Unmasking the Mask Debate

I kid. In fact, this post will not be on whether masks are useful or not. Because we have ample evidence to show that masks, when used appropriately, reduces the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19). Instead, today I want to spend some time discussing what kinds of masks are effective, and what arenโ€™t.

While medical ๐—ก๐Ÿต๐Ÿฑ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ธ๐˜€ are the most effective, these as well as medical surgical masks should be allocated to those in clinical and healthcare settings only.
๐—›๐˜†๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฑ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ธ๐˜€ โ€“ combining two layers of 600-thread count cotton paired with another material such as silk, chiffon or flannel are the next best. These filter 94% of small particles and 96% of larger particles.
๐—ง๐˜„๐—ผ ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€ of 600-thread count cotton are a close second, filtering out large particles effectively but not as effective in filtering out smaller particles.
What are ๐—ก๐—ข๐—ง ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ:
1- ๐—ฆ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐˜€, ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐˜€: use these as a last resort if you are caught off-guard without a mask handy. They filter under 50% of large and small particles.
2- ๐—ฉ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ธ๐˜€: These are masks that have a valve in the front. These masks do not filter air that you exhale, making them ineffective in reducing transmission.
3- ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ธ ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€: These unfortunately seem to convert large particles into smaller droplets, using this is actually worse than not having a mask on!
4- ๐—ฃ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ต ๐—ด๐˜‚๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐˜€/๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฑ๐˜€: There is simply no point in this, itโ€™s a complete waste of money. They do not protect yourself or others as droplets escape easily from all sides.
๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ธ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป:
๐—™๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฑ๐˜€: Not enough data to compare efficacy of wearing just a face shield vs a mask. These likely protect against direct large droplets, but will have no efficacy on smaller suspended in air particles. In airflow visualization studies, face shields were only able to block 68% of small particles. In addition, there exists a few case reports of infections in individuals wearing just a face shield.
Where face shields can help are for a double layer of protection in conjunction with a mask, ie ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ต ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ธ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฑ. In these situations, face shields protect against direct forceful expulsion of large particles, and are especially useful in protecting eyes.
๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ธ ๐˜‚๐—ฝ!
Signed,
Unambiguous Science

——————————————————————————————–