This is a response to components of Russell Blaylock’s anti-mask article, with titles ranging from “Face Masks Pose Serious Risks To The Healthy” or “Face Masks Can Be Deadly To Healthy People Says Neurologist“
Who is Russell Blaylock? He’s not an epidemiologist, but a neurosurgeon with an expired medical license who make his living on books promoting contrarian views and debunked claims, using “scare mongering for profit”. 1, 2, 3
This article compares his views to those of actual experts who render his points either false or irrelevant.
(1) Blaylock on cloth face coverings: “None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection”
Response: Irrelevant. Certain medical grade masks will stop higher percent (N95 for 95% or N99 for higher). The key word seems to be “conclusive,” so I agree. Nobody is claiming that cloth masks offer much in way of protection. The goal is not protection, but prevention of spread of pre-symptomatic and symptomatic.
(2) Blaylock on studies: “Keep in mind, no studies have been done to demonstrate that either a cloth mask or the N95 mask has any effect on transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”
Response: False. There are “34 scientific papers indicating basic masks can be effective in reducing virus transmission in public — and not a single paper that shows clear evidence that they cannot.” –The Washington Post There are 84 references, linked from https://masks4all.co/the-science-masks4all/ The Science Behind Why Masks Limit COVID-19 Spread #Masks4AllThe scientific and expert consensus is clear: masks limit the spread of COVID-19. Here’s an in-depth explanation of why at www.masks4all.co
(3) Blaylock on CDC change: “It is also instructive to know that until recently, the CDC did not recommend wearing a face mask or covering of any kind, unless a person was known to be infected, that is, until recently.”
Response: Irrelevant. There are two reasons for this. CDC was taking cues from WHO that COVID-19 was not transmitted via air. Evidence came out in Feb/March that caused them to change course. A second reason is that even if they did suspect airborne transmission, they were very busy prioritizing getting masks to healthcare workers, because the US was wiped out of its supply by those who send masks and PPE to China, which is triple our population. This explains more.
(4) Blaylock says “Non-infected people need not wear a mask”
Response: False The problem is, its impossible to know who is infected. “We know that at least 44% of all infections–and the majority of community-acquired transmissions–occur from people without any symptoms (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people). You can be shedding the virus into the environment for up to 5 days before symptoms begin.” 1
(5) Blaylock then says “significant problems with wearing such a mask. This can vary from headaches, to increased airway resistance, carbon dioxide accumulation, to hypoxia, all the way to serious life-threatening complications.”
Response (for surgical masks): Mostly False. Blaylock’s references only apply to medical grade N-95 masks, which are not even advised for church use. Blaylock’s reference here does not apply to homemade cloth masks, which are advised for church use.
When he claims an N95 mask causing hypoxia, that is a condition in which the tissues of the body are starved of oxygen. I don’t think that will happen with a cloth masks for 90 minutes during a church service. Dr. Abrar Ahmad Chughtai, an epidemiologist and lecturer at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at University of New South Wales Australia, says the risk of hypoxia and hypercapnia are unlikely to take place with cloth and surgical masks, because they are not tight-fitting. Dr. Chughtai also says “Some people with pre-existing respiratory illnesses (like asthma, COPD), may face breathing difficulty with use of certain types of tight fitted masks, called respirators. [There is] less chance of hypoxia as they may discontinue using masks in that case. Risk is very low with cloth and surgical masks as they are not tight around [the] face.” He also argued that in the case of prolonged usage of any of these masks, “Dizziness [was] less likely, but fatigue may occur.” 1 Dr. Blaylock also lists cancer patients would have complications with masks.
Response (for cloth DIY masks): Irrelevant. Blaylock’s point only applies to medical grade N-95 masks, and does not apply to homemade cloth masks.
Also, the Center for Disease Control is in favor of vulnerable people not being in church buildings during services with singing. CDC says regarding cloth face coverings that “Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.” CDC on DIY face coverings.
If someone is uncomfortable wearing a cloth mask, then they should limit their exposure to being around people from other households, especially for indoor singing events. A church should provide a non-singing room for that person, and let that person view the livestream.