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comment by b_b
b_b  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Are We Wearing the Wrong Masks?

Overinterpreting of a single study also led to the whole HCQ debacle. It's almost as if we've learned nothing about science in the last 18 months!

One of the things about this study that makes it hard to interpret, beyond the low total case numbers, is that they don't actually have data about whether for an individual masking did anything. They only talk about populations, and rightly so, because that's the study design. But within that relative risk reduction of 11% or whatever, what's the effect size among strict mask adherents? We don't know.

What can be said about this study is that when absolute case loads are low, and mask wearing is lax generally, then wearing a surgical mask is a little better than not wearing a surgical mask. Not sure any other conclusions can be drawn. I don't know what hand the authors had in overinterpretation of their study, but I don't think they can be totally held accountable for how the media portrays it. Science journalism is bad, because if it wasn't bad no one would read articles about science. They would be too boring.





kleinbl00  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This study is dumb because:

- the effectiveness of a mask is a physical measurement. That's where that whole "n95" thing comes from. It's almost as if NIOSH, OSHA, the WTO and every other regulatory body on the planet had their own standards, and you can look up how they compare. Wanna measure the "n" number of a cloth mask? been done. It isn't n00, it isn't n100.

- the effectiveness of mask wearing is a sociological requirement. This study is "if you falsify data for me I will give you $190."

It's like those fucking German choads who did fluid dynamics for a living who came out with a video that showed bicyclists poisoning the universe so that every old lady could stare daggers at me for daring to jog on the other side of the street.

    What can be said about this study is that when absolute case loads are low, and mask wearing is lax generally, then wearing a surgical mask is a little better than not wearing a surgical mask.

This study shows that umbrellas cause more rain than raincoats, so we should all leave our umbrellas in the closet if we want to arrive at work with our heads dry.

b_b  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·  

N numbers don't actually mean much in the real world if people aren't using masks (a) all the time, and (b) that fit perfectly. And everyone is different, but nobody follows both of those rules all the time. My guess is that you do it better than the average person. I'm close to 99% sure of that assessment. Most people are some combination of uneducated and lazy, so imperfect as the study is, I think they were trying to measure what happens in a real-world scenario, as opposed to a laboratory setting, whence the N's. I agree with most of your critiques, but I think simply pointing to N numbers is too simplistic.

kleinbl00  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·  

not pointing to N numbers is untestable, though. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has run a "do you know how to wear a fucking mask" study. This one ain't it. Even the study's authors are unequivocal: WEAR A FUCKING MASK.

    For roughly half the 600 villages, we intervened by promoting mask usage: We gave every family in each village at least three masks — one per adult, cloth or surgical — and distributed masks in public spaces, including markets. We enlisted eminent local figures to explain why wearing masks can help slow viral transmission — providing imams with scripts to be read during religious services, for instance. Local leaders also modeled proper mask-wearing. We then sent observers into public spaces to note any changes in behavior.

So while Vinay Prasad can go "are we wearing the wrong masks" from a study that wasn't about type of mask, three of the actual authors of the study are up in the WaPo going

    Our research suggests that if we could get even a quarter more people wearing high-quality masks across Latin America, Africa and Asia, we could change the trajectory of the pandemic. Indeed, the reductions in infections we observed in Bangladesh with surgical masks, if extrapolated to the entire country over the past four months, could have saved nearly 25,000 lives.

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    Our study showed conclusively that masks are a cost-effective way to reduce infections and demonstrated that a mask-promotion strategy can work. But our broader campaign to spread the word about our approach made clear that building large-scale coalitions across NGOs and governments is essential to converting that information into programs that reach millions.

    Until the vaccine supply increases — and possibly afterward — mask-wearing will remain essential worldwide. We all need to think hard about the best ways to marshal resources and apply the findings of this study to specific national and local contexts.