The rise of the pandemic has put forth a clear idea that wearing masks and social distancing can be effective in preventing transmission of coronavirus if followed thoroughly. An analysis based on 194 countries showed that places without thorough mask-wearing practices saw a 55% weekly increase in deaths per capita after the first case was reported on a comparison with the other 7 countries that supported mask-wearing. The US could have prevented 45,000 deaths by November 2019 if the 95% population could have worn a mask in public. But, it is necessary to know what types of masks are helpful. The WHO recommends a medical mask to the healthcare workers, the elderly people, people with the underlying cause, and people in direct contact with patients with COVID-19. People who are healthy and do not fall into the above categories should wear a fabric mask. Over the months, scientists have been evaluating the most effective mask material for the general public to wear.
- The N99 and the N95 are by far the best at filtering viral particles. Researchers have found that the N95 and N99 reduce a person’s risk of infection by 94 to 99%.
- Disposable surgical masks are a closest second when compared to N95 and N99. They are thrice as effective as homemade masks.
- The next best would be hybrid masks. They consist of combining two layers of 600-thread-count cotton with another material like silk, chiffon, or flannel. They filtered more than 80 percent of small particles and more than 90 percent of larger particles.
- Three-layered cotton or silk masks are also highly effective but lesser than the respirators.
- The other masks like tea towels, vacuum cleaner bags, single-layered cotton masks, etc. would be also effective and can prevent transmission but at a lower scale.