2021-11-23 General

Mitigation Measures

I have heard that it is critically important for masks to fit well to be useful, yet most of the people I see wearing masks have big obvious gaps in them. How could these possibly work? And yet, clearly they do. In addition to multiple studies showing mask-wearing reduces cases, pretty much every time a jurisdiction ditches masks — even places that seemed to have things well under control — their case rate skyrockets. How can this possibly work?

I and my associate have come up with the following theories:

  • Source control: masks probably help the wearer less than everyone around them, and when one talks or breathes, most of the air goes forward, into the mask, where the virus particles (virions) get caught in the fabric (especially medical-grade masks). The stuff that blows out the sides is the air which had just gotten inhaled and which is displaced by your breath. Maybe.
  • Breath direction/speed: If you are talking to someone with no mask, their breath goes basically right into your face. If you are talking to someone who has big gaps between their cheeks and the mask, their breath is going to go out sideways — not into your face — and will slow down because it needs to change directions. I believe that if a droplet or aerosol is moving more slowly, then it has more opportunity to fall innocuously down.
  • Humidity: I have seen multiple studies which say that the upper respiratory tract is better at conveyoring particles out if the humidity is above 40%. A mask captures moisture, so the humidity of air that goes down the lungs is higher, which is a good thing.


I had a hard time figuring out which section to put this in because it’s so wacky! This article says that researchers have developed a gum that has ACE-2 receptors in it, so if you have COVID-19 and chew it, 95% of the virions will get caught in the gum and hence not transmitted!


This preprint says that they have found really good correlates of protection! This is important because if the regulatory committees approve, then new vaccines (or tweaks of old vaccines) can be submitted for approval after following a few volunteers for a few weeks instead of following a ton of volunteers for multiple months.


This preprint showed that patients who got vaccines were less likely to report Long COVID.

If they got a vax during this time relative to their COVID infectionthen they were this much less likely to report multiple Long COVID symptoms than a never-vaxxed person
0-4 weeks after5.3x
4-8 weeks after3.2x
8-12 weeks after2.2x


This preprint says that people with multiple myeloma (like Colin Powell) are 34% more likely to get a breakthrough COVID case (like Colin Powell did).


This article says that chewing gum consumption dropped 18% in the pandemic. Apparently most people chew gum to freshen their breath, and if we aren’t getting within breathing distance, bad breath isn’t a big concern.

Recommended Reading

This article summarizes what we know about vaccination and Long COVID.

This article talks about why tests are hard to interpret.

This article discusses Cuba’s success making vaccines.

This article says it looks like COVID-19 is seasonal after all.