commented on Blaylock: Face Masks Pose Serious Risks To The Healthy
2020-05-27 18:02:27 -0700
I feel that the author of this article, a retired physician, has deliberately chosen a deceptive title. Perhaps a more appropriate title would be: Face Masks COULD POSSIBLY Pose Serious Risks to the Healthy THAT DO NOT FOLLOW RECOMMENDATIONS.
Dr. Blaylock attempts portray all masks as a safety risk based upon some evidence that N95 masks restrict airflow, possibly resulting in headaches or syncope. However, it is important to note that not a single agency is recommending the universal use of N95 masks. These are intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings. As a physician myself, it has been my experience that healthcare workers typically only wear these masks during interactions that pose a possible exposure risk.
It is true that the efficacy of facemasks in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 is still debated, but it is widely believed by experts that cloth masks do somewhat decrease the rate at which infected people transmit the virus. A simple way of understanding the common-sense logic behind this theory is to think of a time that you have felt small droplets land on your skin after someone has coughed in your direction. These droplets are what carry the virus. Moreover, cloth-masks have the additional benefits of preventing face touching and promoting social distancing, which both unquestionably help prevent the spread of the virus.
I find it interesting that Dr. Blaylock has chosen to attack the practice of wearing masks in an attempt to prevent the spread COVID-19 due to a lack of conclusive evidence regarding their effectiveness, while simultaneously presenting another argument based on very little evidence at all. In the article, Dr. Blaylock proposes that “By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.13” Although this is a documented pathway for viral spread, the author bases his claim on scant evidence including a few relatively weak investigations of non-SARS-CoV-2 strains of the coronavirus, an inconclusive study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and a 1989 study the mouse hepatitis virus strain JHM (MHV-JHM). None of the sources investigate the potential for autoinfection resulting from the concentration of exhaled coronavirus in the nasal passages.
A possible disturbing flaw in Dr. Blaylock’s logic is his belief that a mask is capable of containing the virus in the nasal passages but not capable of preventing its spread in the air. Regardless, if there is any possibility someone is sheading the virus, it is my hope that they feel some sort of societal obligation to prevent the spread of the disease in order to protect the most vulnerable among us.
The implementation of interventions to slow the spread of the disease have been effective. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these measures has made it easy for people to doubt the legitimacy of the COVID-19 threat. In the face of all the conspiracies floating around, I think it is prudent to remember that in 1918-1919, St. Louis placed a 2 month ban on visiting public places and multiple cities required facemasks by law. Then, things returned to normal.