Articles to 2021-01-31

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.


Howard et al. is an old (i.e. late published) study from July 2020. It is a purely theoretical review and some of the most important constituent papers are from before 1980. As such it confirms why there were strong expectations for mask wearing but does not add much to their observed non-efficacy and does not contradict Brauner et al. from the list of 2021-01-11.

So how to reconcile them? As Howard et al. convincingly show, masks are highly efficacious as such but mostly on the infectious spreader’s side, not so much for the recipient. Why doesn’t that turn up in the epidemiological results at least outside East Asia? By all accounts Covid displays a significant overdispersion – in other words a tiny subset of the infectious persons accounts for the huge majority of all infections. It is these superspreaders who have to wear masks, all others are mostly meaningless. For them to work, masks have to be worn by everybody at all times, eighty percent or so plainly doesn’t do anything, at least not when not-wearing and superspreading correlate. Asia comes near to that ideal, the West simply doesn’t.


If confirmed Bova et al. and Hertzberg will change and invalidate not only the climate reconstructions for the Holocene but many (most) others as well. While their central tenet looks sound, a comparison of their figures 3a and b makes me wait for further comment.

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