or something on those lines.

the 2 minutes mechanics of how it works look rather simple and bullet-proof: big water droplets will be retained by the mask and won’t reach the lungs from other people… if we’re lucky, even small particles from other people will stay on our mask too! very logical, right?

remember the condoms?

one of the big reasons why they both fail is called moral licensing: because you think you’re protected, you won’t do anything more (that’s actually need and probably more helpful) to add up the protection up to a point that’s good enough. what’s more: just knowing this happens won’t prevent anyone from committing this mistake. because it’s conditioned and too easy to kiss in the moment.

side note: this is exact same thing for sunglasses and sunscreen… TK

moving in to the last article, the worst kind, my 5th one: this piece of complete garbage. they mention a study that defend their preconceived expectation and, at very least (and to their merit) soon later they publish how their base study was retracted because it was plain wrong!!

anyway…

numbers

you’ll see different numbers for mask efectiveness all over the place. from 0 to 80%, they never come closer to n95, 95% which, even then, only works if you can keep it clean and tight (hint: you can’t. nobody can.)

still, the vast majority of mask promoters and wearer lovers think they’re protected. near the 98% theoretical protection from the condoms even. why? because nobody knows the difference between 99%, 98%, 80% and 51%. if we tell ourselves “this is better than nothing” we are basically telling us “i’m doing something. something good. i’m at least a little more protected. thanks to my good will.” unconsciously. yes, you too. me too.

but the single mask doesn’t offer so much effectiveness. it still may even not be effective at all in a population scale!

here’s the exception: CDC, linked in wired, does give instructions to wash masks that nobody follows and nobody will follow. nobody wash their hands for 20 seconds ago the time too.

my whole point here is just one: we need better informed people. and we do need to take all precautions, even wearing masks or a eye patch if there’s a chance it’ll be effective. but it doesn’t mean it’ll work. and we also need to have our liberties.

enough about the technicalities, though…

final

here’s the kicker.

vaccines will be absolutely mandatory. physical distance is by far the best method, and only one capable of resetting the pandemic effect, when it gets out of hand.

please, do us all a favour and spend at least 1h to dig into ncase (nick)’s unique article (except for the naive mask recommendations, of course).

and here are the best graphs i’ve found to keep track: aatish’s (first) and johns hopkins. but there are more, like covidgraph and ourworldindata.

this covid-19 will be contained. but it’s just a very small hint on how terrible our systems are set. it’s set for disaster. to fail miserably. and many more will both live terribly and die because of this.

don’t you love the side notes? there can’t be life without [death]. and death is forbidden in our current system. it’s even a taboo. so are pain and bad things. we don’t need this system.

there’s a better way, to live with acceptance of life. and death. and suffering. and enjoy it all so much more! be really alive.

i call it ahoxus. and you might not believe it, but i don’t need you to believe in. take your time. see it for yourself. this isn’t for everyone. most people will sadly die much before they can get here. others will simply walk around and genuinely enjoy life without living this.

if you’re also even slightly bothered by how reliant you’ve grow to be with sunglasses, do take a deep breath and keep digging (or hang in there)!

plus, wear seatbelts. those are virtually always good. and/or don’t. life will go on.

chances

actual chances to get sick or die…

this time i’ve searched for variations of “chances covid getting odds skeptic shark attack” and found 4 interesting articles.

sadly, the first one would have been ideal, if not for being so outdated (from february) and, as usual, so focused only in the usa. they state chances of dying from botulism there (145 per year) vs slipping and falling (19,500 deaths per year).

granted, covid19 can’t be measured per year and chances will vary wildly, but keep on reading…

the second one is close to useless, as it happens with most infographics… but it’s still an interesting approach: risk only really begins when you spend at least 10 minutes in proximity (less than 1 or 2 meters away) with someone who’s positive. but still, how much is our risk today?

this article from june brings 2 good data points about it: “The study found a 50-to-64-year-old person who has a single random contact has, on average, a 1 in 852,000 chance of being hospitalized or a 1 in 19.1 million chance of dying based on rates as of the last week of May.” but… “critics say the study oversimplified answers to one of COVID-19’s most vexing questions”. fair enough…

finally we found this excellent piece:

More than 19 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus globally, and at least 722,000 have died.

there.

prediction

sidenote: i think i’ve made this prediction around august, but i lost track of history within github, which can’t properly follow it after i renamed the file…

keep in mind the trends are going down and that they’ve been worse before. but, as it is, 800k deaths in roughly 6 months of corona can be extrapolated for a worst case scenario of 1.6 million this year. but since all graphs point to a downward curve, we’re probably past half of the crisis. more likely the amount of deaths for the next 6 months will be less than 700k. not quite a 1 in 19 million chance, but still 1 in 10,000, if my math still serves me right.

so what are the chances of getting covid19 without direct contact for 10 minutes with someone positive? exponentially lower.

my point here is just that even during the crisis, the real chances of getting sick from covid, given we keep a safe distance, are and were significantly smaller than the media and the government would like us to believe, because if most people believe the chances are so small, they won’t keep the crucial safe distance.

and the only thing masks are really good for, other than generating a political debate, is reminding us to keep distance.

for that, perhaps i’ll still find myself one of those transparent astronaut looking helmets. so i can breath better, get more isolated, remind people about covid-19 and how i disagree with masks, and breath better! all at once. 😁

that is, if my awesome new inspiration (let’s have a law to allow people who use tracking app to be mask free) doesn’t pin out. i’m thinking it was probably my own illusion, but sometimes they’re spot on!

wrong

now in december, when we will hit 1.5m deaths before long, it’s easy to see my prediction was wrong. this is the second time i get it wrong. but not by any significant much.

who cares?

i just want to mention it. and this:

disclaimer

this is a huge draft!

i’ll soon edit most of it out and greatly improve this for reading.

too long, didn’t read: don’t bother yet. but you may subscribe for [ahoxus] and get notified once i do a good compilation of this.

cheers!