Joe Biden is not only big on masks. He clearly views them as a super-weapon against the CCP Virus.
At last week’s final presidential debate, the Democratic candidate said “The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year. If we just wore these masks, the president’s own advisors have told him, we can save a 100,000 lives.”
So it seems he believes that masks can cut forecast upcoming fatalities by 50 percent – no doubt why he also declared that “What I would do is make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time.”
The former Vice President is also clearly a believer in what I like to call “The Science” – apparently believing that there’s a strong consensus among the relevant medical authorities (i.e., not your family GP, or brain surgeons, or others in the healthcare field not specializing in epidemiology or respiratory diseases) on all anti-virus efforts and strategies, including on the power of mask-wearing.
So I found myself decidedly amazed this morning upon listening to Scott Gottlieb‘s take on the matter. Although he served as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Trump, Gottlieb (an M.D., but an internist,by the way) has been a leading critic of the Trump anti-CCP Virus policies. And that’s fair enough. By the same token, however, it’s noteworthy that he came out with a distinctly non-Biden-y take on masks’ effectiveness.
When asked during his latest weekly Face the Nation appearance by host Margaret Brennan (who cited a claim by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that “masks are the best plan for the moment”) to “Walk us through what the safest masks are,” here was Gottlieb’s response:
“Remember the masks serve two purposes. One is to protect other people from you, so if you’re asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, if you have a mask on, you’re less likely to expel respiratory droplets that can affect other people. The other purpose is to provide you some measure of protection if in fact you’re around people who are infected. So if you want a mask to afford you some protection from other people, quality matters. A cloth mask may be 10 percent to 30 percent protective. A surgical mask, a Level Two or Level Three surgical mask, procedure mask, may be about 60 percent effective. An N-95 mask or equivalent, like a KN-95 mask, which is the Chinese equivalent, or what we call an FFP 2 mask, which is the European equivalent to an N-95 – that could be 90, 95 percent protective. So if you want a mask to afford you a level of protection, wear a higher quality mask. If you can only get a cloth mask, thickness matters, and cloth masks with polyester in them, that combination of polyester and cotton, do better.”
He did add that “A national mask mandate could be put into place,” but also stated that, “It doesn’t need to be backed up with fines or stringent enforcement. We have other requirements that we expect of a civil society that we enforce with political jaw-boning, leadership. We give people warnings at first. So I think masks are one thing that we could be doing.”
Neither Gottlieb nor Biden would limit the virus response to more mask-wearing – not by any means. But even when viewed in isolation, Gottlieb’s cautious and indeed extremely nuanced assessment contrasts strikingly with Biden’s practical fetishization of masks, and in particular with the idea of a national mandate – unless you think it would be a game-changer with or even without “fines or stringent enforcement.”
Gottlieb’s views also contrast with Mr. Trump’s long-time mockery of mask-wearing in general. But contrary to mask enthusiasts, and generally consistent with Gottlieb’s caution, there are any number of reputable studies casting doubt on the masks-as-panacea meme – either showing negligible effects outside clinical and other obvious settings, or coming to inconclusive results. (See here for a useful summary.)
And since the Biden stance is so widely echoed by so many leading American influencers (including not only Mainstream Media journalists but figures from the sports and entertainment worlds), and since the former Vice President is equally widely portrayed as the adult in the room, it seems legit to emphasize that his position arguably is no more scientifically grounded than the President’s.
As for me, because I’m a law-abiding person, and these are the Maryland regulations, I wear masks when in indoor public and crowded outdoor spaces, but nowhere else. They’re all cloth of varying thicknesses, though.