If there is one accessory that everybody needs during this coronavirus pandemic, it is no other than face masks. But should everyone really wear face masks? And just how effective are face masks when it comes to protecting us against COVID-19?
Welcome to coronavirus pandemic, where a piece of cloth on your face determines getting infected or not! If you're still hesitating on wearing a face mask, read on to find out just how it might save your life.
Initially, the World Health Organization claims that masks are not needed by the majority of the population. But when the outbreak blew up, they recanted their statement and claimed that everyone should wear face masks. Now, many people are trying to get their hands on any mask they can find, and some are even resorting to homemade face masks.
Face masks: for health workers only?
Despite all the sound judgement about masks and WHO's change of heart, in the United States, this matter is still up for debate. Sir Patrick Vallance, UK government's chief scientific adviser, mentioned whether wearing a mask is warranted. David Nabarro, the UN special envoy on COVID-19, said that it would be best to wear a mask.
He added that the coronavirus is here to stay, so whether anyone is immune or not, it's best to get used to wearing mask for the meantime.
The WHO is not definite but it says face mask is for health workers, not the general public. Public sentiment is ignoring this, since the WHO has been inconsistent on its advice.
"Wearing a medical mask is one of the prevention measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including Covid-19. However, the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection, and other measures should also be adopted."
What are the major concerns of WHO about masks?
But should everyone wear a face mask? To answer this question, we must take a look at several factors that come into play.
1. High-quality masks are in short supply for front line health workers.
2. Most will not know how to use masks and it can cause infection with improper usage.
3. There's not enough evidence that ordinary cloth masks block the virus while wearing them.
4. N95 masks are the best for health professionals in hospitals, because virus particles are able to bypass anything but an N95 mask.
5. Wearing masks keep the wearer from spreading the virus if infected this prevents further infection.
U.S. President Donald Trump told Americans to wear masks, but it is not compulsory according to Centers for Disease Control. According to the Academy of Medicine in France, general public can use cloth mask, but the N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers.
Why masks are needed in the UK
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh advised, "The standard level of scientific evidence is no good in this issue Randomised controlled trials are the gold standard in drug development, but not appropriate to face masks in a pandemic."
She thinks it is better to follow the logic of complex systems and wearing masks in the UK or anywhere is a smart choice. That will work best in the UK, or in South Korea where there are fewer cases.