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Crazy Munich doctor earns nationwide press coverage with call for Germans to resume indoor masking because "we have a lot of infections right now," even though we don't

Crazy Munich doctor earns nationwide press coverage with call for Germans to resume indoor masking because "we have a lot of infections right now," even though we don't
Photo by Nino Maghradze / Unsplash

Clemens Wendtner is an oncologist and head physician at the Munich Schwabing Clinic. Despite his total lack of epidemiological qualifications, he rose to prominence in the pandemic because he ended up treating some of the very first officially recognized Covid infections in Germany. In those early days, he was fond of insisting that Corona was nothing to worry about because it was “in no way more dangerous than influenza.” In the course of April, however, he lost his mind and began shrieking that SARS-2 is “a completely new type of virus that … is not even remotely comparable to other known pathogens.” Since that day he has missed no opportunity to preach about the grave risk of SARS-CoV-2. This naturally qualifies him as a “Corona expert” in the eyes of the Bavarian press, who will just never stop interviewing this sad deranged man. In late 2021 Wendtner arbitrarily decided that Germany needed a vaccination rate of 95% to bring Omicron under control and spent the early months of 2022 demanding vaccine mandates, warning against the relaxation of pandemic restrictions, and panicking about Long Covid.

This week, some journalist at the Augsburger Allgemeine with nothing better to do decided it was time to dust off the lunatic Wendtner yet again and see if he has any fresh hygiene wisdom to offer the public. In case you thought all that crazy might have boiled off sometime in the past year, this is how the man appeared for his interview:

Mostly he just rambles about vaccines and Long Covid and how dangerous new SARS-2 variants might be. It’s all stuff we’ve heard before, and I’d let it pass in silence, were it not for this one highly obnoxious bit:

Professor Wendtner, are you really still masking in your private life?

Yes. I wear a mask professionally of course, but also privately. When I fly or ride the underground, for example. However, I notice that I am one of the very few. But I am resilient, I don’t care. I protect myself and my patients, whom I don’t want to infect. My experience and that of my colleagues is that we have a lot of respiratory infections right now, including Covid. We are therefore preparing a campaign together with the university hospitals called “From O to O.” We want to encourage people to wear masks from October to Easter, especially in public, enclosed spaces, on a voluntary basis, of course.

The O’s in “O to O” stands for Oktober and Ostern (or Easter), which is the winter tire season in Germany. Wendtner’s ridiculous publicity campaign is an attempt to revive the seasonal masking program outlined in the much-ridiculed Infection Protection Act devised by Karl Lauterbach and Marco Buschmann last year, which likewise attempted to equate mask mandates with winter automobile safety practices. The Deutsche Presse-Agentur has picked up Wendtner’s absurd appeal, and so the national press is now suddenly full of reporting that “Munich clinics are promoting Covid masking.” I hope you will join me in thanking Wendtner for filling our newspapers yet again with baseless appeals to strap plastic to our faces. His services to the Federal Republic are immeasurable, and I for one will never forget them.

That Wendtner should frame his call for community masking as a seasonal strategy, rather than a response to any particular problem, is a great tell. In fact nothing much is happening, virologically speaking, in Germany right now. The acute respiratory infection consultation incidence is totally normal and at pre-pandemic levels:

The hospitalization incidence shows the same picture:

Wendtner just likes masks. He likes wearing them and he likes seeing other people wear them. He wants people to mask whether they are sick or healthy, whether hospitals are full or empty, and whether viruses are circulating or not. More masking is better in Wendtner’s world, and this above all is the problem with superstitious hygiene practices. Because they’re totally arbitrary and have no basis in reality, they can be invoked in response to literally anything, and no amount of evidence can ever do away with them.

Of course, before Covid, the good Dr. Wendtner had a very different understanding of masks and their utility. On 24 February 2020, he explained to the press that community masking was “pointless” because “humidification of the mask nullifies its protection within 20 minutes.” On 10 March he repeated this assessment, explaining to Tagesschau that “There are very clear indications that prolonged masking is pointless,” and on 27 March he advised the German public health insurer ProVita that “wearing masks … in public is pointless.” Ironically, the community mask mandates that a freshly converted Wendtner went on to support in the course of April and May have done nothing but yield a wealth of data proving that Wendtner 1.0 was right all along. Masks don’t work, masking is stupid, and anybody placing their faith in them is a self-discrediting idiot.

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