Face masks or coverings have become a necessity for coronavirus prevention during the pandemic. Many people use a different type of face covering without knowing if it is effective against the virus. For this purpose, scientists from Duke University, North Carolina took 14 different face masks to test their efficacy in the prevention of Covid-19.
This study was published recently in Science academic journal.
The researchers included a wide range of masks in the study. These include the coverings used by health professionals, knitted masks, surgical covering, and neck fleeces. The authors of the study tested the masks in two different conditions. One of those conditions was a control in which no face mask was used.
The scientists tested the dispersal of mouth droplets in the presence of a particular mask. Later they compared it to the control to test the efficacy of that mask.
The study even found a covering that increases the infection risk instead of coronavirus prevention. The researchers found that the neck fleece transmits the droplets by a fraction of 110 percent.
Martin Fischer from Duke University is the planner of this test. He said that the test showed an increased number of droplets as compared to the control. This shocking discovery shows that wearing a fleece is even worse than not wearing any mask at all.
Fischer also said that the purpose of this study is to urge people to wear a mask that is effective for coronavirus prevention. People need to wear face masks but more importantly the one that does the job.
The test showed the second-worst face covering is a bandana. However, the infection risk did not increase in this case. The third worst position was scored by knitted covering for the face. Meanwhile, the most efficient mask is an N95 mask that does not have any valves. This mask had only a 0.1% transmission factor of droplets.
The study found that the surgical mask is the second-best in preventing the coronavirus infection. The third best position was scored by a polypropylene mask.
Researchers also tested homemade face masks made from cotton fabric. These face coverings also substantially reduced the risk of infection. Fischer said that some droplets escape the mouth when a person talks. Therefore, speaking normally can also increase coronavirus transmission. This shows that only coughing and sneezing do not cause the dispersal of droplets in the air.
The researchers also tested the ability of the face-covering to block the droplets. The test showed that some masks are better at preventing the transmission of particles.
Eric Westman is another author of this study. He said that wearing a face-covering or a mask is an easy way of coronavirus prevention. This reduces the transmission of the virus and helps control its spread.
Westman said that nearly half of coronavirus infections spread from asymptomatic people. Such people are carriers of the virus unknowingly. Hence, they can spread the virus easily through coughing or sneezing and even speaking.
He also said that if everyone starts wearing a protective mask, it can reduce the chance of transmission of the virus by 99 percent. Since there is no vaccine for coronavirus available, a face mask is one of the effective ways to contain the outbreak.