Coronavirus second opinion: Don’t wear a mask

Coronavirus second opinion: Don’t wear a mask


norman lebrecht

March 03, 2020

Eli Perencevich, MD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa’s College of Medicine, has been talking to Forbes magazine. He says:

‘The average healthy person does not need to have a mask, and they shouldn’t be wearing masks,’ Dr. Perencevich said. ‘There’s no evidence that wearing masks on healthy people will protect them. They wear them incorrectly, and they can increase the risk of infection because they’re touching their face more often.

‘The one time you would want a mask is if you’re sick and you have to leave the house…If you have the flu or think you have COVID, that’s when you’d put on a mask to protect others. In your house, if you feel like you’re sick, you should wear a mask to protect your family members.’

More here.



  • Gustavo says:

    The following advert now pops up on slippedisc:

    Reusable breathing masks – to be shared among the masses.

    What next?

    Reusable rubber gloves for handling your gasoline dispensers…

    Thank you, Dr. Robb!

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks be to the Ad Blocker and Pop-Up Blocker browser ad-ons! They spare one from endless assaults by so much nonsense online.

      • Brettermeier says:

        “Thanks be to the Ad Blocker and Pop-Up Blocker browser ad-ons!”

        I think it’s impolite not to white-list a site you frequent in your adblocker, as you deprive them of their revenues.

        But yes, I see the same ad as Gustavo.

        (“ad-ons” was pretty funny in this context, though.)

  • david hilton says:

    Dr Perencevich has clearly never taken a London bus, or any other public transport. If he had, he would have been repeatedly coughed at and sneezed upon during the course of his journey. (Coughing, not contact, remember is the principal means of coronavirus and influenza transmission). Surely wearing a mask or any other kind of shield to fend off the horrible gunk that will be directed into your face on the 15 bus is not unreasonable.

    • Anon says:

      Yes, I’m sure that this professor of medicine and epidemiology is wrong and you’re right. (Social media, where everyone is not just an expert, but knows more than the experts.)

      • anon says:

        Keep in mind that the USA is a far less densely populated country and a far more car-centric society than the UK. Thus, it is very possible that Perencevich is correct in that USA context, but the higher population density and public-transport utilisation associated with London may indeed tip the balance. To be honest, I have no idea about this, but it is certainly a worthwhile point for discussion. So, no need for the snide attack on Hilton.

  • Hilary says:

    cycling masks are the most potent and have the bonus of protecting you against air pollution. If you own one please use it thus saving the other masks for the medical profession.

  • Ramesh Nair says:

    Re : Wearing a face mask to fend off horrible gunk directed to one’s face on public transport.

    A : No, that is emotional fear of ‘contamination’ vs actual transmission risk.
    Virusses are much smaller than bacteria. Airborne contagious viruses can pass through the material of all masks EXCEPT those tested as having anti viral resistance eg N95, N100 respirators. Besides, antiviral masks require an almost 100% seal between the edges of mask material and the face. In addition, some viruses can be absorbed through the exposed mucus membranes of the eye. ( Bloodshot whites of the eyes are exposed, dilated capillaries without the benefit of a protective keratinised skin seal ) This may happen with the SARS Cov 2 virus, BUT I have seen no studies which address this question.
    The reason that the nose produces snot is to produce a thick aqueous glue that traps pathogens and allows them to be excreted en masse. Theoretically, a glob of snot or spit, even if these contain manifold pathogens, is much less risky for the bystander on whom this lands, than invisible aerosols of pathogens, which by virtue of their small diameter, are far more easily inhaled. And that glob of snot or spit that lands on your bare skin will have a much reduced pathogen % by weight, and is less likely to be breathed in — just wash or wipe off.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Weird how Americans don’t seem to be taking this seriously. Any kind of block against someone sneezing should surely help. Mind you I will only wear a mask if I really, really have to.

    • Brettermeier says:

      But but but… Trump said that there are only 15 cases in the US and he’s doing an amazing job and the number will soon go down to zero and it will be “miraculously” gone by April and he’s doing an incredible job…! Wait, are you saying that’s not true? 😀

      “Any kind of block against someone sneezing should surely help.”

      And there goes the pepper.

      • Alan says:

        Cheap anti Trump shot. There is always one!

        • Cyril says:

          What’s cheap about it? It’s accurate. The President is a liar, and lying in this case can be extremely dangerous. With pandemics you need experts who tell the truth, not idiots who lie. Trump just said he believes the death rate is much lower than what WHO says, just based on a “hunch.” This is a dangerous man. His idiocy and lies are putting lives at risk.