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Corona-Chan Didn’t Care Until I Put on the Mask

By Anatoly Karlin • Unz Review • April 2, 2020

For most of the past two months, Russian disinformation agents respectable Western Establishment voices such as the Surgeon-General of the US, the CDC, and the MSM (e.g. CNN, Vox) have churned out propaganda that masks are ineffective against containing the spread of the coronavirus. In perhaps the most “powerful” take, Forbes even claimed that they INCREASE infection risk.

This propaganda was bizarre on multiple levels. First, it violated common sense – even a T-shirt wrapped around your mouth and nose will ward off large droplets – there’s a massive amount of other evidence in favor of masks. Second, the conventional wisdom appears to be that this advice was given for a putative “greater good” – preventing runs on masks, so as to spare them for healthcare workers who are much more exposed to the virus. This, at least, made sense – though it had to be balanced against the negative impact on public trust towards “experts” and institutions. However, as Scott Alexander has noted, this explanation is likely false; in reality, the CDC and other American experts have been dismissing the efficacy of face masks for years, including during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 and the MERS epidemic in 2015. So the real explanation is much less altruistic and far more banal than even reasoned critics gave them credit for – it was just sheer bureaucratic inertia and unwillingness to adapt East Asian best practice.

In any case, there is evidence of a turnaround. Global mask production has been revving up, though East Asia remains far in the lead – China alone produces almost half the world’s masks at ~100+ million units per day, and its capacity to supply them will enable it to acquire massive soft power in the coming months. Moreover, an official recommendation to wear masks in public in the US appears to be imminent. The process is more advanced in several European states, such as Czechia, where according to Twitter, face mask adaptation has become near as universal as in East Asia.

This is very good news, if long overdue. Had these policies been adopted at the very start, it is entirely possible that the West would not have seen the huge epidemics and morbid debates about whether to save the boomers or the GDP when a massive bunch of 5 cent face masks would have sufficed to keep r0 at close to 1. But this was left too late, and now there is no choice – POLITICALLY, at any rate – but to impose huge lockdowns that are going to crater the world economy (if only in the short-term… if we’re lucky).

The rest constitutes what I hope will be a useful reference on mask efficacy to convince people who insist that they are useless/won’t do anything/etc. Practical advice on face masks usage at my COVID-19 Survival Guide.

***

East Asian “Lived Experience”

Basic facts: No East Asian region outside Hubei, China – despite their FAR more intensive travel links with China – have experienced major COVID-19 epidemics as in Europe and the US. Not even South Korea, which experienced a freak occurrence thanks to Patient 31, a church-frequenting “superspreader.” Meanwhile, Japan has seen just a bit more than a thousand cases, despite adopting a very relaxed stance towards lockdowns, quarantines, and travel restrictions by global standards – there has not been a COVID-19 explosion as in Europe. Taiwanese cases capped out at 47, before Europeans started tilting their numbers modestly upwards again.

Science: Not wearing masks to protect against coronavirus is a ‘big mistake,’ top Chinese scientist says

Balaji S. Srinivasan: “… Asia shows it doesn’t have to be this way. And their playbooks are online. So it’s bizarre to watch Western leaders surrender to the idea of 40-80% infection rates AND extended lockdown. That’s not a manageable situation, it’s overnight impoverishment.

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Articles

* Scott Alexander: Face Masks: Much More Than You Wanted To Know. Does a large meta-analysis of different studies to conclude that surgical masks are effective.

Meanwhile, n95 masks are more effective than surgical masks, but only if you put them on properly – which is apparently not a trivial task:

I remember my respirator training, the last time I worked in a hospital. They gave the standard two minute explanation, made you put the respirator on, and then made you go underneath a hood where they squirted some aerosolized sugar solution. If you could smell the sugar, your respirator was leaky and you failed. I tried so hard and I failed so many times. It was embarrassing and I hated it.

I’m naturally clumsy and always bad at that kind of thing. Some people were able to listen to the two minute explanation and then pass right away. Those kinds of people could probably also listen to a two minute YouTube explanation and be fine. So I don’t want to claim it’s impossible or requires lots of specialized background knowledge. It’s just a slightly difficult physical skill you have to get right.

Bunyan et al, 2013, Respiratory And Facial Protection: A Critical Review Of Recent Literature, discusses this in more depth. They review some of the same studies we reviewed earlier, showing no benefit of N95 respirators over surgical masks for health care workers in most situations. This doesn’t make much theoretical sense – the respirators should win hands down.

The most likely explanation is: doctors aren’t much better at using respirators than anyone else. In a California study of tuberculosis precautions, 65% of health care workers used their respirators incorrectly. That’s little better than the general public, who have a 76% failure rate. …

Is a poorly-fitting N95 respirator better than nothing? The reviewed studies suggest that at that point it’s just a very fancy and expensive surgical mask.

* Dr. Sui Huang: COVID-19: Why We Should All Wear Masks — There Is New Scientific Rationale

The surgeon general tweeted: “STOP BUYING MASK, they are not effective…”. The Center for Disease Controls (CDC) states that surgical masks offer far less protection than the N95 respirator masks (which also must be perfectly fitted and only professionals can do it). The CDC recommends that healthy persons should not wear masks at all, only the sick ones. These guidelines are not rooted in scientific rationales but were motivated by the need to save the valuable masks for health professionals in view of a shortage. But they may have had unintended consequences: stigmatizing those that wear masks in the public (you are a hoarder, or you are contagious!)

Contrast this with the cultural habit, the encouragement, or even mandate to wear masks in Asian countries — which have now “flattened the curve” or even have had a flatter curve from the beginning.

* Less Wrong: Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2

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Studies

* Yan, Jing, Suvajyoti Guha, Prasanna Hariharan, and Matthew Myers. 2019. “Modeling the Effectiveness of Respiratory Protective Devices in Reducing Influenza Outbreak.Risk Analysis: An Official Publication of the Society for Risk Analysis 39 (3): 647–61.

It was found that a 50% compliance in donning the device resulted in a significant (at least 50% prevalence and 20% cumulative incidence) reduction in risk for fitted and unfitted N95 respirators, high-filtration surgical masks, and both low-filtration and high-filtration pediatric masks. An 80% compliance rate essentially eliminated the influenza outbreak.

* Davies, Anna, Katy-Anne Thompson, Karthika Giri, George Kafatos, Jimmy Walker, and Allan Bennett. 2013. “Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic?Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 7 (4): 413–18.

The median-fit factor of the homemade masks was one-half that of the surgical masks. Both masks significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask.

* Radonovich, Lewis J., Jr, Michael S. Simberkoff, Mary T. Bessesen, Alexandria C. Brown, Derek A. T. Cummings, Charlotte A. Gaydos, Jenna G. Los, et al. 2019. “N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 322 (9): 824–33.

In this pragmatic, cluster randomized clinical trial involving 2862 health care personnel, there was no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza among health care personnel with the use of N95 respirators (8.2%) vs medical masks (7.2%).

* Leung, Nancy H. L., Daniel K. W. Chu, Eunice Y. C. Shiu, Kwok-Hung Chan, James J. McDevitt, Benien J. P. Hau, Hui-Ling Yen, et al. 2020. “Respiratory Virus Shedding in Exhaled Breath and Efficacy of Face Masks.” Nature Medicine, April.

April 4, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 1 Comment

Why Homemade Masks Make Sense

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | April 1, 2020

On Tuesday March 10th – 22 days ago – approximately 55 people gathered for their weekly choir practice at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, an hour’s drive north of Seattle.

At that point in time, only 30 people had died of the coronavirus in the entire United States (compared to 4,000+ today). In a statement released since then, the Skagit Valley Chorale reminds us that, three weeks ago,

There were no closures of schools, restaurants, churches, bowling alleys, banks… or any other businesses. The advice from the State of Washington was to limit gatherings to 250 people.

The volunteer choir has 120 members, but everyone had been advised not to attend rehearsal if they were experiencing any symptoms of illness. According to a news story, the 60 people who showed up brought their own sheet music and refrained from shaking hands or hugging. A greeter provided hand sanitizer at the entrance, and everyone appeared to be healthy. When interviewed afterward, eight people in attendance agreed no one in the room was coughing or sneezing.

A few days later, however, numerous members began to feel feverish. The choir’s public statement explains:

By Monday, the 16th, twenty people had symptoms and we had the first positive test result. By Monday evening, 23 were ill, some of whom attended the rehearsal on March 10, some who had only attended on March 3, and some of whom did not attend either rehearsal… today [March 23rd] we know of at least 21 confirmed positives and 30 people (members and significant others) who are ill.

Two members of this choir have since died. Others have been hospitalized. In the words of Los Angeles Times journalist Richard Read, “The outbreak has stunned county health officials, who have concluded that the virus was almost certainly transmitted through the air from one or more people without symptoms.”

That’s the tricky thing about this virus. We can be carriers and not know it. Even if we wash our hands frequently, we may be infecting others far more easily than the experts have imagined possible.

As a result, a grassroots #Masks4ALL movement is gathering steam. Every time we open our mouths, micro droplets are released into the air. Some of these fall to the ground quickly. Others stay airborne for somewhat longer, and appear to travel farther than expected.

If we all start wearing homemade masks in public (sewn from new fabric, cut from old t-shirts, or improvised with bandanas and scarves), the volume of droplets in the air will decrease – which means fewer germs will be settling on, for example, the items currently lining grocery store shelves.

These masks won’t be equivalent to the N95 masks that keep medical staff safe. But remember that old saying: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Homemade masks will reduce the volume of germs now contaminating public spaces. If I protect you by wearing my mask, and you protect me by wearing yours, we’ll all improve our odds.

According to this video, the citizens of the Czech Republic began making and wearing masks of their own accord, in a grassroots movement that has swept the country.

Police officers who wear bulletproof vests can, of course, still be shot in the head. Homemade masks won’t guarantee our safety, but they provide significant protection.

There’s also the concept of viral load. Our bodies have a better chance of fighting off a smaller amount of virus compared to a higher concentration. A homemade mask may reduce the degree to which we become infected.

In many countries, the authorities have been understandably focused on reserving as many masks as possible for use by medical personnel. As a result, they appear to have blatantly lied to us about masks and the general population. If you don’t have time to watch all the videos embedded in this post, please consider the 3-and-a-half-minute one from the Czech Republic directly above.

There’s no reason to be passive. There’s no reason to wait for officials to come to their senses.

Each of us can make our own mask and start wearing it today.

#Masks4ALL

LINKS:

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Solidarity and Activism, Video | | Leave a comment

While you’re terrified of Covid-19, some climate alarmists are overjoyed because, for them, fear is… an OPPORTUNITY

Climate Strike protestor. March 13, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. © Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
By Frank Furedi | RT | April 1, 2020

Many hardline environmentalists are overjoyed at the atmosphere of fear that Covid-19 has created; for them, it is an instrument for realising the dream of a society that runs according to climate alarmists’ dogma.

“Some believe the pandemic is a once-in-a-generation chance to remake society and build a better future,” argues one advocate of climate alarmism.

So, in case you thought that Covid-19 is a global pandemic of catastrophic proportions, think again!

In the West, hardline environmentalists are working overtime to portray Covid-19 as payback for all the miseries that humans have inflicted on the planet. They claim that global warming, species extinction, the emergence of superbugs and the eating of meat are somehow directly or indirectly linked to the outbreak of the current pandemic. They regard the fears and anxiety generated by the current public health emergency as an opportunity to promote the message that, unless we accept their dogma, humanity will become extinct.

Some of them are positively overjoyed at the opportunity created by the climate of fear that’s all-pervasive across the world. “We’ve been trying for years to get people out of normal mode and into emergency mode,” enthused Margaret Klein Salamon, who heads the advocacy group The Climate Mobilization. She added that “what is possible politically is fundamentally different when lots of people get into emergency mode – when they fundamentally accept that there’s danger, and that if we want to be safe we need to do everything we can.”

Keeping people in a state of fear of what they euphemistically describe as ‘emergency mode’ is the objective of Klein Salamon. As she stated, “now the challenge is to keep emergency mode activated about climate.”

That’s another way of saying that perpetuating –indeed, institutionalising– a climate of fear is the main objective of this movement. From this perspective Covid-19 is not so much a tragic public health issue but an instrument for realising the dream of a society that runs according to the environmentalist dogma of misanthropic miserabilism.

What green fear entrepreneurs really hate is the spirit of human ambition, that refuses to defer to the dictates of nature. This is a spirit that is open to taking risks in order to transform the world through the use of science and technology. From the time when humans stepped out of their caves to taking the risk of travelling to space, there were always those who decided to do what was necessary to conquer their fears. The refusal not to give in to fears is always the first step towards looking for solutions that will allow us to assume greater control over our lives.

It is precisely this aspiration to take control and harness the power of nature and science that climate alarmists despise. They despise it so much that they have coined the term ‘human impact’ to suggest that what people have done to the planet is by definition wholly destructive. They hate humans’ impact on the world so much that many of them want to dramatically decrease the number of babies that are born.

According to the climate alarmist narrative, being scared for your life is the desirable state to be in. As Klein Salamon indicated, “we need to learn to be scared together, to agree on what we’re terrified about”! Why? Because collective fears will force governments to act!

Back in the 17th century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes anticipated the green politics of fear in his classic text, The Leviathan. Hobbes claimed that it is good when people are scared and frightened. Why? Because in their state of fear people will readily subject themselves to an absolutist ruler in exchange for his protection. One does not need a PhD in philosophy to understand that climate alarmist politics leads straight to the doorstep of the Leviathan.

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

Warming Improves Our Health – part 1

What’s Natural

By Jim Steel | Watts Up With That? | March 22, 2020

It’s deeply disturbing to hear people uncritically regurgitate media misinformation suggesting global warming threatens our health far worse than the COVID pandemic. Scientific evidence unequivocally shows colder weather is the major killer. As Figure 1 illustrates, the percentage of all deaths attributed to weather and temperature increases during the cold months. In contrast mortalities rates fall during warmer months. Researchers examining 74 million deaths across the globe from 1985-2012 found 7.3% were caused by temperatures cooler than the optimum compared to just 0.4% attributed to temperatures above the optimum. Extreme temperature events, both hot and cold only accounted for 0.9% of all deaths.

Likewise, a 2014 National Health Statistics reports found, “During 2006–2010, about 2,000 U.S. residents died each year from weather-related deaths. About 31% of these deaths were attributed to exposure to excessive natural heat, heat stroke, sun stroke; 63% were attributed to exposure to excessive natural cold, hypothermia, or both.” Similarly, according to the CDC , from 1979-1999, a total of 8015 deaths in the United States were heat related while 13,970 deaths were attributed to hypothermia. So why aren’t people listening to the science?

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Global warming fear is based on speculation regards what could happen in the future if global average temperatures rose 2°F to 4°F. But scary predictions are not scientific fact until their hypotheses are tested and verified. Without time machines we cannot directly test predicted outcomes for the years 2050 or 2100. But we can observe the effects of a similar temperature change.

In the United States people have steadily migrated away from the cold Northeast to the warmer Southwest. In the Southwest they are exposed to higher average temperatures, temperatures equal to or greater than what global warming predicts they would endure if they remained in the Northeast. The good news, scientists determined that “migration from the Northeast to the Southwest accounts for 4% to 7% of the total gains in life expectancy experienced by the U.S. population over the past thirty years.” We can infer a similar benefit from global warming. A complementary study determined people that migrated to colder climates suffered ‘greater cardiovascular mortality” than people who remained in their native country.

Because the two major U.S. government agencies that track heat and cold deaths – and the CDC – differ sharply on which is the bigger killer, the public is rightfully confused. In contrast to the CDC results, NOAA argues heat is killing twice as many people as cold, but NOAA’s researchers have also been heavily invested in catastrophic global warming claims. By statistically adjusting the data via “seasonal detrending”, they remove the greater number of winter deaths in their analyses and just focus on extreme temperature deaths. They justify their adjustments arguing factors such as increased winter deaths due to flu season are not directly due to colder temperatures. But that obscures the health effects of temperature.

Colder temperatures reduce the effectiveness of our immune systems, which promotes influenza epidemics that may kill 34,000 to 60,000 people in a year. Because influenza season ends when temperatures warm, scientists are hoping warmer weather will similarly curtail the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

NOAA’s adjusted data focuses on deaths from heat waves and cold snaps. Indeed, there is a greater spike in deaths during heat waves, but research suggests heat waves have a small long‑term effect due to a “harvesting effect”. Us elderly and health compromised people are most vulnerable to extreme weather and epidemics. The “harvesting effect” describes an event during which vulnerable people who would have likely died over the following months instead died “prematurely” during an extreme event. But mortality rates drop in the following months because the most vulnerable have already passed. Researchers have found because mortality rates fall during the months following a heat wave there is no long­‑term population effect. In contrast, cold snaps do have long-term effects as researchers found no such “harvesting effect”.

Although alarming models and media narratives suggest global warming causes more extreme heat waves, scientific data disagrees. As the EPA’s heat wave index illustrates (below), there has been no increase in heat waves as the worse heat waves happened during the 1930s.

Fortunately, heat waves are short‑lived and foreseeable. Weather forecasters detect approaching high-pressure systems that bring cloudless skies that increase solar heating. High pressure systems inhibit rising air currents that normally carry heat away. And high‑pressure systems draw warm tropical air poleward on one flank while blocking cooler air from moving south. By forecasting extreme heat waves, scientists believe we can prevent most heat wave deaths. Urban heat effects are 2°F to 10°F warmer than the countryside, thus urban dwellers should be most careful. And because elderly people who lack air conditioning are most vulnerable and less mobile, we can make sure they are moved out of harm’s way.

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Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

March 22, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Siegel Climate Data Movie

Cutting Through The Noise | February 11, 2020

This 45-minute video shows data from authoritative sources on climate and the claims made around carbon dioxide. Spend some time with this video and decide whether the United Nations and other government agencies are telling you the truth.

See Tony Heller’s videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/TonyHeller1

Recent scientific work on climate: https://medium.com/@pullnews/recent-s…

Global Warming for Dummies: https://medium.com/@pullnews/global-w…

The 97% consensus myth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewJ6T…

The Giordano Bruno Institute: http://giordano.institute

Update on Arctic sea ice extent: 2019 was a year of low sea ice, but this year is already tracking back to normal: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/202…

March 22, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

For the green zealots, Covid-19 is our penance for sins against the planet

By Frank Furedi | RT | March 20, 2020

Green zealots want to turn the global catastrophe of Covid-19 into fuel for their alarmist extinction narrative. By blaming humanity’s impact on the planet for the outbreak, they hope to mobilize support for their cause.

The hastily cobbled together green playbook on the unfolding global pandemic seeks to hold humanity responsible for the outbreak of Covid-19. Its rhetoric of blame is often just that – rhetoric.

The communications strategy adopted by green scaremongers is to continually raise questions about the possibility that our neglect of nature has brought Covid-19 down upon us. The more frequently such questions are posed the more likely that their speculation will mutate into a taken-for-granted fact. “Tip of the iceberg: is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?” asks a headline in the Guardian. The manner in which this question is posed invites readers to respond, “quite likely.”

To pose questions about the link to man-made climate change is often presented as the normal response to the crisis. A commentary on Inside Climate News illustrates this rhetorical strategy.

“Now, questions have arisen about whether climate change contributed to the outbreak of Covid-19, whose spread the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Wednesday. For example, did habitat loss, driven in part by climate change, make it easier for pathogens to spread among wildlife and for the virus to jump to humans? Does air pollution, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, make some people more vulnerable to contracting the illness?”

As one question reinforces the next, the reader is encouraged to imagine that in some shape or form, climate change is likely to be connected to the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is almost as if green activists are desperately hoping that someone will come up with a shred of evidence that can be used to prove that one way or another that human-created global warming is responsible for the outbreak. Their interest is far removed from containing the virus’ threat. On the contrary, their narrative takes great delight in using Covid-19 as a weapon to be wielded against environmentally irresponsible people. Statements on this score transmit the message ‘that it is all your fault’. In this vein, Dr Aaaron Bernstein, Interim Director Of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, offers a cautionary tale about the impact of human behaviour on the planet:

“You look at climate change, we have transformed the nature of the Earth. We have fundamentally changed the composition of the atmosphere, and as such, we shouldn’t be surprised that that affects our health. We have, as a species, grown up in partnership with the planet and life we live with. So, when we change the rules of the game, we shouldn’t expect that it wouldn’t affect our health, for better or worse. That’s true of the climate. And the same principle holds for the emergence of infections.”

Bernstein does not provide any arguments for his casual linking of the transformation of the world by humans to the emergence of infections. That’s not the point of his statement. His objective is to morally condemn the very human aspiration to change the world and to imply that we have brought the current global tragedy upon ourselves.

Not so long ago, with the development of science we learned that a disaster, such as a plague or an earthquake, was not caused by mysterious vengeful forces – they were rightly called ‘Acts of Nature’. For the green zealot, disasters are never just Acts of Nature; they are a penalty that humanity pays for seeking to modernize the world.

For green ideologues, the pandemic provides an opportunity to mobilize support for their cause. For us, the flu outbreak constitutes a threat that will be overcome with single minded commitment to the cause of humanity. History shows that – contrary to the green world view – humans are not the problem, they are the solution.


Frank Furedi is an author and social commentator is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 3 Comments

No evidence shows COVID-19 originated in Wuhan: Chinese expert

Press TV – March 18, 2020

China’s leading respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said there is no evidence to prove the origins of COVID-19 were in China, and it is irresponsible to jump to any conclusion now.

Zhong is the head of an expert group of China’s National Health Commission. He also led Chinese medical workers to beat the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes (SARS) back in 2003.

“The COVID-19 epidemic broke out in Wuhan, China, but it doesn’t mean that the disease originated in Wuhan. We don’t have the evidence. This is an issue of science,” said Zhong.

Zhong said the origins can only be found out after adequate research. It is too early to draw any conclusion.

“We can eventually figure out the issue through the approaches of evolution in molecular biology. But it hasn’t been figured out yet. It’s not responsible to jump to a conclusion without getting facts straight. I don’t know its origins yet. I remember I once said at a meeting that the epidemic broke out in China, but we don’t know whether the origins are here or not,” said Zhong.

Zhong also gave his take on herd immunity, saying it is an unreliable solution as there is no evidence of people developing lifelong immunity against the disease after one infection.

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Fresh air, sunlight and improvised face masks seemed to work a century ago; and they might help us now.

By Richard Hobday | March 10, 2020

When new, virulent diseases emerge, such SARS and Covid-19, the race begins to find new vaccines and treatments for those affected. As the current crisis unfolds, governments are enforcing quarantine and isolation, and public gatherings are being discouraged. Health officials took the same approach 100 years ago, when influenza was spreading around the world. The results were mixed. But records from the 1918 pandemic suggest one technique for dealing with influenza — little-known today — was effective. Some hard-won experience from the greatest pandemic in recorded history could help us in the weeks and months ahead.

Influenza patients getting sunlight at the Camp Brooks emergency open-air hospital in Boston. Medical staff were not supposed to remove their masks. (National Archives)

Put simply, medics found that severely ill flu patients nursed outdoors recovered better than those treated indoors. A combination of fresh air and sunlight seems to have prevented deaths among patients; and infections among medical staff.[1] There is scientific support for this. Research shows that outdoor air is a natural disinfectant. Fresh air can kill the flu virus and other harmful germs. Equally, sunlight is germicidal and there is now evidence it can kill the flu virus.

`Open-Air’ Treatment in 1918

During the great pandemic, two of the worst places to be were military barracks and troop-ships. Overcrowding and bad ventilation put soldiers and sailors at high risk of catching influenza and the other infections that often followed it.[2,3] As with the current Covid-19 outbreak, most of the victims of so-called `Spanish flu’ did not die from influenza: they died of pneumonia and other complications.

When the influenza pandemic reached the East coast of the United States in 1918, the city of Boston was particularly badly hit. So the State Guard set up an emergency hospital. They took in the worst cases among sailors on ships in Boston harbour. The hospital’s medical officer had noticed the most seriously ill sailors had been in badly-ventilated spaces. So he gave them as much fresh air as possible by putting them in tents. And in good weather they were taken out of their tents and put in the sun. At this time, it was common practice to put sick soldiers outdoors. Open-air therapy, as it was known, was widely used on casualties from the Western Front. And it became the treatment of choice for another common and often deadly respiratory infection of the time; tuberculosis. Patients were put outside in their beds to breathe fresh outdoor air. Or they were nursed in cross-ventilated wards with the windows open day and night. The open-air regimen remained popular until antibiotics replaced it in the 1950s.

Doctors who had first-hand experience of open-air therapy at the hospital in Boston were convinced the regimen was effective. It was adopted elsewhere. If one report is correct, it reduced deaths among hospital patients from 40 per cent to about 13 per cent.[4] According to the Surgeon General of the Massachusetts State Guard:

`The efficacy of open air treatment has been absolutely proven, and one has only to try it to discover its value.’

Fresh Air is a Disinfectant

Patients treated outdoors were less likely to be exposed to the infectious germs that are often present in conventional hospital wards. They were breathing clean air in what must have been a largely sterile environment. We know this because, in the 1960s, Ministry of Defence scientists proved that fresh air is a natural disinfectant.[5] Something in it, which they called the Open Air Factor, is far more harmful to airborne bacteria — and the influenza virus — than indoor air. They couldn’t identify exactly what the Open Air Factor is. But they found it was effective both at night and during the daytime.

Their research also revealed that the Open Air Factor’s disinfecting powers can be preserved in enclosures — if ventilation rates are kept high enough. Significantly, the rates they identified are the same ones that cross-ventilated hospital wards, with high ceilings and big windows, were designed for.[6] But by the time the scientists made their discoveries, antibiotic therapy had replaced open-air treatment. Since then the germicidal effects of fresh air have not featured in infection control, or hospital design. Yet harmful bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Sunlight and Influenza Infection

Putting infected patients out in the sun may have helped because it inactivates the influenza virus.[7] It also kills bacteria that cause lung and other infections in hospitals.[8] During the First World War, military surgeons routinely used sunlight to heal infected wounds.[9] They knew it was a disinfectant. What they didn’t know is that one advantage of placing patients outside in the sun is they can synthesise vitamin D in their skin if sunlight is strong enough. This was not discovered until the 1920s. Low vitamin D levels are now linked to respiratory infections and may increase susceptibility to influenza.[10] Also, our body’s biological rhythms appear to influence how we resist infections.[11] New research suggests they can alter our inflammatory response to the flu virus.[12] As with vitamin D, at the time of the 1918 pandemic, the important part played by sunlight in synchronizing these rhythms was not known.

Face Masks Coronavirus and Flu

Surgical masks are currently in short supply in China and elsewhere. They were worn 100 years ago, during the great pandemic, to try and stop the influenza virus spreading. While surgical masks may offer some protection from infection they do not seal around the face. So they don’t filter out small airborne particles. In 1918, anyone at the emergency hospital in Boston who had contact with patients had to wear an improvised face mask. This comprised five layers of gauze fitted to a wire frame which covered the nose and mouth. The frame was shaped to fit the face of the wearer and prevent the gauze filter touching the mouth and nostrils. The masks were replaced every two hours; properly sterilized and with fresh gauze put on. They were a forerunner of the N95 respirators in use in hospitals today to protect medical staff against airborne infection.

Temporary Hospitals

Staff at the hospital kept up high standards of personal and environmental hygiene. No doubt this played a big part in the relatively low rates of infection and deaths reported there. The speed with which their hospital and other temporary open-air facilities were erected to cope with the surge in pneumonia patients was another factor. Today, many countries are not prepared for a severe influenza pandemic.[13] Their health services will be overwhelmed if there is one. Vaccines and antiviral drugs might help. Antibiotics may be effective for pneumonia and other complications. But much of the world’s population will not have access to them. If another 1918 comes, or the Covid-19 crisis gets worse, history suggests it might be prudent to have tents and pre-fabricated wards ready to deal with large numbers of seriously ill cases. Plenty of fresh air and a little sunlight might help too.

References

  1. Hobday RA and Cason JW. The open-air treatment of pandemic influenza. Am J Public Health 2009;99 Suppl 2:S236–42. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.134627.
  2. Aligne CA. Overcrowding and mortality during the influenza pandemic of 1918. Am J Public Health 2016 Apr;106(4):642–4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.303018.
  3. Summers JA, Wilson N, Baker MG, Shanks GD. Mortality risk factors for pandemic influenza on New Zealand troop ship, 1918. Emerg Infect Dis 2010 Dec;16(12):1931–7. doi:10.3201/eid1612.100429.
  4. Anon. Weapons against influenza. Am J Public Health 1918 Oct;8(10):787–8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.8.10.787.
  5. May KP, Druett HA. A micro-thread technique for studying the viability of microbes in a simulated airborne state. J Gen Micro-biol 1968;51:353e66. Doi: 10.1099/00221287–51–3–353.
  6. Hobday RA. The open-air factor and infection control. J Hosp Infect 2019;103:e23-e24 doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2019.04.003.
  7. Schuit M, Gardner S, Wood S et al. The influence of simulated sunlight on the inactivation of influenza virus in aerosols. J Infect Dis 2020 Jan 14;221(3):372–378. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz582.
  8. Hobday RA, Dancer SJ. Roles of sunlight and natural ventilation for controlling infection: historical and current perspectives. J Hosp Infect 2013;84:271–282. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2013.04.011.
  9. Hobday RA. Sunlight therapy and solar architecture. Med Hist 1997 Oct;41(4):455–72. doi:10.1017/s0025727300063043.
  10. Gruber-Bzura BM. Vitamin D and influenza-prevention or therapy? Int J Mol Sci 2018 Aug 16;19(8). pii: E2419. doi: 10.3390/ijms19082419.
  11. Costantini C, Renga G, Sellitto F, et al. Microbes in the era of circadian medicine. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020 Feb 5;10:30. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.00030.
  12. Sengupta S, Tang SY, Devine JC et al. Circadian control of lung inflammation in influenza infection. Nat Commun 2019 Sep 11;10(1):4107. doi: 10.1038/s41467–019–11400–9.
  13. Jester BJ, Uyeki TM, Patel A, Koonin L, Jernigan DB. 100 Years of medical countermeasures and pandemic influenza preparedness. Am J Public Health. 2018 Nov;108(11):1469–1472. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304586.

Dr. Richard Hobday, an internationally recognised authority on health in the built environment, is an independent researcher working in the fields of infection control, public health and building design. He is the author of `The Healing Sun’.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Wash Your Hands—but Beware the Electric Hand Dryer

“Electric towels” were supposed to prevent the spread of contagious disease. What if they’ve been doing the opposite?

By Tom Bartlett | Wired | 03.06.2020

The spread of Covid-19 has turned us into a nation of hand-washing obsessives, citizens who vigorously interlace our fingers and circle-scrub our thumbs with an exacting, anxiety-fueled intensity. But it’s not over when you flip off the faucet: Drying your hands matters too, because damp skin provides a hospitable environment for microorganisms and, as a result, might increase the likelihood that you’ll pass on pathogens.

So now, as we confront what could be a society-altering disease outbreak, it seems worth taking a hard look at the widely reviled yet seemingly ubiquitous electric hand dryer. Are they as hygienic as paper towels, as their manufacturers claim?

The earliest pitches for hand dryers played up their supposed ability when it comes to “preventing the spread of contagious disease,” as a 1924 newspaper ad for the Airdry Electric Towel put it. More recently, Dyson, whose Airblade hand dryer promises to “scrape water from hands like a windshield wiper,” has bragged that its HEPA air filter captures particles as tiny as .3 microns in diameter, much like the N95 face masks that are now selling for AirPod Pro–equivalent prices on Amazon.

But the quality of the intake filter doesn’t address whether blowing air at high speeds is a smart idea given that it may be sending droplets and particles from your just-washed hands flying rapidly every which way. When you dig into the science on hand dryers, you’ll come across reason to be concerned. A study published in 1989 found that gentler, old-style hand dryers blew bacteria over a three-foot radius and onto the user’s clothes, which considering the era was probably an acid-washed jean jacket.

A 2018 study produced even more troubling results, finding that “potential pathogens and spores” could be “dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers.” It tested conventional hot-air models with and without filters and determined that the filters “most likely reduce the number of potentially pathogenic bacteria with the potential to colonize hands but do not eliminate the risk entirely.” A 2015 study found that super-aggro hand-dryers like the ones made by Dyson, which use higher-speed jets of air at room temperature, “produced significantly greater aerosolization of virus on the hands” than the traditional kind. Paper towels, meanwhile, were found to cause about the same amount of viral spread as hot-air models.

A 2012 analysis of 12 studies over four decades published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded that “[f]rom a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers” and that they should be used in “locations in which hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics.” Though it could be argued that hygiene should be paramount in the restroom of, say, your neighborhood Panera Bread, too. The analysis did find that dryers like Dyson’s “led to much less bacterial transfer than hot air dryers.”

So does that tell us anything about whether hand dryers could spread a virus like the one that causes Covid-19? I called Peter Setlow, a biochemist at the University of Connecticut and one of the authors of that 2018 study. Setlow is a “spore guy” not an infectious disease expert, but he nonetheless came away from that research with a deep and abiding distrust of hand dryers regardless of the model. “Sorry, hand-dryer industry,” he told me. “My personal opinion is that they shouldn’t be used.”

There’s been understandable blowback from the hand-dryer industry, which questions the methodology of some of this research and notes that certain studies pegging hand dryers as disease vectors—including the one cited above, from 2015—were carried out by researchers who had worked as consultants for paper-towel manufacturers. This is true in some, though not all, cases. Dyson got in on the game by funding a study, published last April, that found—surprise!—hands dried with the company’s own Airblade harbored fewer bacteria than those dried with paper towels.

There’s reason to be skeptical of last year’s paper. In the study, subjects “slowly” moved their hands in and out of the machine for a full minute, something no normal human is ever going to do. Besides, Dyson says elsewhere that the model dries hands satisfactorily in a mere 12 seconds, so which is it? More importantly, that study only looked at the bacteria left behind on hands post-drying, not whether particles might have been blown onto your clothes.

It’s not just a matter of public health: There are fortunes at stake in the science war between the paper-towel and hand-dryer industries. Multifold paper towels, the kind commonly used in bathrooms, are a several-billion-dollar-a-year behemoth, and one recent estimate of the global market for hand dryers puts the number at a shade under $800 million, and growing. This is big money and obviously no company wants their products to be viewed as more likely to make people sick. Dyson has made the case that, while other brands of hand dryers might spread disease, its products are perfectly safe even in hospitals. Karen Holeyman, lead research scientist and microbiologist at Dyson, also notes via email that “Dyson Airblade™ hand dryers are proven hygienic,” and referred to its HEPA air filter.

Yet it’s hard to read the scientific papers without concluding that, well, paper is the way to go. If the science seems to lean in that direction, though, why have electric dryers continued to claim more and more tiled territory? For starters, they do have undeniable upsides. Unlike paper towels, hand dryers don’t create waste and they’re drastically cheaper over time. The annual cost for paper towels in a public restroom can easily top a thousand dollars, while the electricity required to run a hand dryer costs about a fifth of that, according to one estimate.

But focusing on paper towel prices seems a little ridiculous when epidemiologists are calculating death rates. We’re at a moment when hand-washing must be taken very seriously. The same is true for hand-drying. Electric hand dryers appear to be a modern, more responsible solution to an everyday problem—but one that may not live up to its billing.

March 15, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | 3 Comments

Like Polar Bears, Coral Reefs Are Doing Fine

By Dr. Jay Lehr ~ PA Pundits ~ March 15, 2020

Corals are animals, actually closely related to jelly fish but of course differing in that they have a limestone skeleton made up of calcium carbonate. Their growth rates can be studied to give us knowledge of the ocean and its sea level over thousands of years.

They have lived throughout the oceans of our planet for many thousand years. Over those many years they have experienced both much warmer and much colder periods of geologic time. The bleaching that they have experienced in the view of many climate alarmists is not a sign of their destruction or in fact ill health. It is not a sign that the end of the world as we know it is in sight.

The simple truth is that when a coral experiences any number of environmental changes which could be the chemistry of its surrounding water or its local temperature, the algae that inhabit and feed a coral are likely to find the environment less suitable and leave for greener pastures.

The change in color of the coral which alarmists call “bleaching” is a result of one group of bacteria leaving and then another group of bacteria taking its place. When the first resident group is leaving the coral becomes whiter and as a new group moves in the coral takes on a new color. This new color is often mistaken as the corals death nell. The algae that moves in not only provides it a new color but is also the corals source of the food it needs to live.

While the Polar Bear has been the face of the global warming delusion, coral reefs have been close behind as an animal that will eventually go extinct if we do not stop using fossil fuels, emitting carbon dioxide and warming the planet, its atmosphere and its oceans. The reality is anything but that.

The Great Barrier Reef, stretching 1400 miles along the coast of Queensland, Australia is also a prominent “poster child” for the supposed damage mankind is doing to our Earth. It is actually composed of nearly 3000 separate coral reefs, can be seen from space and is perhaps Australia’s greatest tourist attraction. It’s ultimate destruction by man-caused global warming (now called Climate Change of course), is used regularly to pull at the heartstrings of those who sadly buy into the delusion.

In fact, it is probable that no reef has received greater scrutiny, and been the subject of more research than the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), especially since the clamor to save it hit warp speed.

The late Robert M. Carter, Emeritus Fellow of the Australian Institute of Public Affairs, who was considered the world’s leading expert on the reef, wrote extensively about it in Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts. He explained that to quantify the trend in live coral cover of the GBR between 1995 and 2009, which the International Panel on Climate Change contends was the warmest decade and a half experienced by the planet in the past thousand years, annual surveys were performed. Marine biologists surveyed coastal communities each year on 47 reefs in six latitudes across about 700 miles of the GBR. They took samples at varying depths between 20 and 30 feet.

They found that coral cover increased in about half the regions and decreased in the other half as one would expect when nature operates without human intervention. Overall they concluded that coral cover was stable and that there was no evidence of “consistent system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995”.

Other research throughout the world has confirmed that corals are capable of reproductive activities under extreme environmental conditions. There is now a growing body of evidence to support the notion that corals inhabiting more thermally unstable habitats outperform reefs characterized by more stable temperatures.

In sum and a little more erudite: coral bleaching is an adaptive strategy for shuffling symbiont genotypes to create associations better adapted to new environmental conditions, as opposed to a breakdown of stable relationships that serves as a symptom of degenerating environmental conditions.

In the words of the late Robert Carter “the Great Barrier Reef is in fine fettle.”

NOTE: Portions of this article were excerpted from the excellent book Climate Change A Convenient Truth with permission of the author Jim Hollingsworth. His book is highly recommended for its brief treatment of the many issues misunderstood by the general public.

Dr Jay Lehr contributes posts at the CFACT site. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition, and he is the author of more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books.

March 15, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | 1 Comment

Regarding Ignoramuses in Academe

By Bill Willers | Dissident Voice | March 15, 2020

Condemnation before investigation is the height of ignorance” – widely attributed to Albert Einstein, but whoever the author was had it right. [William Paley]

A peer-reviewed journal, Alternatives, recently published an article, “9/11 Truth and the Silence of the IR Discipline,” by David Hughes, a faculty member at the University of Lincoln in the UK. The article is very well written and may be the single best succinct summation of 9/11 history available. “IR” refers to the academic study of international relations, so the sad fact that scholars who pursue such a discipline have failed to be attentive to the multiple lies within the official narrative of 9/11 is brimming with irony because, as Hughes states, international relations is “… the one discipline that should be most conversant with false flag terrorism and the ‘War on Terror.’” The article cites the 9/11 Consensus Panel, the results of the 4-year independent study of the collapse of WTC7, and the developing Federal Grand Jury Investigation, all involving scientists, scholars and attorneys with impeccable credentials.

Some university faculty members of the “IR Community”, presumably in good standing with their peers, have reacted (via tweets) in a manner wildly inconsistent with academic standards. One Nicholas Kitchen of the University of Surrey, tweeted, with regard to the article, “I think it’s OK for me to reveal that I was asked — and declined — to review it. Had I done so, I would certainly have rejected it…. But editors are, I would suggest, the bigger issue here. This should never have gone out to peer review. Any serious academic — as journal editors must be — can see this is the worst kind of conspiracy theorizing in only minimal academic dress.”

Calling anything “conspiracy theorizing” shows Kitchen uninformed regarding the CIA origin of the epithet, intended to belittle and to shut down rational discussion. But attacking an editor for sending an article out for peer review is seriously witless. Consider not only the sterling credentials of those in the Consensus Panel and the engineering study cited within the article, but also that among the countless individuals who have disparaged the governmental narrative so as to qualify in Kitchen’s mind as “conspiracy theorists” include Dr. Robert Bowman, head of the “Star Wars” program under two presidents; Francesco Cossiga, former president of Italy; Dr. Alan Sabrosky, former Director of Studies at the U.S. Army War College; Andreas von Bulow, former Secretary of Germany’s Federal Defense Ministry; General Leonid Ivanshov, former Chief of Staff of Russian’s Armed Forces; Ronald D. Ray, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration, and hundreds more of like credibility and authority.

Kitchen represents an embarrassing lack of critical thinking and a shameful negation of the academic, investigative spirit. And he’s not alone. Emmett MacFarlane, of the University of Waterloo, tweeted “[T]he 9/11 piece is the publication of disinformation. It is a complete failure of the peer review process …. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of the journal’s editorial/advisory board repudiate it or resign. I can’t believe anyone would willingly continue to associate themselves with the journal so long as that piece goes unrestricted.” Jennifer Mustapha of California’s Western University of Health Sciences was less delicate: “It is a steaming pile of hot garbage and I’m pretty f*****g mad about it. Can reassure you that basically all of the critical IR peeps I know are as flabbergasted as me and you. It is a disgrace.” Nour Halabi of the University of Leeds wrote “Unless this so-called article peddling 9/11 conspiracy theories is recalled, I will never publish with Sage again. I call on other academics to join me, truthers and conspiracy theorists have no place in academia and in any of our publication [sic].”

Charges of “conspiracy theorizing”, “publication of disinformation”, “steaming pile of hot garbage”? A doctoral level professor wants to to “restrict” an article on a subject obviously suppressed by every aspect of governmental and mainstream media? Good lord, what understanding of freedom of inquiry exists within circles of “IR”? There have been so many attacks on members of the editorial board that the head editor, Lacin Idil Oztig, posted a request that the attacks cease, taking it upon herself to assume sole editorial responsibility for the article. But why should she, or anyone on the board, apologize for anything? Author Hughes has proper citations – well over 100 – for every aspect of his paper.

Hughes hits hard with his charge that silence from those who should be speaking up is “… uncritically lending intellectual legitimation to the official narrative and thus the ‘War on Terror’ and obediently serving Western state power.” Hughes also cites fellow scholar Kees Van der Pijl: “By selling out to the self-fulfilling fiction of Islamic terrorism, the discipline if IR today has itself largely degenerated into a mercenary, ‘embedded’ auxiliary force…. A discipline led by scholars of this moral calibre cannot be expected to restore its intellectual integrity.” Such a level of scorn aimed at a segment of the academic community is not seen often, but in the case of the IR scholars cited, it is certainly deserved.

It’s one thing for someone in the academy to avoid confronting a given issue, but it’s something radically different to attack those who do make the effort to study an issue studiously avoided by the mainstream, and to look into possible reasons for that avoidance. The article is excellent, well written, and the first part is a superbly compacted and up-to-date review of 9/11 (the remainder dealing with reasons for failure to confront the lies of 9/11). The condemnation of author and editor has yielded a posting by blogger Tim Hayward, Peer Review vs Trial by Twitter, in which he invites — and receives — comments from readers. Many are from university faculty, and much of the commentary is an indictment of the academic community for its long silence on a taboo subject.

But no truth-seeking scholar with integrity would be deterred by taboo. The disgraceful attack by the tweeting professors is a textbook example of condemnation before investigation. The four, and fellow academics who followed them with similar slurs, display a rigidity of mind and a noxious commitment to official group think. They are beyond merely out of line. They represent a plague on freedom of scholarly inquiry and should be outed as the intellectual pariahs that they are.

Bill Willers is an emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. He is founder of the Superior Wilderness Action Network and editor of Learning to Listen to the Land, and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press. He can be contacted at willers@uwosh.edu.

March 15, 2020 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments