Author Paul Stevens is a member of Smile Free, which campaigns for the end of mask mandates and masking.
Considered the “gold standard” in evidence-based health care science, the latest, and fifth, update of a Cochrane review, first published in 2007 and now including 78 randomised controlled trials, reconfirmed what has been known for decades: community wearing of face masks makes no difference to the spread of respiratory viruses.
While most professional pro-maskers have reacted by quietly distancing themselves from their previous support of them, one, Trish Greenhalgh, has doubled-down, co-authoring an opinion piece entitled, ‘Yes, masks reduce the risk of spreading COVID, despite a review saying they don’t.’
The ‘high priestess’ of UK masking, who once claimed that wearing homemade masks in public would ‘wipe out’ COVID-19, has a history of exaggerating and fabricating ‘facts’; for example, stating that ‘masks could reduce the amount of virus transmitted from one person to another by more than 90%’ and, in the same hagiographic interview, making the fanciful claim that “Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost before many governments introduced mandatory masking.”
And as documented forensically by Smile Free’s Dr Gary Sidley, in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview, Greenhalgh managed to squeeze into nine minutes a massive amount of mask misinformation. So egregious was her contribution, that even so-called “fact checking” agency Full Fact felt they had no choice but to debunk it.
Containing such nuggets as “there’s absolutely no doubt that the virus can’t get through the holes in the mask”, the listener is hard-pressed to know if Trish believes what she spouts, being as Sidley posits ‘a victim of the relentless fear propagation’, or whether she herself is a willing part of the establishment nudging machine.
Whichever it is (maybe both), Professor Greenhalgh’s case offers a valuable and intriguing study of the general Covidian attitude – albeit, per the Real Left, with some notable exceptions – of the political and cultural Left.
As befits a ‘scientist’ who is on the record as saying that effective DIY masks can be made using ‘two pieces of cotton and a pantyliner’, Trish Greenhalgh’s background is in the humanities. She gained a BA degree in Political and Social Sciences from Cambridge University and later qualified in clinical medicine at Oxford University. She subsequently trained as a diabetologist, later as an academic general practitioner, and is currently a Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford.
Adapting the words of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, if it is true that “by their friends we shall know them”, a quick survey of Professor Greenhalgh’s co-conspirators and supporters reveals much.
Since April 2022 Greenhalgh, who boasted that she had made a mask ‘that was a hanky on the inside and a piece of old curtain on the outside’, has been a member of Independent SAGE, a group that has been described as being ‘Labour Party donors and Corbynistas, demanding harsher Covid restrictions’ and whose founding partner, The Citizens, was itself initiated by conspiracy theorist, Carole Cadwalladr.
Trish also has connections with the Wellcome Trust, funders of her Covid research, led by Jeremy Farrar, the Trust’s Director, soon-to-be Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the man who, with Dr Anthony Fauci, appears to be implicated in ‘intimidating and influencing the world’s top biologists and virologists into not only abandoning their concerns of a possible lab origin, for Covid-19, but who were tasked with “disproving the lab-leak theory” as well.’
Another of Greenhalgh’s pro-mask compatriots is COVID-19 media personality, friend of Chelsea Clinton, and Professor of Public Health, Devi Sridhar. Sridhar was part of the Royal Society-sponsored DELVE group implicated recently as being behind the original 2020 campaign to pressurise the UK Government into making masks mandatory amongst the general public.
Cast as ‘experts’, Greenhalgh and Sridhar appeared on Good Morning Britain telling the watching audience of around 1 million, that, “There is no doubt the virus is in the air, there is no doubt that you can catch it if you inhale, and someone else has exhaled.”
Further embellishing her claim about, “The exercising jogger – the puffing and panting jogger – you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes actually feel yourself inhale it, so there’s no doubt that there is a danger there”, Greenhalgh offered the evidence-free assertion that, “Forty per cent of Covid cases happen by catching it [i.e., becoming infected] from people who have no symptoms.”
Challenged later about the veracity of her declarations, Geenhalgh attempted to justify herself by mixing claims about asymptomatic transmission rates: i.e. what percentage of the population with Covid catch it from an asymptomatic person, with asymptomatic infection rates, i.e. what percentage of the population with Covid are asymptomatic. Two entirely separate measures, by conflating and using one to justify the other, Greenhalgh came across as being unconcerned about the truth and entirely happy to make things up to suit her agenda.
When presented with her mistake, Greenhalgh simply stopped communicating, and resorted to playing the ‘hate’ card:
Speaking of ‘evidence’, in recent years Greenhalgh has moved her position on the topic of evidenced-based medicine (EBM) considerably, to a point where she has argued that, masks being a case in point, COVID-19 has revealed the limits of EBM. She has gone so far as writing that, ‘in the face of a pandemic, the search for perfect evidence may be the enemy of good policy’, maintaining that ‘it is time to act without waiting for randomised controlled trial evidence’. This approach, that in the absence of empirical evidence can be summed up as ‘doing something is better than doing nothing’, is, she contends, acting on ‘moral evidence’.
Given her documented priority interest in the ‘health needs and illness narratives of minority and disadvantaged groups’, her connections to left-leaning organisations and individuals, and her belief in ‘moral arguments’, it seems reasonable to construe that Trish Greenhalgh would describe herself as being ‘liberal’, ‘progressive’ or both. Indeed, in her public utterances on Twitter she re-enforces this conclusion frequently, talking about the ‘libertarian identity’ of scientists who insist there is ‘“no evidence” for masks’, for example, here and here.
There seems to be little doubt that Professor Greenhalgh sees herself as part of a high-status elite, defined both by what she is for and what she is against; a member of the COVID-19 faithful who strives to hold back the tide of hateful ‘anti maskers’ with her strident admonishments and demands that we should ‘WEAR A MASK!’
If the progressive and liberal mindset is so keen to be kind and empathetic, so focused on doing the best for people, and so supportive of minority views and lifestyles, we can only wonder at the inclinations of those of this ilk who have exhibited serious crypto-totalitarian tendencies for the past few years. As Trish Greenhalgh evidences, the casting of every dissenting voice as lacking a ‘moral’ basis, and the demand that everyone lives according to a communitarian philosophy, appears deeply engrained in much of the progressive psyche.
Perhaps, as H.L. Mencken observed, ‘The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it’.