The "cloth mask to ward off evil death particles," or surgical mask, has a proven history of effectiveness for over a century.
Occam's Razor would look back at the past, see a series of pandemics going back to the dawn of history, and conclude that COVID was yet another one.
The fact that humans have done badly in the fight against COVID despite the inconsistent precautions we have taken certainly does not prove that things would have gone better if we hadn't taken the precautions.
One of the things that's very clear is that a sizable minority of the Western population will not cooperate with what would appear to be common sense public health measures because of deeply-held delusional worldviews. That some countries are pushing back is logical consequence of this horde of arrogant ignorant drooling mindless fuckwits who are a danger to themselves and others.