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Audio-Drama.com links from October 25 to October 31, 2020 - 31 Days of Horror edition (64 new links!)
For the month of October, Audio-Drama.com presents 31 Days of Horror, normally featuring one new horror audio drama or spoken word link every day. However, this year the total has increased to
You can see the previous years' listings in this post featuring almost 400 links. Visit Audio-Drama.com's horror category page for over 1,100 horror audio drama links.
Here are the newest articles from the previous week:
- The Unmortal Voice (Narrated Horror Comedy Series) When tensions rise among vampires and humans, The Voice, an eager-to-learn ghosty follows an opportunity to do a directed study on trust, communication and connection in the mortal world. In a new realm, searching for answers, The Voice finds comfort with their closest friend, and favourite home to haunt, Hearth.
- Hector the Spectre Steals the Show (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series) Hector the Spectre Steals the Show is a six-part radio play written by Festival Antigonish artistic director Andrea Boyd and local actoplaywright Laura Teasdale. The story is based on the legend of the Bauer Theatre's resident ghost, Hector, and is inspired by real stories collected from artists and community members of all ages who have had encounters with Hector over the last 30 years. The play imagines a world where live theatre still happens, and where Festival Antigonish is producing a new play about the legendary ghosts – Blue Nun and Red Priest. But when Hector, the benevolent ghost of the theatre, sees that this ghost story on stage is not about him, he takes matters into his own hands.
- DRAMA - an aural experience (Full Cast Horror Series) Enter into the world of the supernatural, paranormal, and mysterious in this new short story audio drama series, sonically designed for your headphones to create an unforgettable immersive audio experience. [...] The fall winds are whispering...in your ears...join us as we journey into the unknown.
- The Pink Nightmares (Full Cast Horror Anthology) Anthology series of audible nightmares. Fictional short stories. Very real scenarios.
- Creeping Wave Radio (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series) Creeping Wave Radio follows the secret, otherwordly escapades of three podcasters, after they go off air. Enter a world populated by communist vampires, sexy lady Sasquatches, and demonic Canadians with unspeakably shapely calves.
- Grimoire Nights (Narrated Horror Series) Grimoire Nights is an occult and historical horror fiction podcast written and produced by Kay Halloran. Each original, feature-length, dramatized story draws listeners into a chilling glimpse of the darkest and most obscure recesses of history.
- Hauntingly Humdrum (Full Cast Horror Comedy Anthology ) Hauntingly Humdrum is [...] a slice-of-life Halloween anthology exploring the everyday mundanity of the people and creatures that capture our attention on this most beloved holiday.
- The Frightmare Theatre Podcast (Full Cast Horror Comedy Anthology ) Broadcasting from a decrepit radio studio across the astral plane, the Frightmare Theatre team strives to make your nightmares a reality. Each eerie episode brings new terrifying (and at times hilarious) horror radio dramas to life. We invite you to join host, Doctor Necropolis, and the rest of the Frightmare Theatre team as they introduce a variety of suspenseful stories that are sure to send shivers down your spine!
- Silent Hill - The Audio Drama (Narrated Horror Series) The story follows Harry Mason as he searches for his missing adopted daughter in the mysterious town of Silent Hill. Stumbling upon a cult conducting a ritual to revive a deity it worships, Harry discovers his daughter's true origin.
- The Hauntings of Elgin Barrett (Narrated Horror Anthology ) An ancient head starts to speak... A spirit pleads to be laid to rest... An immortal stalks the corridors of power.... Just a few of the horrors that lurk in The Hauntings of Elgin Barrett, an audio fiction podcast, featuring nine gripping new stories for anyone with a taste for the strange, the spooky and the supernatural. From a derelict Welsh hill farm to an East Devon mausoleum; from a converted pub in London's East End to the courtyard of a Cambridge college, these are tales which burrow deep into the psyche of an unquiet nation. They have been meticulously recorded and are performed by a team of top British TV, radio and theatre actors.
- Lost and Broken Things (Narrated Horror Anthology ) Lost and Broken Things is a podcast featuring tales of original short fiction, generally exploring topics of a dark and disturbing nature.
- The Terrible Misadventures of Trixie and Gorgon (Full Cast Children's Horror Series ) Welcome friend, to a dark tale for a dark time. The story of a young witch, a strange goblin, a demon-hunter with a thirst for vengeance, and the fateful Halloween night when one baby will unite them all. Welcome, to the Terrible Misadventures of Trixie and Gorgon.
- Apocalypse Songs (Full Cast Horror Mystery Series) Apocalypse Songs follows a local radio station reporter Amy Louise Chen investigating the tapes of Clara Wilson, an obscure 1960s musician whose cryptic lyrics seem to have predicted the future. Amy joins forces with Clara's great-nephew Josh to investigate the mystery of Clara's "Apocalypse Songs".
- Finding Satan (Full Cast Horror Series ) Good Omens meets The Black Tapes in Finding Satan, a Texas Gothic docudrama about a young woman searching for evil; she wants to see it, touch it, prove that it's real. She wants to find the source of all evil and look Him in the face. Follow Sarah every two weeks as she looks for the uncanny, the spooky, and the strange; listen to what she finds as she looks for Him. Don't you want to find Him?
- Stories in the Dark (Narrated Horror Anthology ) Stories in the Dark is a fiction podcast of original dark stories that tend towards the spooky, the creepy, or the dangerous. Like a haunting tale before bed? Turn down the lights and come listen to the dark.
- The Way We Haunt Now (Full Cast Horror Series ) Eulalie Elizabeth Reed is haunted by lots of things. Paths not taken. Failed relationships. Mistakes. Fears. Hopes. But she's never been properly haunted before. That's about to change. The Way We Haunt Now is a lighthearted horror audio drama about female friendships, found family, and fighting the narratives that try to define us – even in the afterlife. Oh, and ghosts. Did we mention ghosts?
- White Heron Radio Theatre's Ghost Light Series (Full Cast Horror Anthology ) In the theatre we have a tradition. Whenever the stage goes dark between performances, we always like to leave a single light burning in the house until the curtain can rise again. We call it - a "ghost light." And until we can all meet once more at White Heron, we're pleased to offer you something we like to call our Ghost Light Series.
- The Milkman of St. Gaff's (Narrated Horror Series ) Howie Coxwell is the newest boy to join the milkmen of St. Gaff's island. Haunted by nightmarish visions and a past he can't escape, Howie was looking for a fresh start when he came to St. Gaff's. He also wanted to dodge being drafted into the grinding trench war on the mainland. Under the tutelage of his militant new boss, Corwin, Howie discovers he's got a talent for underhanded intelligence gathering, the real specialty of the milkmen. When he pokes his nose into the nocturnal activities of the milkmen, and all those digging noises under the milk receiving station, Howie comes to realize that the horrific things he keeps seeing might not be just in his head. With his new girlfriend, Stormy, Howie will fight to escape the abyss and becoming part of a demonic plot.
- Circles (Full Cast Horror Series ) Ten years ago, four teenagers summoned a dangerous demon and while they lived to tell the tale, their lives were changed forever. Now the demon is coming back and the friends are forced into a risky plan to save their souls, where the difference between survival and eternal torment might be nothing more than a simple circle, drawn on the ground in chalk or salt.
- The Hollow (Full Cast Children's Horror Series ) Commemorating the 200th anniversary of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," The Hollow is a modern take on the timeless story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. When three 6th graders at Sleepy Hollow Middle School stumble upon a real-life ghost story, they find themselves on the trail of the Headless Horseman himself. Is he truly a terrifying ghoul, or has he been misunderstood for all these years?
- The 13 Days of Halloween (Life Lab Notes) (Full Cast Horror Comedy Anthology ) One Halloween night, The Twilight Zone, Dr Seuss, and Star Trek walked into a family-friendly bar, made them all close their eyes, then told them delightful, creepy, dramatic, and funny tales that made them gasp, think, laugh, and shiver. Not necessarily in that order.
- Untold (Full Cast Horror Series ) When a celebrated historian dies before finishing his last book, his granddaughter, Mara, picks up where he left off. But the more Mara investigates the strange and dark history surrounding the founders of a small Virginia town, the more she wonders if this particular story should have been left untold.
- Salem's Ghosts (Full Cast Horror Series ) Salem's Ghosts is a feature-length audio production that deftly combines the horrific history of Salem in 1692 with the supernatural specters that continue to haunt the city to this very day. This immersive audio experience begins at the height of the Salem Witch Trials, brought to life by an ensemble cast of professional vocal performers. But this take on 1692 is unlike any you've heard. Raw, humanizing, character-driven, and not afraid to blur the lines between the past and the present, the intensity of Salem's Ghosts does not relent until it reaches its unexpected conclusion. Helmed by Joel Austin, UCLA Ext. film professor and founder of ToSalem, Salem's Ghosts tells the haunting tale of one of the era's most notorious villains: High Sheriff George Corwin. We follow Corwin as his sinister attempts to please the Salem magisterial authorities degenerate into outright madness and depravity.
- The Heart of Ether (Full Cast Horror Series ) Irene Gray moved to the town of Daughtler, Washington to move on from something that has haunted her for four years. There is more to this town than meets the eye, however. Beneath its surface, something lurks. Watching. Waiting.
- Dark Hills Radio (Full Cast Horror Comedy Anthology ) Frightfully delightful hijinks, tomfoolery, silliness, and shenanigans from the theatrical little goblins at Dark Hills Events and The Jersey Ghouls. Dark Hills Radio brings you a buffet of innovative, pandemic-safe, and on-demand theatrical creativity - from audioplays to immersive storytelling to narrative gaming.
- Quimera: Horror Fiction & Poetry (Narrated Horror Series/Anthology ) Ever needed a story to help get you through the day? Does a shot of the macabre served with a chaser of raw expression sound like a lovely way to cap out the evening? Quimera: Horror Fiction & Poetry brings you tales of, well, horror filled with suspense, gore and grotesqueries. Stories are accompanied by a recited poem to further tickle the psyche with grim limericks and rhymes. And it's all delivered with a dash of overacting and a healthy dose of expletives. So if that sounds like a great time, then grab your hot drink of choice (cold is fine too), bundle up with your suspiciously stained San Marcos blanket, tap that play icon and join us...
- Hannahpocalypse (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series ) Hannahpocalypse is a comedy/horror audio drama that follows living dead girl Hannah; a zombie ‘living' her best life long after the zombie apocalypse has come and gone.
- It Came From The Parking Lot (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series ) A special audio fiction event from Baldwin Audio Works, It Came From the Parking Lot! is a four-part Halloween special about a world just to the side of ours where monsters are very real. And, in the case of Dracula, very bored. It's time for his infamous monsters-only Halloween party he throws in a rented venue in the city park every year, but this time things are thrown for a loop as a room full of history's greatest villains face a force of nature none of them are prepared to fight: a bear in the parking lot.
- Wandering with the Dead (Full Cast Horror Western Series ) "A new horror western audio drama set in the old west" ~ A bounty hunter carries his dead bounty across the old west, trying desperately to cash in on it before it deteriorates to nothing. The journey gives us a fascinating opportunity to explore some of the weirder tales of the old west.
- The Dark Pool (Full Cast Horror Series ) Four college students participate in a sound experiment designed to push their minds beyond the limits of human experience. Strange messages, inexplicable noises, and uncanny sensations begin to haunt them as the experiment threatens to take over their lives. Are they the victims of an elaborate prank, being tormented by demons, or navigating their way into a higher realm of consciousness? The truth hides somewhere beneath the surface of the dark pool.
- Tales From the Tombstone Tavern (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series ) The Tombstone Tavern is the local haunt of horror legends Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Wailing Woman, Wolf Man and The Mummy. Under cover of darkness they get in the drinks and try to give one another chills with their own takes on Lovecraft, B movies, slashers, ghost stories and the occult. But perhaps all is not what it seems... Tales from the Tombstone Tavern celebrates all that we love from the world of horror, whilst also asking how we want to get our frights in 2020.
- (A) Cry in the Moons Light Podcast (Narrated Horror Series ) A beautiful young woman must travel through a dark forest to be by the side of her dying grandmother. The setting is the late 1700's of Eastern Europe. A mysterious wolf stalks her and a deadly wolf pack tries to kill her. It is a time of castles, muskets, werewolves and other hideous creatures of the night.
- The Woes of Whitby (Full Cast Horror Series ) Whitby. The late 19th century. A thriving coastal town in North Yorkshire, England. Full of bustling streets, gothic spires, sweeping ocean views... and evil lurking in the shadows. When the young and outgoing Lucy Westenra suddenly falls mysteriously ill, those around her are thrown into a dangerous conflict in an attempt to protect her. To protect her from what, or whom, they don't even know.
- untitled [redacted] (Full Cast Horror Anthology ) A surreal horror podcast.
- Monstrous Agonies (Narrated Horror Comedy Series ) From werewolves in the doghouse to new ghouls at work, there's no problem too strange for this weekly advice segment, from the UK's only dedicated radio service for the creature community.
- Horror Shop Radio (Full Cast Horror Anthology ) An Audio-Drama Horror Anthology. Tales of Torment that will TERRIFY you...DISTURB you...and UNNERVE you!
- Kisses in the Dark (Full Cast Horror Series ) Against the bright lights of Blackpool, a supernatural killer is at work and a dark and dangerous love affair begins... A sinister, disturbingly romantic seven part podcast drama written by Marty Ross (BBC's Catch My Breath & Ghost Zone and Audible's The Darkwater Bride) and starring Con O'Neill (Chernobyl, The Batman) and Rhiannon Clements. A contemporary Gothic horror tale set against a background of life on the narrow edge between Pleasure Beach and wild cold sea, between secret desire and a deadly evil.
- The Petrol Station (Narrated Horror Series ) Nina Sudbrooke is a young girl who works the nights at her local remote petrol station. One evening she encounters something...stranger and now is desperate to tell somebody, anybody.
- Grimwell County (Full Cast Horror Western Series ) A western horror serial set deep in the wicked heart of Texas. GRIMWELL COUNTY follows the adventures of Deacon Langley and the gunslinger, Church McMillan, as they encounter the nightmares of the dark Texan frontiers.
- Deadfall: A Zombie Novel (Narrated Horror Series ) Civilisation has collapsed. Every single person on Earth has become infected with a virus. Those who remain immune are prey. In the tattered remnants of Northern England, an alcoholic ex-football hooligan – seventeen-year-old Jake Connor – struggles for survival amidst the chaos. After stealing a Land Rover from an abandoned petrol station, Jake discovers a boy and girl hiding on the backseat. Together, Jake, Kate and Rich navigate the urban wasteland in the face of overwhelming odds. They are looking for a refuge, a place they can call home, but the infected are everywhere and the infected are hungry. But not everything is as it seems - first the temperature drops, casting Northern England into a nuclear winter, then there are strange lights in the sky. Strange animals not seen in millennia stalk the land. All they want is to escape – but Jake has a dark and terrible secret – one that follows him everywhere and jeopardises their safety. He drinks to forget, but some things cannot be forgotten. Their survival depends on it.
- We Don't Belong Here (Full Cast Horror Series ) Three friends find themselves lost in a mysterious forest. The only problem: beyond the trees lies a dark secret. Now they must confront their hidden pasts while battling a terrifying, life-sucking creature. Soon, the trio will learn they don't really belong here. Or anywhere for that matter. "We Don't Belong Here" is a genre-bending podcast through horror and South Asian, Filipino, and Muslim Mythologies by Avaaz Media.
- Move Away (Full Cast Horror Series ) When our quarantine began...THEIRS came to an end. If you can't trick or treat this year, then tune into Move Away, a Buffalo, NY-based COVID-era horror podcast featuring one tortured student's quest to tell the stories of the damned and stay six feet away from his demons. While the people quarantine inside, forgotten souls lurk in the empty streets of America's most haunted Rust Belt city: Buffalo, NY. One tortured University at Buffalo student, Adam Combs, sets out to tell the stories of the accursed. By letting these spirits speak, this tale that begins as an exploration of anxiety, quarantine, and horror becomes a fresh take on Buffalo's forgotten history. The Angola "Pigman," The legendary "Hermit of Niagara," the séance of Graestone Manor, and the "Wrapped Woman" (the ghost of a patient at the Buffalo State Lunatic Asylum) all make appearances, alongside a host of other Buffalo-based spirits.
- The Lurking Transmission (Full Cast Horror Anthology ) A horror anthology podcast that features musical guests from a variety of genres with claws.
- The Wasp Woman (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series) The Wasp Woman is a campy audio adaptation of the 1959 B-movie of the same name directed by Roger Corman. This 35-minute satirical audio drama is a cautionary tale of a corporate cosmetics queen, Janice Starlin, who will do whatever it takes to stay youthful and relevant – no matter how horrific the costs.
- Parkdale Haunt (Full Cast Horror Series ) Ever since Judith's lifelong best friend, Claire Sterback, inherited a house from a biological family she never knew, things have begun to change. Claire has begun to change. It isn't just that the house is full of cryptic notebooks, ominous scribblings on the wall, and a basement that is colder than it should be. It isn't just that Claire abruptly up and left her live-in boyfriend and is now being stalked by a psychopathic realtor. Claire is... off. Claire is sleepwalking. Sometimes when Claire begins to speak, it isn't her voice that comes out at all. Claire begins to obsess over a cult her biological family was a part of, The Family of Fire. As she gets closer to a secret at the heart of the old house in the Toronto neighborhood of Parkdale, she is also getting closer to losing herself. And after Claire goes missing, with the help of co-worker-turned-friend-Owen, Judith vies to track her down, even if it means diving into a history that may have been better left untouched. Even if it means dealing with spirits that really do not like her. Parkdale Haunt is about friendship and identity, trauma, cults, demons, and rituals, and, most frighteningly, the Toronto real estate market.
- Out of the Ashes (Full Cast Science Fiction Horror Series ) Out of the Ashes follows a group surviving a post-apocalyptic world caused by the hubris of humanity. When the group emerges from their shelter, they will have to learn to navigate a new world. One of myths, legends and monsters.
- The Sink: A Sleep Aid (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series ) A new comedy-horror from Natasha Hodgson (Kill The Beast, Beef and Dairy Network, Tom Neenan is Not All Men). We'll play your dreams back to you, so you can see yourself clearly.
- Children of the Stones (Full Cast Horror Series ) The Stones are calling you. Do you feel the shiver? Mia Brake and her archaeometrist father Adam move to Milbury, a village framed by an ancient stone circle. But all is not right in Milbury. The stones emit a strange power. Children of the Stones is a new adaptation of the cult 1977 television series - described by comedian Stewart Lee as 'the scariest programme ever made for children.'
- Ghost Tape (Full Cast Horror Series ) We follow Tessa Dixon at a remote army base in Texas as she deals with the psychological and physical trauma of basic training. When she finds a tape of her grandfather's labeled 'Ghost Tape' and plays the haunting audio, she unknowingly unleashes a deadly manifestation of her own family's horrible misdeeds.
- Halloween in Hell (Full Cast Musical Horror Series ) A scripted horror musical podcast, just in time for Halloween. Rock legend Tommy Lee stars as the Devil, featuring original music and performances by Machine Gun Kelly, iann dior, Dana Dentata, phem, and 24kGoldn. On Halloween, Satan lures three performers to his sadistic game show in Hell where they must perform or die. The winner returns to Earth. The losers will play out their showbiz careers in fiery hellfire and damnation.
- 13 Days of Halloween (Aaron Mahnke) (Narrated Horror Anthology ) Aaron Mahnke's 13 Days of Halloween is a unique auditory adventure that tows the line between ethereal horror and thrilling campfire tales. Each episode explores a different chilling story from the residents of the mysterious Hawthorne Manor. You'll be guided through this fictional boarding house by a man known only as the Caretaker (voiced by actor Keegan-Michael Key), and brought to life with powerful, 360-degree surround sound technology. Listeners will spend 13 days immersed in stories about the ghosts of dead lovers, eerie children who stalk the night, and weddings gone horribly wrong.
- Koszmar (Full Cast Horror Anthology) Polish for Nightmare. The series is based on a compilations of actual occurring Nightmares.
- Live From The Darkness (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series) Randy Aspinwall inherited a wealthy estate along with a magical silver key but became trapped there by a strange forcefield. He found a top of the line laptop in the mansion's study that he uses to produce a weekly podcast in the sub basement where he interviews weird denizens live, from the darkness!
- Haunted House Flippers (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series) Hilarity and spooky shenanigans occur when Tom and Janet set out to renovate and resell an inherited home that turns out to be intensely haunted.
- The NoNap Podcast (Narrated Children's Horror Anthology) A short series of spooky and wholesome tales for children.
- Ray Can't Sleep (Full Cast Horror Series) Ray, a struggling Los Angeles based musician hasn't slept in over a month. His search for a cure takes him through the underbelly of Hollywood, and inadvertently unearths a conspiracy hiding in plain site, since the dawn of humanity.
- The Hammer Lane (Full Cast Horror Anthology) The Hammer Lane is a DIY bi-monthly horror and sci-fi anthology radio series brought to you by independent artists for the express purpose of bringing back that cold pit in your stomach and the invisible hand just hovering over the back of your neck. Each episode, a new tale! Each scare, an age-old terror! Prepare yourselves for a turbulent ride down a long stretch of road to that space in time just between the last gasp of dusk and the first moan of dawn, when even your god is unsure of what could happen...
- When The Night Comes Out (Narrated Horror Anthology ) A horror fiction anthology podcast featuring the writing of horror author Bryan Alaspa and the narration of voice talent Allie James.
- SeanceCast (Narrated Horror Anthology ) A brand new horror sketch podcast landing in time for Halloween.
- Never Fear (Narrated Horror Anthology ) Never Fear brings you original stories on the lighter side of the Horror and Dark Fantasy genres.
- Curdle Holler (Full Cast Horror Comedy Series) "Curdle Holler" is an audio comedy series about a kooky Halloween town, where former newscasters Chip Clearly and Bonita von Wangencamp run the Bootique gift shop and help their undead friends solve crises both ridiculous and spooky.
- Phantom Limb (Full Cast Horror Anthology) PHANTOM LIMB is a horror and weird fiction anthology featuring original music and sound design–seven diverse, brand-new stories of terror and awe from four Virginia writers.
- Incarnation Read (Narrated Horror Anthology ) INCARNATION READ is a horror fiction podcast. Released once every other week, it tells stories of inhuman impulses, of gaps between reality and nightmare, of things that are seen that can't possibly be real––stories for a listener to hear, and to experience. To listen to each story is to live the tale oneself, emulated through the sounds of the narrative as they distort it, interrupt it, sometimes batter and attack it. The line between narrator and listener is blurred, and beneath it all is a secret lying dormant, something dark and sentient waiting just under the surface of everyday life. . .
- The Shadow Diaries (Full Cast Horror Series) Kara Hayward (MOONRISE KINGDOM) and Madelaine Petsch (RIVERDALE) star in this brand new genre bending series, which follows wide-eyed journalist Shana Secco (Hayward) as she gets her first assignment, to shadow her childhood musical idol, the elusive pop star Eliza Gold (Petsch). As she sets out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, getting a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a global pop sensation, Shana soon finds that Eliza Gold's surprise comeback may actually be the sinister workings of a mysterious group known as "The Divinity." But while Shana settles into her new life amongst the rich and famous, she is forced to question her own sanity and wellbeing as demonic forces begin to creep into every aspect of her life. Will Shana be able to look past the celeb parties, exclusive clubs and five-star treatment as Eliza Gold's new best friend, or will they both succumb to the Hellish forces of The Divinity?
Previous weekly Audio-Drama.com links
Scientific evidence and cross-country variability in cloth mask policies
This post focuses strictly on the controversial issue of recommending or mandating cloth masks for the general public during COVID-19. For a regularly updated executive summary of the evolving scientific understanding of COVID-19 in general, see here. Overall, the available scientific and policy evidence indicates that mandating or even just formally recommending to the general public to wear a cloth mask in nonhealthcare settings is unwise. These 23 highly respected Canadian epidemiologists and public health experts have recommended the following standard for all COVID-19 related policies:
COVID-19 control must be balanced with basic human rights. People need to be empowered to make informed choices about their own lives and the level of risk they are prepared to accept. Universal public health measures are appropriate only when they are truly necessary, supported by strong evidence, and when there are no other alternatives...Any requirements for mandatory masks must be based on strong evidence...Bearing in mind the foregoing standard, what follows is a review of the academic literature demonstrating that the requirement for strong evidence is not being met (the other components of the foregoing standard pertaining to human rights and personal autonomy are discussed in section #2 of this post):
- On 20 November 2020, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews published Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses, (Jefferson et al., 2020). The review noted:
Medical or surgical masks: Seven studies took place in the community, and two studies in healthcare workers. Compared with wearing no mask, wearing a mask may make little to no difference in how many people caught a flu-like illness (9 studies; 3507 people); and probably makes no difference in how many people have flu confirmed by a laboratory test (6 studies; 3005 people). Unwanted effects were rarely reported, but included discomfort. N95/P2 respirators: Four studies were in healthcare workers, and one small study was in the community. Compared with wearing medical or surgical masks, wearing N95/P2 respirators probably makes little to no difference in how many people have confirmed flu (5 studies; 8407 people); and may make little to no difference in how many people catch a flu-like illness (5 studies; 8407 people) or respiratory illness (3 studies; 7799 people). Unwanted effects were not well reported; discomfort was mentioned.
- On 18 November 2020, Annals of Internal Medicine published Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers. A Randomized Controlled Trial, (Bundgaard et al., 2020). This is the first and only RCT we have on mask effectiveness against COVID-19 in community settings, but its findings of ineffectiveness are fully expected in light of all the other RCTs we have on other respiratory viruses. The results of the study:
A total of 3030 participants were randomly assigned to the recommendation to wear masks, and 2994 were assigned to control; 4862 completed the study. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 42 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53 control participants (2.1%). The between-group difference was −0.3 percentage point (95% CI, −1.2 to 0.4 percentage point; P = 0.38) (odds ratio, 0.82 [CI, 0.54 to 1.23]; P = 0.33). Multiple imputation accounting for loss to follow-up yielded similar results. Although the difference observed was not statistically significant, the 95% CIs are compatible with a 46% reduction to a 23% increase in infection.
- On 17 November 2020, International Journal of Infectious Diseases published Meta-analysis on facemask use in community settings to prevent respiratory infection transmission shows no effect, (Gómez-Ochoa & Muka, 2020). The authors noted:
there were no significant differences between medical facemasks use only and controls in the odds of developing laboratory-confirmed influenza and influenza-like illness. Similarly, no differences in laboratory-confirmed influenza risk were observed when comparing mask use solely versus combined intervention of face mask and handwashing, indicating that facemask as solely intervention in community is not associated with reducing respiratory infection. Given the studies used medical masks, cloth masks' efficacy is expected to be even lower; a randomized cluster trial showed that respiratory infection is higher among health care personnel using cloth masks than using medical masks (MacIntyre et al., 2015)...Due to these divergent results and the lack of high-quality research in this area, strong recommendations for facemask use in the community context should be issued with caution until new evidence is available to show their effectiveness. This is even more important, considering that several studies showed that mask use is associated with headache incidence and worsening of pre-existing headache (Lim et al., 2006, Rebmann et al., 2013, Szeinuk et al., 2000, Radonovich, 2009, Shenal et al., 2011).
- On 27 October 2020, Annals of Internal Medicine published "Update Alert 3: Masks for Prevention of Respiratory Virus Infections, Including SARS-CoV-2, in Health Care and Community Settings" (Chou et al., 2020), to summarize very recent research on masks up until 2 October 2020. The authors noted the serious methodological limitations of the more recent studies and concluded:
The strength of evidence for mask use and risk for SARS-CoV-2 in community settings remained insufficient...Evidence for mask use versus nonuse and comparing masks types in health care settings remained insufficient...There were no new studies on the effectiveness and safety of mask reuse or extended use.
- On 25 September 2020, the academic journal Frontiers in Medicine published Effectiveness of Surgical Face Masks in Reducing Acute Respiratory Infections in Non-Healthcare Settings: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, by (Wang et al., 2020). The review failed to find a statistically significant effect and concluded:
Surgical mask wearing among individuals in non-healthcare settings is not significantly associated with reduction in ARI [acute respiratory infections] incidence in this meta-review.
- On 22 September 2020, the academic journal Environmental Research published The spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain: Hygiene habits, sociodemographic profile, mobility patterns and comorbidities, by (Rodríguez-Barranco et al., 2021). The authors noted (the quote is from section 5.1. - page 7 of the pdf.):
In the case of masks, the results of this study slightly suggest the opposite effect to that of protection, possibly due to misuse of masks by the general population untrained in their use.
- On 23 July 2020, University of Oxford's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has issued an overview of the ongoing research on cloth mask efficacy. The authors stated that:
The increasing polarised and politicised views on whether to wear masks in public during the current COVID-19 crisis hides a bitter truth on the state of contemporary research and the value we pose on clinical evidence to guide our decisions...There is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks. For instance, high rates of infection with cloth masks could be due to harms caused by cloth masks...The numerous systematic reviews that have been recently published all include the same evidence base so unsurprisingly broadly reach the same conclusions. However, recent reviews using lower quality evidence found masks to be effective...This abandonment of the scientific modus operandi and lack of foresight has left the field wide open for the play of opinions, radical views and political influence.
- University of Cambridge biomedical scientists have written in 2020 in the British Medical Journal:
The evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in reducing viral transmission is very weak. Few studies examine the use of face masks in community settings; those that do find no evidence of reduced transmission compared with no face masks...Efforts to communicate a position so strongly in favour of widespread use of masks in the community...in the face of persistent evidence gaps, risk promoting policy based more on eminence than evidence. The unintended consequences of unequivocal advocacy of a contested position go beyond the downsides of policy implementation: they include the potential erosion of trust in science more generally, when the measures put forward fail to live up to their promise, or result in problems that could be, or had been, anticipated.
- The gold standard of evidence in biomedical research is the randomized controlled trial. A systematic review of cloth mask research published in 2020 in the academic journal Emerging Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that:
Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.
- The foregoing finding has been reinforced by a Bayesian analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials. Perski et al., 2020, concluded:
Available evidence from RCTs is equivocal as to whether or not wearing face masks in community settings results in a reduction in clinically- or laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections.
- A systematic review by Brainard et al., 2020, concluded:
The evidence is not sufficiently strong to support widespread use of facemasks as a protective measure against COVID-19. However, there is enough evidence to support the use of facemasks for short periods of time by particularly vulnerable individuals when in transient higher risk situations.
- A systematic review and meta-analysis by Jefferson et al., 2020, noted:
We included 15 randomised trials investigating the effect of masks (14 trials) in healthcare workers and the general population and of quarantine (1 trial). We found no trials testing eye protection. Compared to no masks there was no reduction of influenza-like illness (ILI) cases (Risk Ratio 0.93, 95%CI 0.83 to 1.05) or influenza (Risk Ratio 0.84, 95%CI 0.61-1.17) for masks in the general population, nor in healthcare workers (Risk Ratio 0.37, 95%CI 0.05 to 2.50).
- A most recent systematic review of 18 randomized controlled trials and of 11 other systematic reviews by Dugré et al., 2020, concluded:
This systematic review found limited evidence that the use of masks might reduce the risk of viral respiratory infections.
- A systematic review and meta-analysis of potential health risks of face masks by Bakhit et al., 2020, concluded that:
There are insufficient data to quantify all of the adverse effects that might reduce the acceptability, adherence, and effectiveness of face masks. New research on facemasks should assess and report the harms and downsides. Urgent research is also needed on methods and designs to mitigate the downsides of facemask wearing, particularly the assessment of alternatives such as face shields.
- A peer-reviewed paper from August 2020 by Martin et al., 2020 assessing the overall wisdom of recommending masks for the general public, noted:
There is very limited evidence that cloth face coverings reduce the burden of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19...Few studies examine the use of face coverings in community settings: when taken in aggregate, those that do find no statistically significant evidence of reduced transmission compared with no face coverings...Rather than communicate a falsely unequivocal message about the value of face coverings, researchers should articulate scientific disagreement, the nature of scientific uncertainty, and its implications for how we act to improve knowledge and action.
- The World Health Organization admits to this day that:
Non-medical, fabric masks are being used by many people in public areas, but there has been limited evidence on their effectiveness...
- A September 2020 empirical study (preprint) by (van den Broek-Altenburg et al., 2020) highlighted the foolishness of rushing to recommend or mandate masks for the general public. One of the study's key findings was that:
...Wearing a facial mask outside work increased probability of COVID-19 infection.
- Multiple studies from multiple research groups indicate that cloth masks for the general public are likely to be ineffective and even counterproductive in nonhealthcare settings since they may (a) be used inappropriately, (b) exacerbate other health problems and (c) lead to risk compensation behaviors through a false sense of safety - see (Bundgaard et al., 2020), (Gómez-Ochoa & Muka, 2020), (Jefferson et al., 2020), (Wang et al., 2020), (Chou et al., 2020), (Long et al., 2020), (Rodríguez-Barranco et al., 2021), (van den Broek-Altenburg et al., 2020), (Klompas et al., 2020), (Neilson, 2016), (Chodosh et al., 2020), (Borovoy et al., 2020a and 2020b), (Luckman et al., 2020), (Hanna et al., 2020), (bin-Reza et al., 2012), (Chughtai et al., 2013), (Chughtai et al., 2019), (MacIntyre et al., 2015), (Rancourt, 2020a), (Jefferson & Heneghan, 2020), (Fikenzer et al., 2020), (Shakya et al., 2017), (Lazzarino et al., 2020), (Aggarwal et al., 2020), (Hardie, 2016), (Jacobs et al., 2009), (Chandrasekaran & Fernandes, 2020), (Tong et al., 2015), (Saunders-Hastings et al., 2017), (Rancourt, 2020b), (Person et al., 2018), (Donaldson, 2020),(Aminnejad & Hormati, 2020), (Giacalone et al., 2020), (Szepietowski et al., 2020), (Bakhit et al., 2020), (Hunter et al., 2020), (Onishi, 2020), (Dugré et al., 2020), (Perski et al., 2020), (Xiao et al., 2020), (Brainard et al., 2020), (Grote & Izagaren, 2020), (Jefferson et al., 2020), and (Martin et al., 2020). Less reliable, but more vivid cautionary tales (here 1, here 2, here 3, here 4, and here 5) in the recent media portray the human story behind these dry academic findings.
- Dr. Martin Kulldorff (Professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks) on masks;
- Dr. Sunetra Gupta (Professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases) speaking in October 2020 on the topic of masks;
- Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations) speaking in October 2020 on the topic of masks;
- An open letter from September 2020 signed by 418 medical doctors states:
...Masks belong in contexts where contacts with proven at-risk groups or people with upper respiratory complaints take place, and in a medical context/hospital-retirement home setting. They reduce the risk of droplet infection by sneezing or coughing. Oral masks in healthy individuals are ineffective against the spread of viral infections. Wearing a mask is not without side effects. Oxygen deficiency (headache, nausea, fatigue, loss of concentration) occurs fairly quickly, an effect similar to altitude sickness. Every day we now see patients complaining of headaches, sinus problems, respiratory problems and hyperventilation due to wearing masks. In addition, the accumulated CO2 leads to a toxic acidification of the organism which affects our immunity. Some experts even warn of an increased transmission of the virus in case of inappropriate use of the mask. Our Labour Code (Codex 6) refers to a CO2 content (ventilation in workplaces) of 900 ppm, maximum 1200 ppm in special circumstances. After wearing a mask for one minute, this toxic limit is considerably exceeded to values that are three to four times higher than these maximum values. Anyone who wears a mask is therefore in an extreme poorly ventilated room. Inappropriate use of masks without a comprehensive medical cardio-pulmonary test file is therefore not recommended by recognised safety specialists for workers. Hospitals have a sterile environment in their operating rooms where staff wear masks and there is precise regulation of humidity / temperature with appropriately monitored oxygen flow to compensate for this, thus meeting strict safety standards.
- Almost 100% of known transmissions of corona happen from extended interaction (home, work, public transit) - you are very unlikely to get it from a stranger passing you by the sidewalk or by a grocery aisle - see here and here.
- Cloth masks are ineffective against transmission of COVID-19 through aerosolized respiratory droplets (i.e. smaller droplets <5 μm that remain in the air for hours) and this airborne route of transmission has just been emphasized by many experts to be the most likely primary means of infection. The solutions that would work to address this route are not cloth masks, which can filter only larger droplets (>5 μm), but "social distancing, limiting interaction indoors, avoiding air recirculation, improved natural and artificial ventilation, and innovative engineering solutions which collect and neutralise aerosols to provide clean air in personal and community spaces" (Wilson et al., 2020). For more details, see also the peer-reviewed letter to the WHO signed by 239 experts, this paper from August 4, 2020, as well as the corroboration from (Donaldson, 2020).
- This Finnish governmental report concluded that the majority of systematic reviews of empirical studies on mask efficacy found no benefit to wearing masks.
- Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have also officially recommended against mask-wearing by the general population. Note that here we are talking about the official epidemiological boards of experts of countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, that have reviewed all that evidence and concluded that masks should not be recommended to the public, let alone made mandatory; these are formal boards of experts with PhDs, not the "unwashed" or "uneducated" masses that believe in conspiracies and fake news.
- As of late July 2020, 19 states in the USA decided against mandating masks: Wisconsin, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Alaska. Data from US areas with widely different frequencies of mask wearing do not support the idea that cloth masks are effective: e.g. California versus Arizona, as of late July 2020. A CDC study from mid-October 2020 found that "the overwhelming majority of people getting coronavirus wore masks". In November 2020, a preprint widely shared on social media as putative evidence that mask mandates in the US have been effective was withdrawn by its authors because the new data - i.e. rising infections in areas with mask mandates - do not support their initial conclusions.
- Oxford University Professor Carl Heneghan explained on 13 August that UK's recent experience suggests masks for the general public have been ineffective. In a interview from 29 August he stated: "the high quality trial evidence for cloth masks suggest they increase your rate of reinfection".
- This analysis from 20 October written by a strong advocate for masks, as well as this recent collection of graphs from around the world depicting number of COVID-19 cases before and after the start of mask mandates strongly suggests that universal wearing of masks has been an ineffective intervention.
- The Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has re-assessed the evidence and announced that wearing masks outdoors is not necessary. This change is in line with research at the University of Illinois, Chicago "Masks-for-all for COVID-19 Not Based on Sound Data" & 16 July follow-up commentary.
- Widespread use of cloth masks has been pushed by the media as a (putative) solution to a specific problem: the risk of asymptomatic/presymptomatic transmission of COVID-19. We have recently learned that the problem is smaller than initially believed. The World Health Organization has acknowledged on 8 June that there is strong evidence from detailed contact tracing showing that asymptomatic transmission is possible, but rare. Under pressure, it has backpedalled the acknowledgment one day later, but the rabbit is out of the bag and independent peer-reviewed empirical research (see here 1, here 2, here 3, here 4, and here 5) supports the initial acknowledgment of inefficient asymptomatic/presymptomatic transmission (R0 <0.1, compared to R0 of 2-3 for symptomatic transmission; that's 20-30 times less!). Even if one believed that cloth masks work, a cost-benefit calculus of public health policy would still show that healthy/asymptomatic people need not wear them. If alive, Richard Feynman would probably say that addressing COVID-19 with cloth masks is a great illustration of cargo cult science.
- Because the topic of masks has become morally-loaded ("Do the decent thing, and wear a mask"; "Be a good human and protect the vulnerable"), we must be aware of people's tendency to "often choose morality over hard evidence" and control for it. We need to look at the totality of available evidence, to see the general patterns that emerge, the outliers, and the variance in the quality of the research designs involved. We need to keep in mind Carnap and Hempel's total evidence rule, lest we jump to silly conclusions. We also need to keep in mind that because of mob pressure, there is an asymmetry as to which science gets publicized and which science gets banned and overlooked. We know that researchers like Michael Osterholm who expressed reservations about masks have been harassed by the pro-mask crowd. The science one gets to see these days on social media is the science approved by the mob - there are very clear signs of pervasive COVID-19 related censorship, including the purging of sites that showed evidence that masks are ineffective.