To the Editor:

Early morning this past Sunday, I was running on the Burlington bike path, and I came across a quote that was embedded in stone that stopped me in my tracks.

“A society with too few independent thinkers is vulnerable to control by disturbed and opportunistic leaders. A society which wants to create and maintain a free and democratic social system must create responsible independence of thought among its young.” — John Dewey

This past year has been extraordinarily challenging for the vast majority of Americans and the world at large. As a small business owner, I have experienced first hand the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the U.S., studies have shown that 50 percent of all Black businesses have failed and 30-40 percent of all small businesses have closed.

Fifteen months ago, if someone had said the schools, churches and synagogues would be closed, that unemployment would reach levels approaching the Great Depression, and that we would be wearing face masks in public places you would have thought that person was smoking a bit too much of now-legal weed.

As a physician in health care with over 40 years in practice, I have seen first hand the damaging effects fear and disconnection have on people’s lives, and feel I need to call out the loss of common sense and critical thinking among elected officials and agencies in Washington handling the COVID-19 situation.

One of the largest randomized controlled published studies on effectiveness of mask wearing to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission published in March 2021 in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” studied over 3,000 participants in Denmark and showed conclusively that mask wearing did not reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.

Has this report been widely reported in the major media? No.

It has been clearly shown that mask wearing increases blood carbon dioxide levels, decreases oxygen levels, increases cortisol levels (stress hormone) and weakens the body’s immune system. Does mask wearing make sense given the science?

Are there news stories on CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC or NPR regarding strengthening your body’s immune system to fight COVID-19? No, there aren’t.

We are instructed ad nauseum to sanitize surfaces and use hand sanitizer to kill the awful microbes and use toxic chemicals to fight COVID-19. Common sense dictates that microbes have been part of our natural environment since the beginning of life on earth.

Strengthening your immune system through a healthy diet, exercise, meditation and stress reduction makes way more sense than fighting the evil microbes.

Now I know this is a very emotional and controversial topic, mentioning the COVID-19 shot. I won’t call it a vaccine because it is not a vaccine by definition. It is an experimental gene therapy that has never been licensed before in human history. There are no long-term safety studies. Common sense dictates caution when deciding to receive the shot or not.

Let me be clear on this topic. If you choose to wear a mask, social distance, use enhanced sanitizing practices and receive the COVID-19 shot, it should be your right to do so.

But there should also be freedom of choice in practicing those measures when an analysis of the science, common sense and critical thinking dictates that perhaps we are being sold a bill of goods by a government and major media strongly influenced by corporate interests.

Lastly, on the topic of integrity, I sadly mention the highest elected official in New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has greatly influenced and largely destroyed New York City and the economy of his state. Based on recent allegations of gross misconduct, would you trust following his recommendations?

Dr. Bradley S. Rauch

Stowe

(3) comments

Tennis88

This "Doctor" has only quoted one study that supported the conclusion he believes. Well, I am a scientist, with a Ph.D in cell and molecular biology. I am not a virologist or an epidemiologist and I won't pretend to be. But I do know something about science and biology. Answers to complex questions in science come from analyzing huge amounts of data, and they DO NOT come from only citing one study that supports one's preconceived ideas and ignoring the mass of data that disagree. In the case of mask wearing this is actually a difficult and complex question to address statistically, like most medical treatment questions, because of the huge number of variables in any one persons life and the inability to have one highly controlled protocol for all members of the tested set. In other words statistical proof of the effects of treatments is as far from a simple matter as possible. There is another avenue besides statistics to answer some questions, that avenue of cause and effect. People with COVID and other viruses send viral particles out when they breathe. If the victim of a virus did not send out viral particles in some way, then how would viruses even exist at all? They Do exist and they are transmitted from one carrier to the next. Breaking the chain of transmission is beyond doubt one of the best ways of stopping the transmission of a virus. That is common sense. The discovery of germs and viruses and the discovery of ways to sterilize contaminated objects were one of the greatest steps forward in medical history.

OK, our “medical expert” does not like masks, sanitizers, and is spreading misinformation about the vaccine as well. Has he a solution? Could it be that the real answer to the plague of viral diseases is eating well, or have a spine manipulation? Good grief. This is the 21st century. This man could appear on Tucker Carlson's program, he would fit right in. How did he miss his chance to join Dr. Atlas as a medical consultant in the previous administration?

Tennis88

I just read the study that Dr. Rauch cites. He has everything wrong starting with the number of participants, the publication date ( it was e-published in November 2020) but most especially the conclusions.

Here is what the lead author of the study has to say: “We think you should wear a face mask at least to protect yourself, but you should also use it to protect others,” lead author Henning Bundgaard told The Washington Post. “We consider that the conclusion is we should wear face masks.”

Far from "conclusively proving" that wearing face masks offers no protection and and should not be required, the study authors believe the exact opposite.

The conservative media similarly misunderstood the meaning of the study in Nov 2020.

This whole nonsense sounds like the work of the world of deniers like Dr. Atlas and S.D. Governor Noem. It is dangerous, unhelpful, and scientifically inaccurate. Bah!

L. Allen

The chiropractor (not an MD or Physician) who wrote this commentary exhorts us to use critical thinking. That's an excellent idea. So, following his instructions, I looked at the source that he claims indicates we shouldn't bother with masks. I guess he didn't expect anyone to actually read the source he cites.

It turns out, he left out a two critical aspects of the study: It was done in a setting where masks were "uncommon and not among recommended public health measures," and study subjects spent an average of 3 hrs per day surrounded by unmasked people outside of their households.

Indeed, people who were swimming in a sea of infectious droplets, had an excellent chance of enough droplets getting through or around their mask, or into their eyes to infect them.

What we know about mask wearing is that a non-N-95 mask mostly protects the people around the wearer. If a person who is wearing a mask has COVID-19, fewer of their larger, more infectious droplets escape to infect others. This has been established by over 16,000 studies worldwide, and I'm not going to list them all.

However, when the overall viral load is low enough, mask wearing is not *solely* protective of others. In an area where mask-wearing is common, far fewer droplets escape from infected people, and those droplets that do escape are less infectious. In areas where mask wearing is common, the mask worn by an individual captures some of those remaining escaped droplets, preventing them from reaching the mucus membranes of the mask wearer. In those places, the wearer is protected by their own mask as well as the masks of the people around them. A recent review of studies from several countries backs this up: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/masking-science-sars-cov2.html

This is why it is necessary for ALL of us to wear masks. When we join forces to protect one another, it works - both for others and for ourselves.

The author goes on to imply that a good diet and healthy immune system are all that's needed to protect oneself from this insidious and cruel virus. This is not true. The virus is novel, and your immune system will not recognize it to fight it off if you are exposed. Your immune system will have to build a new immune response, and that takes time. In that time, if you have health challenges that create extra ACE2 receptors in your body, your body will be very susceptible to severe illness. One of the reasons children are less susceptible is because they have fewer ACE2 receptors for the virus to latch onto (initially - this is changing with new variants that "stick" better to whatever ACE2 receptors you have).

The irony of the most severe cases is that a strong immune response becomes the enemy - causing what's called a cytokine storm, which floods the lungs with tissue-damaging immune factors, causing the cells to burst and die, leading to the lungs filling with a particularly thick glop comprising dead cells, hyaluronic acid, pus, and blood. This particular form of lung destruction is referred to as "COVID pneumonia." It's nothing like regular pneumonia, and more like the result of exposure to mustard gas or caustic industrial chemicals.

A strong immune system may help *some* people to fight off the virus if they are exposed to a very low viral load (like the load you're likely to get from a few tiny, less-infectious droplets that escaped another person's mask), but it can rapidly become your enemy if you are exposed to a high viral load.

Good nutrition is always important, and in fact some deficiencies have been shown to increase your ACE2 receptors, making you more vulnerable.

I didn't respond to his comments on hand cleaning, but continuing good hand hygiene remains a good idea. Surface droplets aren't as big an infection risk for COVID as airborne droplets, but they are a big factor in influenza, which as been almost non-existent this flu season - so hand-cleaning is a two-fer, further reducing COVID risk, while significantly reducing influenza risk. It's worth it for that, alone.

In the end, using your critical thinking skills, you'll want to take the author's sensible suggestions, but ignore the non-sensical ones. Wear a mask, eat as healthfully as you can, wash your hands well and frequently. This will minimize risk for everyone while we work on reaching herd immunity through vaccination. If we are really dedicated to keeping the viral load low in our communities, we can get through this pandemic and back to normal sooner, rather than later.

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