Almost two decades ago, retailers in New South Wales were threatened with significant fines if found to be exploiting community fears about SARS by exaggerating the health benefits of surgical face masks.
An article published by the Sydney Morning Herald on April 27, 2003, titled, Farce mask: It’s safe for only 20 minutes, cited then NSW Fair Trading Minister Reba Meagher who warned that distributors and traders could be prosecuted for suggesting masks offer unrealistic levels of protection from the disease.
“I’m sure everyone would agree that it is un-Australian to profiteer from people’s fears and anxieties,” Meagher said at the time.
“There appears to be some debate about whether surgical masks are able to minimise the effects of SARS.”
Meagher said her department would investigate any complaints about false mask claims, noting that penalties could range from fines of up to $22,000 for an individual or $110,000 for a corporation.
The piece also cited Professor Yvonne Cossart of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney, who said the masks are only effective so long as they are dry.
“As soon as they become saturated with the moisture in your breath, they stop doing their job and pass on the droplets.”
Professor Cossart said the masks can become ineffective in as little as 15 to 20 minutes, after which the mask would need to be changed.
The science, which we’ve so often been admonished for questioning on these matters, has shifted numerous times during the course of the current “pandemic,” with Dr Anthony Fauci, the World Health Organization, and the mainstream media being among the worst offenders.
Of course, some will argue that the science behind masks has become clearer and more robust over the course of the pandemic, so understandably, the science that must not be questioned will appear, at times, to flip flop as new data is obtained.
Just this week we saw CNN’s Medical Analyst, Dr Leana Wen, admitting cloth masks are not an appropriate defense against Covid in all its variant forms.
“Cloth masks are not appropriate for this pandemic,” she said.
“It’s not appropriate for Omicron. It was not appropriate for Delta, Alpha, or any of the previous variants either because we’re dealing with something that’s airborne.”
In other words, for the good part of two years a significant portion of the population has been walking around effectively maskless, satisfying mask mandates with, what Dr Wen has described as, mere “facial decorations.”
Dr Wen said for face masks to have any effectiveness against an airborne virus, people should, at the very least, wear 3-ply surgical masks, or ideally in her opinion, “N95 or KN95” face respirators.
That is, until the unquestionable science says otherwise.