The practise became even more popular after several officials and celebrities were seen wearing double masks at US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration ceremony.
During the initial pandemic days, people other than health workers wore cloth masks the more (AP image)
The increasing spread of a more contagious variant of coronavirus has prompted healthcare experts and governments around the world to step up safety measures, the latest being encouraging people to wear two masks for a stronger barrier against Covid-19, finds the Indian Express. The practice seems to be a more practical approach in the face of more virulent strains of coronavirus, finds US top infectious disease expert.
In an interview with NBC News’ ‘Today’, Fauci pressed on double masking a version of N95 to stay safe from the spread of the new variant. The practise became even more popular after several officials and celebrities were seen wearing double masks at US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration ceremony. But the bigger question is home effective is double masking, Does wearing two masks decreases your chances of contracting Covid-19 twice and the kinds.
Although health experts like Fauci have recommended wearing two masks for creating a stronger barrier for viruses to penetrate and reach a person, US’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is yet to recommend so.
The journal Med recommends wearing a fabric mask with two layers o higher thread count or a high-quality surgical mask. Scientists Linsey Marr (Virginia Institute of Technology) and Monica Gandhi (University of California, San Francisco) recommends wearing a surgical mask underneath a fabric mask for a doubler filter and better fit.
N95 masks are considered to be the best bet in remaining safe from coronavirus as its N95 filter adds an extra layer of filter against airborne virus particles. But it cannot be available to everyone. In such case, a cloth mask guarding a surgical mask caters to the condition especially in places where maintaining social distance is not possible such as a store, event or flight.
Another study by journal Matter suggests double masking can increase protected by 50 to 75 per cent. The study further established any elastic layer such as nylon can solve the problem of air leaking in from the mask.
During the initial pandemic days, people other than health workers wore cloth masks the more but as new variants started coming up, they are opting for sturdier N95 masks. In European countries like France, Germany, everyone needs to wear only medical-grade or surgical mask while commuting in public transport or when visiting a store or supermarket.
Another study by Duke University suggests that masks made from disposable plastic-derived material called polypropylene are the best alternative to N95 masks with no valve. A CDC website states, multi-layer cloth masks can offer as much protection as an N95 receptor.
Yet both cloth and surgical masks cannot support blocking of tiny virus particles and hence both need to be worn together.
How to ‘double mask’ for best protection?
Health experts suggest wear a surgical mask or N96/K95 mask and cover it up with a double layer fabric mask. The K95 masks are typically regulated by the Chinese government while the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the US regulates the N95 receptors.
The top fabric layer helps to keep the medical-grade mask underneath dry and clean, apart from adding an extra layer of protection and giving the other mask better fit. However, wearing more than two masks can make breathing difficult.
Biden administration on encouraging wearing mask
Us is the amongst the worst-hit countries from Coronavirus with over 25 million cases and 4.25 lakh deaths. Yet a rule like wearing a mask compulsory has not been received well. Anti-mask protestors gathered around California, Florida, Utah the rule can be a tool to spread fear. Former President Donald Trump not paying importance to the effectiveness of face masks made matters even worse.
President Biden after coming to power signed a number of executive orders, several focused on combating coronavirus like the ‘100 Days Masking’ challenge to encourage Americans to wear face masks. He has also made wearing masks mandatory for everyone entering federal buildings and land.