Most blue surgical face masks used by many during the pandemic are not enough to avoid people from being infected with COVID-19, an alarming new study has found.
The study from the University of Waterloo in Canada showed N95 or KN95 masks did the best job in containing aerosol droplets from the wearer’s mouth.
The blue, cloth surgical masks that have become popular during the pandemic were found to be only 10 percent effective as it does not cover the face properly.
‘There is no question it is beneficial to wear any face covering, both for protection in close proximity and at a distance in a room,’ study leader Serhiy Yarusevych, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering, said in a statement.
‘However, there is a very serious difference in the effectiveness of different masks when it comes to controlling aerosols.’
Yarusevych and team said that many people wear masks that don’t fit their faces properly, unlike the N95, which straps itself tightly around the wearer.
This causes aerosol droplets to escape through multiple openings between a person’s face and the cloth mask, which could spread COVID-19 in populous areas.
The N95 was conversely able to filter over 50% of aerosol droplets while the other half is dispersed above the wearer’s head.
‘A lot of this may seem like common sense,’ Yarusevych comments. ‘There is a reason, for instance, that medical practitioners wear N95 masks – they work much better. The novelty here is that we have provided solid numbers and rigorous analysis to support that assumption.’
Yarusevych team added that ventilation tests revealed even modest ventilation rates provide about the same level of protection as the highest quality masks.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden’s former COVID-19 advisor and top epidemiologist warned Americans ‘that many of the face cloth coverings that people wear are not very effective’.
Michael Osterholm spoke with CNN saying that people need to start wearing N95 respirators which are more effective against COVID-19.
‘We’re in a very unfortunate situation, we’ve really brought this country to a point of confusion which really misses the main point that we should be focusing on vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,’ said Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
He explained his contention with the term ‘masking’ saying, ‘You know I wish we could get rid of the term masking because in fact it implies that anything you put in front of your face works and if I could just add an nuance to that which hopefully doesn’t add more confusion is we know today that many of the face cloth coverings that people wear are not very effective in reducing any of the virus movement in or out.’
The CDC has been criticized for its confusing stance on masks after it reversed its mask guidelines. But cities and states say they need to see the evidence before revising their own policies.
Federal officials say unpublished data showed vaccinated people infected with COVID-19 may be able to transmit the virus, leading them to recommend that everyone should wear a mask indoors in areas of high transmission.
Texas and Florida have championed mandates banning mask requirements in the classroom, but on Friday, the Supreme Court of Texas rejected Governor Greg Abbott’s latest bid to scrap mask mandates.