Stop 20 COVID illnesses by hassling 178,322 people

“Revisiting the Bangladesh Mask RCT” covers the one “gold standard” paper looking at the question of whether ordering the general public to wear masks has any effect on coronaplague. The previously touted conclusions were that cloth masks were useless, but that ordering everyone to wear surgical masks could reduce plague by 11 percent. “Revisiting the Bangladesh Mask RCT” gives us some actual numbers:

In the Bangladesh Mask RCT, there were nC=163,861 individuals from 300 villages in the control group. There were nT=178,322 individuals from 300 villages in the intervention group. The main end point of the study was whether their intervention reduced the number of individuals who both reported covid-like symptoms and tested seropositive at some point during the trial. The number of such individuals appears nowhere in their paper, and one has to compute this from the data they kindly provided: There were iC=1,106 symptomatic individuals confirmed seropositive in the control group and iT=1,086 such individuals in the treatment group. The difference between the two groups was small: only 20 cases out of over 340,000 individuals over a span of 8 weeks.

If we assume that the authors got everything right, and this isn’t simply statistical noise, we’re left with the result that 178,322 poor souls had to be hassled by pubic health Karens in order to eliminate roughly 20 cases of COVID-19 (to be completely fair, a little more than that since the treatment group was larger).

Related (predictions of #Science versus outcomes, albeit not randomized controlled trials):

Motivation to visit Bangladesh:

22 thoughts on “Stop 20 COVID illnesses by hassling 178,322 people

  1. It’s all worth it it if it saves just one life! But only for covid. Same rules don’t apply for aids, alcohol, smoking, obesity, etc.

    • Smoking, alcohol and obesity are not transmissible. Nevertheless, “rules” most certainly have been put in place to address the effects of those activities and conditions which have impacts beyond the individual. In an affront to liberty, children can’t even buy tobacco or alcohol! Smoking in public places was outlawed starting in the 90’s. Driving drunk is illegal and comes with severe legal consequences. As for AIDS, many professions have adopted precautions/rules to address the transmission risks.

    • @Senorpablo, smoking, alcohol, obesity, drugs, laziness and bad behaviors to name some ARE transmissible. A household with any of those bad habits will yelled, generation after generation, kids and families with the same bad habits and spread it to their next door neighbors and community.

      And your statement that children cannot buy tobacco or alcohol, is so false. Sure, a respected store will not sell tobacco or alcohol without checking for ID, but there are stores that don’t care or the buyer knows the clerk and get around it. And if that’s not enough, there is usually enough tobacco and alcohol at home for the underage to enjoy (i.e.: steal).

    • Wait, vaccine mandates and passports are about protecting _others_? I thought forcing Joe to get vaccinated in order to get a job or go out to eat was about protecting Joe, not about protecting others. How does Joe being vaccinated protect Sally? We all know that the pandemic is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” since if Sally is vaccinated she is protected regardless of whether or not Joe is vaccinated.

      So if we can mandate Joe to get vaccinated in order to keep him out of the hospital and filling beds that should be left for the righteous, then why can we not mandate that Sally lose 20 pounds this winter in order to keep her job? Why should we not?

    • Senorpablo simply refuses to believe Harvard, #Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the New York Times. Obesity, of course, IS contagious, which is the only reasonable explanation for how so many Americans became “people with obesity” at roughly the same time.

      (note the hate-filled URL, not consistent with the language promulgated in )

      Shocking that we have a #Science-denier in our midst!

    • Senorpablo: If anyone would make a fraction of Deplorable/Covidiot comments about the groups most affected by AIDS, he/she/ze/they would be removed from public life and have his/her/zir/hir/their bank accounts frozen and cancelled.

      LGBTQQ (2S and IA would be unfair here) control a large chunk of the censoring and moderating parts of the Internet (mind you, not the technology itself, just the parts that socially naive programmers and creators have handed over to them). LGBTQQ controls code of conduct committees and the reputations of the productive part of software engineers.
      Is the heavy handed Covid-censoring on social media, video platforms etc. a consequence of the fact that immunocompromised people are a high risk group?

  2. In US schools, the unmasked had 2-3.5x more infections. That’s considerable, especially if you consider that transmission is exponential. 2x can turn to 4x, then 16x, etc. If you consider that the entire school needs to be shut down at some relatively low threshold, removing every child from the precious in-person learning experience that anti-maskers tell us is paramount, the disruption rate hits a cliff quickly. For those reasons, masks would seem to be a very effective tool. Especially if one weighs the downsides to mask wearing, which I would argue are insignificant by comparison. How many American’s have died of CO2 poisoning due to masking?

    • Senorpablo, you are a big fat dumb dumb! Just remember what Obama used to say. If you like wearing your mask you can keep wearing your mask.

    • Senorpablo: “the entire school needs to be shut down at some relatively low threshold”? It is scientifically inevitable that learning must stop once a few youngsters are infected with SARS-CoV-2? How did Sweden then manage to continuously run its schools (with no masks and, presumably, plenty of infections)? (see ; there were no deaths among school-age children during the study period)

      #Science proves that masks in schools reduce infections? Maybe!

      At the end of May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a notable, yet mostly ignored, large-scale study of COVID transmission in American schools. A few major news outlets covered its release by briefly reiterating the study’s summary: that masking then-unvaccinated teachers and improving ventilation with more fresh air were associated with a lower incidence of the virus in schools. Those are common-sense measures, and the fact that they seem to work is reassuring but not surprising. Other findings of equal importance in the study, however, were absent from the summary and not widely reported. These findings cast doubt on the impact of many of the most common mitigation measures in American schools. Distancing, hybrid models, classroom barriers, HEPA filters, and, most notably, requiring student masking were each found to not have a statistically significant benefit. In other words, these measures could not be said to be effective.

    • Philip, what is your take on Florida now having the least rate of coronavirus infections in the USA?

    • LSI: I would love to be able to say that what the Covidcrats would characterize as Florida’s “success” (if Covidcrats didn’t hate Florida) is due to the righteousness and #science-following intelligence of Floridians. But, as a Church of Sweden member, I deny that humans have a significant impact on the spread of aerosol respiratory viruses. So I must fall back on (1) we don’t understand why SARS-CoV-2 is seasonal, just as we don’t know why influenza is seasonal, despite centuries of study, and (2)'s_laws (i.e., the virus ran out of hosts after its big August wave in FL)

      All that I do know is that, assuming no change in state government, no matter what variants arrive in Florida and no matter how bad the next wave of coronaplague is, the schools will still be open!

    • Philg – Thankfully the American obesity epidemic seems to be mostly contained to our borders so the rest of the world won’t have to enact travel bans based on mandatory BMI testing. Perhaps we should start food restrictions on the southern US states which seem to have it the worst. Or, perhaps a tax from the Federales!

    • Senorpablo-

      You can’t restrict food in the Southern states because we have the highest per capita black population. That would be racist.

    • Philg, interesting how northern fully masked almost fully vaccinated states that have had highest infection rates seem never run out of covid hosts.

  3. Thanks for posting. I work in health promotion and have worked on several COVID-19 responses, including in Bangladesh (but not in the study areas), and I thought I would offer some thoughts:

    First, it is important to keep in mind that this study is not about the effectiveness of masks or enforced mask mandates, which seems to be your topic of interest. It is about the effectiveness of certain mask promotion interventions at improving voluntary mask usage, and what that means in terms of reducing sympomatic seropositivity. Your post and Mr. Recht’s analysis seem to assume that the intervention group was required to wear masks, which was not the case.

    Also, the original study contains plenty of numbers and context. All factors considered, the estimated reduction in symptomatic seropositives is 352, not 20. If you assume a case-fatility ratio of 1.0% for confirmed COVID-19 cases (one of the more conservative assumptions), the study intervention saves 3-4 lives just in study group. Again, that is through voluntary masking following various active mask promotion interventions, not an enforced mask mandate.

    Those results say nothing about the livelihoods improved by those who would recover but suffer lingering and sometimes permanent effects of “long COVID”, which is estimated to affect 4-80% of symptomatic cases (a more reliable range would be 20-50%, but that will be refined with time as we learn more). We’re talking hundreds of lives improved just in the study group, and that’s to say nothing of non-COVID respiratory illnesses.

    This also says nothing of the number of COVID mutations (which can lead to new variants) that did not happen as a result of this voluntary intervention. Reducing the number of cases is not just about reducing the number of deaths, even if that’s what everyone wants to talk about – the fewer infections we have, the fewer mutations we’ll have, and the less likely it is that potentially dangerous (more contagious, more severe, or more vaccine-jumping) variants will evolve. From a public health perspective, we’re very concerned about mutations.

    This study provides valuable information about (1) which interventions might be more effective at promoting voluntary mask usage and (2) which types of masks might be more useful for distribution, but it does not say anything about the effectiveness of enforced mask mandates. Presumably an enforced mask mandate would be more effective, however unpopular it might be, but masking altogether would of course be less necessary if we could get those vaccination numbers up!

    Thanks again for posting, and best wishes.

    • KF: Thanks for your thoughtful contribution. With a world population of 8 billion and SARS-CoV-2 now found to infect a variety of abundant animals, e.g., deer, how can it be realistic to imagine that we are limiting the virus’s ability to mutate? Even if vaccines and masks prevented infection altogether, isn’t there an ample supply of unvaccinated and/or unmasked hosts worldwide for our new nemesis?

      The Omicron variant’s success in Europe can, I think, be directly attributed to faith in masks and vaccines. The Europeans generally have faith in the Church of Shutdown and its associated vaccine and mask rituals. Thus, they felt comfortable opening their borders to travelers from Africa where, we are informed, this latest successful variant was circulating.

  4. In London, UK, my kids in Nursery and Year 1 are not required to wear masks in school. Neither of their classes have been required to close this school year due to covid.

    Throughout the pandemic, I think a few very small groups of students in other years at their school were affected and had to get tested. Pretty much a nothing burger. Covid certainly did not run rampant through this group of 5 to 11 year olds as a result of their time in class.

    Now, about that regular cold I have acquired from my children….

    • The vax-your-kid commercials running daily on the radio here start off by saying “My child is not just a statistic” followed by saying hospitalizations for kids with COVID have tripled. They don’t give the actual numbers, apparently a sly way to scare people into getting their children vaccinated.

      My understanding is that the “scientific” reason to vaccinate kids is to protect other people, not the kids. They won’t say this on the commercial. Healthy kids are basically no-risk with COVID. But they won’t say this on the commercials wither because it doesn’t scare people into vaccinating their kids. I think there are a lot of understandably skeptical parents out there who sense the dishonest pro-vax compaign.

      I’m also unaware of any evidence that the unvaccinated caused mutations, but that’s also religiously touted as “science” by many, many people.

    • Sam: You’d think that it would be the vaccinated and masked who cause mutations, actually. The original non-Chinese SARS-CoV-2 was apparently well-adapted to thriving in crowded unmasked un-locked-down human populations (the virus thanks us for breeding 8 billion hosts worldwide!). The virus didn’t need to do anything to survive and spread all around the world. By contrast, the more that humans change, e.g., by getting vaccinated, by donning face rags, by staying home, the more that the virus will need to change.

      Consider a virus that thrives only in a saliva-soaked cloth face rag. It couldn’t have been successful prior to March 2020. Today, such a virus would be a big hit among virtuous adults and among schoolchildren under the boot of local Covidcrats.

  5. Hello Phil,
    Long time lurker, first time commenter. Thanks for the interesting and entertaining blog. Regarding this post, I thought the “pubic health karens” were more concerned about other epidemics, though the mask/condom analogy is clear I suppose. Cheers,

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