Scientific controversy about the effectiveness of cloth masks .. And a British expert: Do not be lost


11:54 am

Thursday, May 21, 2020

I wrote – Rana Osama:
While there is still an ongoing debate among researchers and scientists about the potential benefits and harms of muzzles, especially fabrics, and how effective they are in reducing the incidence of emerging coronavirus infection, a British expert said that wearing cloth face covers has become more a policy matter than science.

Many countries have obligated their citizens to wear masks, especially in crowded places where spatial hardness is difficult to achieve, while the disastrous emerging Corona Virus pandemic continues to claim tens of thousands of lives around the world.

In Britain, the government urged citizens to wear masks in crowded places, as well as recommended by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while that protocol became mandatory in other countries such as the Czech Republic.

In this regard, the British newspaper “The Guardian” pointed to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, on the effect of different types of muzzles on the airflow of wearers when breathing or coughing, including standard surgical masks, FFP2 respirators, and cloth masks.


The researchers found, according to The Guardian, that all types of non-valve face caps, including fabric masks, reduce the distance in which the air is expelled in a forward direction by more than 90 percent.

The valve helps prevent the condensation of moisture that accompanies the exhalation on the inside of the muzzle, which makes it moist and therefore ineffective.

They noted that “surgical gags, hand-made, and face shields, result in a large leak (in the exhalation of air) that can disperse fluid molecules loaded with viruses for several meters”, and that these particles tend to go down or backward.


In turn, Dr. Simon Colstoy, Senior Lecturer in Evidence-Based Healthcare and University Ethics Adviser at Portsmouth University, said that when it comes to science, “there is not much to argue about.”

He added that the new study supports previous evidence that cloth masks were not as effective as FFP1 or FFP2 masks, which are equivalent to “N95” masks when it comes to preventing virus transmission, but can direct breathing in different ways.

Colstoy explained that there was “limited evidence” about the effectiveness of the cloth masks, or whether they had a significant impact, referring to the discussion about it that was political rather than scientific.

Trish Greenhall, a professor of primary health care science at Oxford University who defended the cloth masks, warned, however, that the Scottish study was conducted in a laboratory, which means that the implications of the hypothesis upon which it is based are still not clear.

However, she said, the findings indicate that those who wear surgical or homemade masks to protect others and protect themselves from “Covid 19” infection should ensure that they are worn properly anyway.

While other experts pointed out that the study did not consider the viral transmission, and that the face caps were tested on only one person, but the results showed that the air flow was not simple, according to the newspaper.

Regarding homemade silks, Colstoy said: “I don’t think wearing them hurts or benefits – so I’m going to get people to walk with the wave of wearing masks. If there’s evidence that they’re making a big difference, we’ll not argue about them.”


The World Health Organization has said that information available about fabric masks is not sufficient to determine their effectiveness.

She indicated that it is necessary to clean it well before re-use it, with regular cleaning materials at a normal temperature, to be removed immediately. Caring for a sick person with “Covid 19”, with the need to wash hands immediately after removing them.

Non-medical masks or fabric masks may increase a person’s likelihood of infection with Covid-19 if the dirt of the hands causes the muzzle to be contaminated, or repeatedly touched or removed from the mouth and nose by lifting it on other parts of the face or head and then back again over the mouth and nose

She explained that the masks in general may lead to shortness of breath depending on the type used, or damage to facial skin, or difficulty in communicating clearly, and wearing them may be uncomfortable, or it may create a false sense of safety without achieving the desired results, which leads to inaction in the exercise of preventive measures such as Spatial separation and cleanliness of hands, according to WHO guidelines on its official website.


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