SIR – In response to Dr McDonald’s letter (October 31st, 2020), I feel I must reply to some of his points.
I had not thought that my letter could have been taken as endorsing the Media-Induced Mass Panic of Covid-19 – I believed I was deprecating it. However, if I need to correct the impression he – and presumably others – got, then let this letter correct my position.
I did not believe that a letter to a newspaper required me to give scientific references. However, in addition to my own experience and expertise in the transmission of moisture and soluble materials through permeable materials, a field in which I worked for a number of years, may I direct your attention to ‘Int J Heat Mass Transf. 2005 Sep; 48(19): 4229-4242’ among other sources. The article cited considers the transfer of SARS virus (a coronavirus) through face masks and the formation of virus reservoirs in the saturated micro-environment inside the mask. It seems likely that different mask constructions will lead to different transfer characteristics.
I note Dr MacDonald does not quote references for his assertations. My observations on skin effects on mask wearers stem from conversations with a number of health service personnel in both Ireland and the UK. All statistics I quoted are taken from the government’s own published statistics, and were correct at the date of the original letter (16/10/20).
I am pleased to hear that having a Master’s degree in Chemistry qualifies me as an average person.
Finally, may I direct your attention to a quote – variously attributed: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ If I have persuaded people to think critically, then the purpose of my original letter is achieved,
John Lucas, MA (Oxon),
former research and development chemist and statistician.