In case you missed it, the Taoiseach got a proper ticking off on RTE yesterday morning from a very annoyed Claire Byrne, who wants to know why, oh why, oh why, we can’t just bring back facemasks:
"The view is, from public health, that this [Covid] variant is so transmissible that it’s almost impossible to stop transmission,” says Taoiseach Micheál Martin | Read more: https://t.co/8rn6lTjy5M pic.twitter.com/TZ1bQy2ND7
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 31, 2022
The answer to that question, and the proof that Mr. Martin is right, can be found just across the Irish sea, in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has long been eager to differentiate itself from the Conservative Government in London. Whereas, in their telling of the tale, Boris Johnson is a heartless individualist who does not care about Covid, Nicola Sturgeon’s Government is compassionate and cautious and puts public health first. As a result, it has never abandoned its policy of mandatory facemasks.
So we have two countries to compare. Remember, before you look at these graphs, that the biggest claim facemask proponents make is that they would “make a difference”. Not eliminate Covid, certainly, but produce a meaningful reduction in case numbers.
So, having said that, here are the Irish figures over the last three months:
We are at a 7 day average of 7,036 recorded cases, every day. What about Scotland?
That’s a 7 day average of 9,613.
Scotland’s population is 5.4million. Ireland’s is 4.9million. If you adjust the figures, you will find that Scotland – with masks – has many more cases per head of population than Ireland – without masks.
So where is the evidence that masks reduce the infection level, even by a little bit?
The arguments about why masks work, and why they do not, have been done to death. Worn properly, and universally, they certainly might help. But the facts are that most people do not wear the necessary standard of mask, do not keep it clean, and do not wear it properly.
And so, they don’t work.
To introduce masks, Government would have to restrict civil liberties. To do that, it needs very strong and compelling evidence that the restrictions will make a big difference.
In the case of masks, that evidence just does not exist. Which is why Claire Byrne couldn’t cite any to the Taoiseach in the clip above. Before you go, watch it again. You will find that she does not offer a shred of evidence for her preferred policy. That is not because Claire Byrne is a bad debater, or a foolish woman. She is neither.
It’s just that the evidence does not exist.