New research indicates masks are effective in mitigating spread of COVID-19

GERMANY- A research conducted by Chinese and German researchers has showed that masks are effective against spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus(severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the agent that causes corona virus disease 2019.

The team, led by Hang Su of Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz has established that the efficacy of masks against the virus is dependent on the viral load in a given environment.

In most environments, however, it was found that the abundance of the virus is low. Therefore, surgical masks which exhibit a variable range of viral penetration are an effective preventive measure.

This comes at a time when there is global controversy surrounding wearing of masks especially after getting vaccinated. Several clinical trials that have been conducted have generated inconclusive and varying results.

Recently, the American CDC released an advisory that fully vaccinated people need not wear masks. This raised fear among the vulnerable and those yet to be vaccinated. As of May 23, only 39.2 percent of America’s population had been fully vaccinated according to CDC.

In the research, the scientists noted that masks in combination with other methods of prevention would be a highly effective method to reduce transmission even in environments which have a dense viral load.

Areas of concern in virus transmission include indoor environments, hospitals, and medical centres. More advanced masks with improved filter efficiency and other protective equipment will be of great assistance in mitigating the spread of the pandemic.

A combination of measures has been established to have synergistic implications. For instance, use of ventilation was found to change an environment from being virus-rich to being virus-limited.

Social distancing, a measure that contributes to reducing ambient virus concentrations, has also been found effective when used in combination with masks and ventilation.

Su and colleagues note that, “the more measures are used, the more effective each measure will be in containing the virus transmission.”

High compliance and correct use of masks is important to ensure the effectiveness of universal masking in the fight against COVID-19.

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