To see if masks worked against COVID19 I looked at 6 countries and compared the date they made masks mandatory against what happened to the number of deaths after.
Here are the graphs showing the mandatory mask date against the number of deaths
Mask Wearing Germany
For Germany we see the number of deaths was already decreasing before masks were made mandatory and that after the introduction of the masks the rate of decline in deaths slowed. Although comparing the rate of decline versus countries which did not have a mask mandate, the profile is almost identical
Verdict: The rate of decline in the number of deaths does not appear to have been effected by the introduction of masks. The rate of deaths is now stable but has risen slightly in the last few weeks. Masks seem ineffective at reducing the number of deaths in Germany
Mask Wearing France
For France the number of deaths had already flattened out by the time masks were introduced. There was no change in the number of deaths for around 4 weeks but in the past few weeks there has been a small increase in the number of daily deaths.
Verdict: Masks have done nothing to reduce the number of deaths in France
Mask Wearing Spain & UK
Spain and the UK have followed an almost identical pattern to France
Verdict: Masks have done nothing to reduce the number of deaths in the UK and Spain.
Mask Wearing in California
After the introduction of masks the number of deaths increased and later decreased. The shape of the profile is more stretched out than the countries detailed above and the decrease in the number of deaths also seems to be slower.
Verdict: Given it’s different profile versus the other countries in the article, one has to assume other things are playing a much bigger part in the number of deaths than mask wearing. With regards to masks specifically they have not reduced deaths in the California
Mask Wearing in Greece
Greece is more interesting but perhaps not a good example to include because the country has not seen anywhere near as many deaths as the other countries in this article.
Having said that, after the introduction of masks the number of deaths has increased and has been maintained at the higher level.
The profile before the introduction of masks is almost identical to Spain, UK, Germany and France
Verdict: Mask wearing has not reduced the number of deaths in Greece
It seems to be clear that masks do not reduce the number of deaths due to COVID19, at least in the countries featured in this article.
Furthermore the number of deaths has started to increased while masks are mandatory in all cases, except California, however the rate of decline in deaths in California is much slower than in all the other countries. Again, this would point to negative outcomes from mask use.
Things like weather, the climate, severity of lockdowns could all play a part in the range of change of the number of deaths.
However if we are coming from the position of “masks make a noticeable difference” to the number of deaths then we have to conclude that masks in the short term have no effect and in the medium and long term could be increasing the number of deaths or in the case of California, slowing the rate of decrease.
However, if you come from the position that masks might make a small, unnoticeable difference then the case for making masks mandatory becomes questionable.
Mask Wearing Research
At the moment, I know of no systematic studies looking at mask use in the real world ie people not washing their hands before touching their mask, people not storing their mask in a sterile environment, people reusing the same mask many times.
For there to be more conclusive proof as to the effectiveness of masks there needs to be a group study of say 200 people, over a period of six months. 100 of the group only wearing the mask in mandatory areas, the other 100 wearing masks most of the time. At the end of the 6 months we can see how many people’s condition has been unchanged and how many people’s condition has become worse ie they were fine at the start of the study and are either still fine at the end or feel noticeably worse.
Further their condition can be compared to how they were pre-mask wearing.
A study along these lines would give us a much better idea of the real world effect of mask wearing.
Mask Wearing As Things Stand
At best, the case for mask wearing is unclear. Either masks play no noticeable effect in the number of deaths from COVID19 or mask wearing very slowly increases the number of deaths from COVID19 in the medium to long term.
Whichever the case may be, effect or no effect, what is clear, at least from looking at these graphs, is that wearing masks does not reduce the number of deaths and for that reason I think it wise to remove all mandates on mask wearing until a study along the lines of the one above has been carried out.