As if universal mask recommendations weren’t enough, the last week of July 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci started flouting the recommendation to wear goggles and full face shields as well, as the mucous membranes of your eyes can also serve as entryways for viruses. Fauci is also urging everyone to get their flu shots as soon as they become available.1 As reported by The Hill:2
“During an interview with ABC News medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton, Fauci was asked whether the U.S. would one day recommend eye protection due to the pandemic. ‘You know, it might,’ Fauci said, noting that it would offer an added layer of protection.
‘You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye,’ he added. ‘Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces.’
Fauci went on to say that if you have ‘goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.’ While it’s not universally recommended, both goggles and a face covering would provide ‘complete’ protection from the coronavirus, he said.”
Fauci’s support of universal masking and goggle-wearing is in stark contrast to comments he made back in March 2020, when he stated that “people should not be walking around with masks” because “it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And often there are unintended consequences: People keep fiddling with their mask and they keep touching their face.”3
Ocular Transmission Is Possible but Unlikely
Just how big of a risk do your eyes pose, when it comes to contracting COVID-19? In all likelihood, the risk is not that great.
According to a March 31, 2020, report4 in JAMA Ophthalmology, while ocular abnormalities were common in COVID-19 patients, only 5.2% actually had SARS-CoV-2-positive conjunctival specimens, i.e., specimens taken from the eye. According to the authors, “Although there is a low prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears, it is possible to transmit via the eyes.”
Put another way, while it’s possible SARS-CoV-2 could transmit via your eyes, the likelihood of this happening appears to be very low, seeing how only 5.2% of confirmed COVID-19 patients actually had SARS-CoV-2 in their eyes. Personally, I do not believe adding goggles and plastic face shields would significantly reduce your risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19.
Remember, the virus is aerosolized and spreads through the air. Aerosolized viruses — especially SARS-CoV-2, which is about half the size of influenza viruses — cannot be blocked by a mask, as explained in my interview with Denis Rancourt, who has conducted a thorough review of the published science on masks and viral transmission.
According to Rancourt, “NONE of these well-designed studies that are intended to remove observational bias found a statistically significant advantage of wearing a mask versus not wearing a mask.”
What’s more, contamination of the eyes is likely primarily the result of touching your eyes with contaminated fingers. If you wear goggles or a face shield, you may actually be more prone to touch your eyes to rub away sweat, condensation and/or scratch an itch.
Just as there’s no scientific basis for universal mask wearing, there’s no scientific basis for the wearing of goggles and face shields either.
Even CNN recently cited the opinion of Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, who said that while it’s possible for the virus to end up in your eye — either due to exposure to contaminated air or touching your eyes with contaminated fingers — contracting the disease via your eyes is “probably less likely, however, than getting it through your nose or mouth or from inhaling it.”5
Steinemann also pointed out that the virus would have to go through a “rather circuitous route” before it can do any significant harm. First it would have to infect your eye, then “be carried to your nose through your tears,” and then from there to your mouth, throat and lungs.
Mask Wearing Required Even After Vaccine Becomes Available?
In related news, Maria Elena Bottazzi, a COVID-19 vaccine developer at Baylor College of Medicine, claims6 social distancing and face masks will likely still be required even after a vaccine becomes available, as the vaccine will not offer 100% protection against infection.
For example, Moderna is hoping to achieve a 60% effectiveness rate in its Phase 3 trials. Even if the vaccine reaches 90% effectiveness, people with high-risk health conditions will need to continue wearing masks, Moderna’s CEO Stephanie Bancel said.7
In what appears to be an effort to back up the mask mandates for COVID-19, Fauci is now also endorsing the wearing of masks during every influenza season going forward. As reported by Life Site News, July 31, 2020:8
“Fauci … suggested that masking should morph from a temporary emergency measure to a permanent seasonal practice: ‘It is inevitable that we’re going to have some degree of flu. I’m hoping that the wearing of masks and other coverings are going to not only protect us against COVID-19, but also help protect us against influenza.’”
Guidance Should Be Based in Science, Not Unsupported Belief
Public health recommendations such as universal mask wearing, which also has its risks, should not be pinned on hope alone, however — which is what Fauci is doing. If we are to follow the science, then universal mask-wearing should not be implemented for either influenza or COVID-19 reduction.
As noted by Dr. Andrew Bostom of Brown University in a July 11, 2020, Medium post:9
“… limited, immediate-term experimental observations10 — equivocal at best — provide no rational, evidence-based justification for daily, prolonged mask usage by the general public to prevent infection with COVID-19.
Moreover, a subsequent pooled (so-called ‘meta-‘) analysis11 of 10 controlled trials assessing extended, real-world, non-health-care-setting mask usage revealed that masking did not reduce the rate of laboratory-proven infections with the respiratory virus influenza.
The findings from this unique report — published May 2020 by the CDC’s own ‘house journal’ ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases’ — are directly germane to the question of masking to prevent COVID-19 infection and merit some elaboration.
Ten randomized, controlled trials reporting estimates of facemask effectiveness in lowering rates of laboratory-confirmed influenza within the community, published between 2008 and 2016, were analyzed and pooled, applying a rigorous, standardized methodology.
One study evaluated mask usage by Hajj pilgrims to Mecca, two university-setting studies assessed the efficacy of face masks for prevention of confirmed influenza among student campus residents over five months of surveillance, and seven household studies examined the impact of masking infected persons only (one), household contacts of infected persons only (one), or both groups (five).
None of these studies, individually, or their aggregated, pooled analysis, which enhanced the overall ‘statistical power’ to detect smaller effects, demonstrated a significant benefit of masking for the reduction of confirmed influenza infection … The authors further concluded with a caution that using face masks improperly might ‘increase the risk for (viral) transmission.’”
Masking ‘Is a Reflexive Reaction to Anxiety’ NEJM Says
Other studies have come to the same conclusions. For example, a paper in the April 2020 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine pointed out:12
“We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to COVID-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes).
The chance of catching COVID-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic …
More compelling is the possibility that wearing a mask may reduce the likelihood of transmission from asymptomatic and minimally symptomatic health care workers with COVID-19 to other providers and patients …
Masking all providers might limit transmission from these sources by stopping asymptomatic and minimally symptomatic health care workers from spreading virus-laden oral and nasal droplets.
What is clear, however, is that universal masking alone is not a panacea. A mask will not protect providers caring for a patient with active Covid-19 if it’s not accompanied by meticulous hand hygiene, eye protection, gloves, and a gown.
A mask alone will not prevent health care workers with early Covid-19 from contaminating their hands and spreading the virus to patients and colleagues.
Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from implementing more fundamental infection-control measures.”
Gas Mask Developer Invents COVID-19 Mask
In an apparent attempt to address the ineffectiveness of standard medical and cloth masks against airborne viruses, Noam Gavriely, an Israeli gas mask innovator, is now promoting ViriMASK, a new type of mask said to block 99.25% of particles with a diameter of at least 0.087 microns.
SARS-CoV-2 is a beta-coronavirus with a diameter between 0.06 to 0.14 microns.13 The device looks like a cross between a diver’s mask and a square gas mask. So far, the company has sold about 10,000 of these masks. As reported by Times of Israel:14
“Gavriely, ViriMASK CEO, told The Times of Israel: ‘Unlike other products, this is sealed all around the face, like gas masks and diving masks. And the filter is much more dense than the N95 mask and surgical masks, meaning that fewer particles penetrate.’
He said this can give peace of mind to hospital workers and other medical professionals, including dentists, and others who are at a higher risk of being exposed to the coronavirus.
The mask straps around the head and covers the eyes, nose and mouth, meaning that all points currently believed to be channels for coronavirus infection are protected. ‘In this sense, you’re covering yourself completely and also protecting the environment around you from any infection you may have,’ said Gavriely …”
Health Officials Weigh in on Pandemic Sex Practices
To go along with the masks, goggles and clear face shield, health officials are now also starting to issue recommendations for “safer sex.” In New York City, health officials suggest couples who do not reside in the same residence on a permanent basis should wear a mask during sex and avoiding kissing.
According to the New York City health department’s “Safer Sex and COVID-19” fact sheet,15 “Decisions about sex and sexuality need to be balanced with personal and public health,” although they do note that “sex is not likely a common way that COVID-19 spreads.”
To “enjoy safer sex and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19,” the health department suggests avoiding orgies, restricting sexual activity to masturbation whenever possible, and washing your hands (and any toys) for at least 20 seconds before and afterward.
If hooking up with someone outside your household, discuss COVID-19 risk factors such as symptoms within the last two weeks and any positive COVID-19 test results. They also recommend having alcohol-based sanitizer on hand, and having sex in “larger, more open, and well-ventilated spaces.”
Other suggestions include getting “creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.” In plain English, consider having sex through a hole in the wall (“glory hole”) or other physical barrier to avoid close physical contact.
British Columbia’s Centre for Disease Control has issued near-identical guidelines,16 as has the Irish Health Services and the Irish Pharmacy Union.17 Several Scandinavian countries have also issued pandemic safe sex guidance, although the Danish health chief explicitly excluded all forms of sex from its social distancing rules saying “sex is good, sex is healthy.”18
Online Sex Can Have Unwanted Consequences
If the idea of rubbing genitals through a hole in the wall doesn’t strike your fancy, health officials suggest getting busy online instead. What all of them fail to address is the privacy issue. They’re basically asking everyone to have sex online where big tech surveillance capitalists can record your every video encounter and capture every lurid text message and photo.
That data is stored indefinitely, along with everything else you do online, and may be accessed by any number of individuals, now or in the future, including hackers that may use the recordings for all sorts of nefarious purposes.
I’m not going to tell you what you should or should not do here, but I will remind you that many lives and careers have been ruined by the involuntary release of intimate photos and videos. So, be mindful of the privacy risks involved.
I guess at the end of the day, you’ll have to weigh the risk of infection against personal risks that have nothing to do with infectious disease. As for the wearing of googles and face shields, there’s no evidence to suggest these measures actually prevent the spread of viral infection when worn in public any more than face masks do.