Do Face Masks Work?
The recommendation to wear face masks by both governments and health experts has been overwhelming.
With most countries, the UK included, starting to lift the lockdown protocol you can’t help but wonder if the face masks work and how they protect you from contracting COVID-19. Thankfully, in a short time, numerous studies have provided better insight into the use of masks and their effectiveness in limiting the spread of the virus.
Is there any evidence that wearing masks is effective in preventing COVID-19?
According to several studies, there is some evidence that face masks are an effective method of controlling the spread of the virus.
One of the experiments conducted is from a laboratory study using high-speed video of respiratory droplets and the ability of different masks to block them. The study found that between 20 to 500 micrometres of droplets were generated using a single phrase.
The study also found that almost all the droplets were blocked when a damp washcloth covered the mouth.
Do masks protect the people wearing them or the people around them?
The benefits of wearing a face mask cut across both divides. Since some people are asymptomatic and it takes up to 14 days for the symptoms to present themselves, the primary goal of wearing a mask is for people with COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the virus to other people by managing the projectile of their droplets.
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People without the virus also stand to gain from the benefits of wearing a mask. However, the masks are more effective as a “source control” because they prevent the larger droplets expelled from evaporating into smaller ones and also limiting distance.
Does the type of mask you wear matter?
Masks come in various materials and designs. Studies have compared the effectiveness of each of the materials and the various types of masks in controlling the spread of the virus.
- Surgical Masks – Surgical masks are also called medical masks. They are a loose-fitting disposable mask that covers the nose and mouth and protect from contact with contaminated droplets, sprays, and splashes. Surgical masks also filter out large particles in the air and protect others by reducing exposure to the wearer’s saliva and respiratory fluids.
- N95 Masks – N95 masks offer more protection than a surgical mask because they can filter out small and large particles. The mask is designed to block up to 95% of small particles. Some N95 masks have a valve that makes them easier to breathe through. However, with these masks, the wearer releases unfiltered air.
- Cloth Masks – Cloth masks are designed to trap droplets coming from the wearer’s mouth after a cough, sneeze, or even talking. Using cloth masks can reduce the spread of the virus from people who have the virus but don’t realize it.
Countries that required the use of facemasks and conducted testing, isolation, and social distancing early in the pandemic have managed to slow the spread of the virus.
According to studies and proof from countries that have had success in reducing the spread of the virus, face masks are useful, especially when you have 100% of the people wearing masks.
One report found that 80% of the population wearing face masks would do more to mitigate the spread of the virus than a strict lockdown.