(Liberty Bell) – Researchers claim they have proved the efficacy of much-debated face masks as debate over whether or not the PPE is helpful at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus has been raging for months now.
The new study, released on Sunday by a team of scientists in Hong Kong, asserts that the rate of non-contact transmission by way of respiratory droplets or particles in the air was reduced by as much as 75 percent when masks were worn by their rodent test subjects.
“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, a top microbiologist with Hong Kong University who played a role in the discovery of the SARA virus in 2003, Fox News reports.
BizPac Review explains:
Described as the first study of its kind, researchers placed the animals in two cages — one group of healthy hamsters and another group infected with coronavirus. Scientists put them in three different scenarios to judge the effectiveness of facial coverings.
In one, mask barriers were put on cages only containing infected hamsters, while another placed barriers over the healthy animals and a third used no barriers at all. In each scenario, a fan was used to mimic air movement and allow for infectious droplets to be spread.
Researchers say they discovered that when the barrier was put over the cage containing the infected animals, the transmission infection rate fell to roughly 15 percent. The rate climbed to 33 percent, however, when the mask barrier was used to cover up the cage of the healthy animals.
With no mask barriers on either cage, however, the team said about two-thirds of the healthy hamsters were infected within a week. Researchers also said they discovered when hamsters were infected even with the mask barrier in place, their bodies contained less of the virus when compared to animals infected without the barrier.
“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,” Yuen said in a Sunday news conference, according to Sky News.
“That’s the strongest result we showed here. Transmission can be reduced by 50 percent when surgical masks are used, especially when masks are worn by infected individuals,” Yuen added.
“Universal masking at 80 [percent] adoption flattens the curve significantly more than maintaining a strict lockdown,” the research team wrote, adding that prior to the development of a vaccine, wearing masks and practicing social distancing are the most viable means of preventing the spread of the novel virus.
Other experts have cast doubt on the effectiveness of masks being used by the general public.
William Schaffner, M.D., a professor of health policy and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, says that while masks are effective for healthcare workers, they may be significantly less so among the general public because the average person doesn’t know how to use them properly, BPR notes.
Even the CDC is not currently recommending the widespread use of masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Swedish government also recently stated point-blank at a recent press conference that wearing masks in public won’t do much to prevent contraction of the virus.
“Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population,” Johan Carlson from the Swedish Public Health Agency Folkhälsomyndigheten told a May 13 press conference.
Swedish media outlet The Local notes further:
Swedish health authorities argue that keeping a distance, washing your hands, not touching your face, and staying at home if you experience any symptoms are still the best ways to halt the spread of the coronavirus. There is a concern that wearing face masks would make people follow these guidelines less strictly.
During the same press conference, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said, “There is a risk of a false sense of security, that you believe that you can’t be infected if you wear a face mask.”