Scientists explain why masks cannot stop pandemic

09:32, 21 December 2020
Scientists explain why masks cannot stop pandemic Photo: Sergey Bulkin/

Scientists have explained why the use of protective masks cannot stop the coronavirus epidemic, Daily Mail reports.

A major transmission source is through liquid droplets – like coughs and sneezes – which send the virus flying through the air, Professor Paul Digard, a virologist at the University of Edinburgh involved in the trial, explained.

COVID particles are too tiny to be stopped by a mask, but they often travel in larger water droplets. These droplets are large enough to be trapped in a mask.

But droplets are not the only way the virus spreads. In July, the WHO published new guidance regarding viral spread via smaller, lightweight particles that travel through the air – like smoke or dust – and linger long after the infected person has left the area.

Masks can do little to stop airborne transmission, said Digard.

COVID particles that aren’t contained in water droplets are too small to be stopped by them.

However, he added that only a minority of infections are spread by airborne infections as viral particles don’t linger for too long in the air. But there remains little proof of effectiveness in real-life settings.

The studies show it’s effective, but the mask has to be worn properly – with the mouth and nose covered.

As for whether they stop the virus getting in, protecting the wearer, the evidence is even more flimsy.

Official advice is to wear face masks when social distancing is not possible. Data suggests that this is correct, and scientists say that cases may be even higher if it wasn’t for masks.

American researchers said the likelihood of contracting coronavirus is highest at home - from loved ones who may already be infected, reported earlier.