I was trying to avoid writing more stuff on masks, but this is unbelievable. UC Berkeley, that bastion of California higher education, is now requiring masks -both indoors and outdoors, if one is not vaccinated against… influenza! And, as a virologist and vaccinologist, the use of the slang “flu” makes me cringe. There are no “flu” vaccines. There are a variety of vaccines for reducing Influenza A and Influenza B virus infection and disease. None of them work particularly well. And just as with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the vast majority of deaths from Influenza A and B occur in the elderly or otherwise infirm. Not in college age young adults. In most countries, influenza vaccination is neither routine nor required. One of the main reasons why influenza vaccines are pushed in the USA is to maintain “warm base manufacturing capacity” in case we have a really deadly influenza virus arise.
Now we all know that dust masks, even when called surgical masks, still don’t really work to stop transmission of RNA respiratory viruses, right? Depending on the study, maybe dust masks might work to reduce transmission by a tiny fraction? Hard to say when that pesky little issue of statistical significance keeps getting in the way of perfectly good clinical trials that might support the use of masks. They just can’t seem to get that clinical trial right. Just to say it, there is some evidence that N95 might help reduce transmission of respiratory viruses – if worn correctly and at all times, but that is not what is being mandated.
Well, those college administrations certainly know that those “flu” vaccines offer fantastic protection, right? umm…. not so much. Why not, you ask? Well, one key reason is that pesky problem that is also plaguing the SARS-CoV-2/COVID vaccines. Immune imprinting, otherwise known as “Original antigenic sin”. The more you vaccinate, the lower the protection against new strains. And both Influenza A (the more important pathogen) and Influenza B have a trick that coronaviruses do not have. They have a “multi-segmented” genome. Essentially multiple RNA strands, which can re-assort to form new variants if a cell gets infected by two different viruses of different strains at the same time. Therefore, Influenza A and B viruses can both “drift” (evolve step by step, like coronaviruses) or “shift” (re-assort their genome strands). So when we keep vaccinating, vaccinating, vaccinating against new influenza strains, we drive to lower and lower overall effectiveness for influenza vaccines in general. This is another one of those things which physicians and vaccinologists are not supposed to talk about, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The table below shows the data. Draw your own conclusions. But the peer reviewed literature on influenza vaccination and immune imprinting/original antigenic sin is broad and deep.
Yeh… well, that’s encouraging. The adjusted overall influenza vaccine effectiveness averages 30% in the USA over the past five years. Sound familiar?
So why is UC Berkeley mandating masks for people who aren’t vaccinated against flu when 1) when dust masks are ineffective and 2) flu vaccines really don’t work well?
Seems like UC Berkeley is living in some authoritarian reality, where it is acceptable to dictate medical procedures based on their own twisted morality, values and virtue signaling.
BTW- even the CDC doesn’t recommend that people in public areas wear masks to protect themselves or others from the flu. But UC Berkeley must know better, right? No. The answer is no. There is no good reason why UC Berkeley is mandating masks for people unvaccinated against flu. BTW the CDC defines flu season as between October and late as May – so that is 8 months, three quarters of THE ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR!
The question is the “big why?”
I suggest it has nothing to do with dust masks or vaccines.