False claims about the efficacy of face masks

November 1st, 2020 8:00 PM

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SIR – I was dismayed to read the letter from John Lucas in the issue of the Star dated October 24th, 2020. Aside from his endorsement of Media Induced Mass Panic and speculation about distorted statistics for Covid-19 cases, the writer makes false and misleading claims about the efficacy of face-masks.
He states that ‘any face mask becomes saturated with moisture from the wearer’s breath, over about 15 minutes,’ that ‘the moisture is a pathway for the virus through the mask, and may act as a virus reservoir’ and, hence, that ‘a fresh mask is needed every 15 minutes, otherwise the mask only makes matters worse.’
This grand statement is simply false, as a whole and in its parts. No reputable scientific source is given for the writer’s assertion; in fact, medical staff wear their face-masks all day without changing them every 15 minutes. Since June, my wife and her colleagues have worn one face-mask eight hours every day, five days a week, with no lasting ill effects.
There is no free-speech legitimacy, nor epistemic warrant, for the average person’s opinion about the health benefits of face masks in a global pandemic that even trained scientists are struggling to understand. Facebook and Twitter have found a way to remove posts, even from Donald Trump, which spread misinformation about Covid-19. The Southern Star should not have published this letter.

Dr Paul S McDonald,
Senior lecturer in
Philosophy (retired),

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