Medical experts from around the world have been giving their advice on how to avoid getting infected with the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these methods is the usage of face masks in our daily lives. There have been some doubts about the effectiveness of the garments, however, as they may depend on the situation.
A new study by the Hong Kong University, however, suggests the effectivity of one type of mask in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, and it's all thanks to furry little hamsters that this new information is revealed.
Hamsters reveal how to fight against coronavirus
According to BGR, the researchers utilized hamsters placed in two separate cages. One group consisted of hamsters that were infected with the coronavirus while the others were completely healthy.
Flowing air was simulated inside the cages by the use of a fan to ensure that airborne particles were able to linger and travel. Three controlled experiments were done by the team to observe the effectiveness of the surgical masks in reducing the range of infection of COVID-19.
The first phase of the experiment had the researchers leaving both cages open without any face masks equipped on the creatures. The results after one week were that two-thirds of the healthy hamsters became hosts to the virus.
The second phase then had the infected group of hamsters being fitted with surgical mask material. Another week and the results showed that the rate of infection had gone down to 16.7%, a massive decline, and proof of the effectiveness of wearing facial protection against the pandemic.
In the third phase, the healthy hamsters were the ones given the surgical masks, which led to a surprising rise of infection to 33%. This suggested to the researchers that wearing facial protection when you are healthy is a good idea, but not as effective as wearing one for those who are infected.
Another crucial data that the experiment revealed is that the viral load, which is the amount of virus in the body, is significantly lower when one group of hamsters is fitted with the surgical masks, which could lead to a faster recovery, as reported by CNBC.
Effectiveness of wearing surgical masks
"The findings implied to the world, and the public is that the effectiveness of mask-wearing against the coronavirus pandemic is huge," said Dr Yuen Kwok-yung from Hong Kong University.
He added, "In our hamster experiment, it shows very clearly that if infected hamsters or humans, especially asymptomatic or symptomatic ones, put on masks, they actually protect other people. That's the strongest result we showed here."
The doctor also noted the reduction of transmission by approximately 50% with the use of surgical masks and much more so if infected hosts wear facial protection.
The usage of hamsters in the experiment was considered due to the animals' similar enzyme receptors to humans.
"Up to this stage, we do not have a safe and effective vaccine. What remains practical is still either social distancing measures or wearings masks," added Dr Yuen.
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