Science magazine’s study: How well masks protect from COVID-19

NEWS 09.12.2021 20:36

MaxPlanckResearch science magazine published a study about the protection form COVID-19 the face masks could provide, and the findings that not even three meters were enough to ensure it during less than five minutes if an unvaccinated person standing in the breath of a person with COVID-19 to become infected with almost 100 percent certainty.

“The good news is that if both are wearing well-fitting medical or, even better, FFP2 masks, the risk drops dramatically,” it added.

The study said that “the Göttingen team was surprised at how great the risk of infection with the coronavirus is. We would not have thought that at a distance of several meters it would take so little time for the infectious dose to be absorbed from the breath of a virus carrier,“ Eberhard Bodenschatz, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organisation, said.

“At this distance, the breathing air has already spread in a cone shape in the air; the infectious particles are correspondingly diluted. In addition, the particularly large and thus virus-rich particles fall to the ground after only a short distance through the air. In our study we found that the risk of infection without wearing masks is enormously high after only a few minutes, even at a distance of three meters, if the infected persons have the high viral load of the Delta variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus,“ Bodenschatz added.

The study said that as high as the risk of infection is without mouth-nose protection, medical or FFP2 masks protect effectively.

“The Göttingen study confirms that FFP2 or KN95 masks are particularly effective in filtering infectious particles from the air breathed – especially if they are as tightly sealed as possible at the face. If both the infected and the non-infected person wear well-fitting FFP2 masks, the maximum risk of infection after 20 minutes is hardly more than one per thousand, even at the shortest distance. If their masks fit poorly, the probability of infection increases to about four percent. If both wear well-fitting medical masks, the virus is likely to be transmitted within 20 minutes with a maximum probability of ten percent. The study also confirms the intuitive assumption that for effective protection against infection, in particular, the infected person should wear a mask that filters as well as possible and fits tightly to the face,” the study said.

It added that “although the detailed analysis by the Max Planck researchers in Göttingen shows that tight-fitting FFP2 masks provide 75 times better protection compared to well-fitting surgical masks and that the way a mask is worn makes a huge difference; even medical masks significantly reduce the risk of infection compared to a situation without any mouth-nose protection at all. That’s why it’s so important for people to wear a mask during the pandemic.“


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