What masks are the most effective against COVID-19?

Since the start of this pandemic, it has been important when going out that individuals wear masks to protect themselves and others to rescue the spread of the virus.

To make sure we are spreading the least amount of germs and particles as possible, it is crucial we pick the most beneficial mask against COVID-19. We are going to be breaking down which masks protect the most.

1) N95 Masks

N95 masks provide the most protection out of any other mask. This is because of the mask’s tight seal around the face, not letting any particles in or out. A N95 has woven fibers that filter airborne pathogens and reduces the risk of infection to 94% to 99%.

According to the research from American Association for the Advancement of Science, while a N95 wearer was speaking, only 0.1% of droplets were transmitted through the mask. Because of how much protection these masks offer, they have been reserved for medical and essential workers during this pandemic.

2) Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are a close second to the N95. These masks are made of non-woven material that blocks small and larger respiratory droplets.

According to the National Library of Medicine, surgical masks are three times as effective at blocking particles than homemade ones. Although these are easier to obtain to the public, they should be reserved for medical and essential workers during a pandemic.

3) Fabric/cloth masks

Fabric and cloth masks, that have 3 layers, are less effective than both the N95 and surgical masks. This also includes masks made out of cotton.

According to Loma Linda University Health, fabric and cloth masks reduce the spread of droplets and can be easily purchased. They are reusable, but have to be washed after each use and cannot be shared. These masks also eliminate waste because the wearer does not have to throw it away after each use.

4) Masks with valves

These masks are a great idea but only on the drawing board. While these masks protect the wearer from droplets being spread, they are not trapping the particles from inside the mask. These particles go straight through the valve.

They do a good job protecting the wearer, but because of the one-way valves, they don’t offer much protection to the people around the wearer. If the wearer is contagious, either knowingly or unknowingly, they could still be spreading the virus to others around them

Loma Linda University Health

The main purpose of wearing a mask is to protect yourself and the people around you. For this reason, it would be more simple to get a standard fabric mask.

5) Neck gaiters

These are by far the worst masks to wear according to several studies. A gaiter is made up of very thin, breathable material, which is uselessness.

A study from Duke confirms that wearing a gaiter is almost as bad as wearing no mask at all. Dr. Vincent Diaz, who is an expert in ocular inflammatory and infectious diseases at Yale Medical School, described the effect of what the gaiter does to virus-carrying particles.

What they found was that when the subjects were talking for 10 minutes, [gaiters] seemed to allow particles [spewed by the wearer] to break up and even spread faster

Vincent Diaz, MD, MBA

After all the research was finished, we concluded that the worst mask overall to wear is no mask at all. To protect yourself and others around you, do not forget to wear a mask while going out!

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