Masks are effective. They limit the spread of covid-19 that is the result of the largest study of masks ever involving nearly 35,0,000 people across 600 rural villages. In Bangladesh researchers from the universities of stanford and Yale found a 30 increase in mask wearing led to a 10 drop in infections. Scientists believe we can’t mask our way out of the pandemic. But it is one important layer of protection besides physical distancing testing and getting vaccinated.
Nowadays there is even an emoji for it a round yellow face partially covered by a piece of cloth. Face masks have become a globally recognized symbol of the pandemic. While they have been the subject of political controversy the simple act of covering your mouth and nose has been and remains an essential tool to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. At the beginning of the pandemic professional masks were in short supply. So, people around the world revved up their sewing machines and used handkerchiefs, t-shirts and vacuum cleaner bags to produce diy masks and they are still used in many parts of the world. Scientists found that fabric masks afford some protection for the wearer and others.
But they usually have an inadequate seal and block only a fraction of the droplets. A fabric mask is better than none. But there are better alternatives such as this simple protective piece for the mouth and nose known as a surgical mask. It consists of several layers of paper and fabric with a thin wire to make it fit over the nose when the wearer coughs or sneezes the surgical mask blocks the large droplets. But when inhaling air gets in through the sides that means it mainly protects others from infection rather than the wearer. There are also so-called filtering face pieces or ffp masks which are also worn by medical personnel. They fit snuggly around the nose, mouth and chin and filter out the tiniest airborne particles.
The most effective type, lets no viruses in or out an exhalation valve makes breathing easier. But increases the risk of viruses escaping so an unvalved ffp mask protects both best the wearer and those they encounter no matter which mask you wear. It can only be effective if used with hygiene measures like thorough hand washing and keeping a safe distance from others.