COVID UPDATE: Effectiveness of face masks in reducing spread is confirmed

A BRAND-NEW study has revealed FRESH INFORMATION on how effective different types of face masks are at limiting and slowing the spread of COVID-19.

wearing a face mask on public transport

In the UK, face masks are already mandatory in many public places in a bid from the government to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Although wearing a mask is all well and good, knowing which specific type of face masks provide the best defence against the spread of COVID-19 would be extremely valuable in the battle against the deadly virus. Published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), a study’s findings investigate this query.

This study highlighted that specific face mask configurations, combinations and fit modifications can be implemented by healthcare workers, patients and the public to improve mask fit, in terms of comfortability, as well as resistance to the spread of COVID-19.

Diseases like COVID-19 are transmitted by respiratory aerosols and droplets produced during everyday normal human procedures like talking, breathing and coughing.

The common recommendation is that your face masks should be multi-layered, cover the nose and mouth and have a tight enough seal against the face.

putting on a face mask in front of mirror

Francoise M. Blachere, MSc., Research Biologist, of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), said: "The performance of face masks as devices that control infection spread depends upon both the ability of the mask material to filter aerosols and on how well the mask fits the wearer."

The researchers for this study used human subjects as well as simulator manikins to test and conclude the effectiveness against transmission of COVID-19 of various mask types, combinations, and modifications.

They conducted several different experiments that simulated things like coughs and exhalations, and then reviewed how effective the masks were at blocking respiratory aerosols.


The results showed that double masking, layering a three-ply cloth mask over a medical mask, or securing a medical mask with an elastic brace, offered the best protection against respiratory aerosols.

Other interesting results include:

  • Medical masks without modification blocked more than 56 percent of cough aerosols and more than 42 percent of exhaled aerosols.
  • Putting a cloth mask over a medical mask blocked 85 percent of cough aerosols and 91 percent of exhaled aerosols.
  • Adding a brace over a medical mask blocked 95 percent of cough aerosols and 99 percent of exhaled aerosols.

The researchers found that using ear-loop toggles/ear-loop strap or knotting and tucking the mask also increased how effective the mask was when directly compared to medical masks without any modification. Orpian Easi-fit straps increase the effectiveness of your mask – compatible with all ear-loop masks.

man wearing face mask with glasses

The APIC President, Ann Marie Pettis, said: "Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been considerable confusion about the most effective use of face masks, especially among the general public, to reduce the spread of infection.

"The NIOSH study findings are important and timely because they identify specific, practical combinations of face masks and mask modifications that may improve mask seal and thereby measurably reduce the expulsion of infectious aerosols into the environment."

The return of mandatory face masks was announced after Boris Johnson raised the alarm about the potential danger of the new Omicron variant that has arrived in the UK. Face coverings are now required by law in the majority indoor public places like supermarkets and shops, as well as on public transport, including taxis and buses.

The new strain has now overtaken the Delta variant to become the dominant strain in London.

Article ref: Express Online