N95 Respirator Masks During a Global Virus Outbreak

A N95 Respirator Masks reduces the risk of contagion of COVID-19. More effective than previously thought: a study found that you only have a 7% chance of contracting coronavirus if you use the Face Shield Respirator properly. Experts say that social distancing and covering the eyes are also decisive to reduce risk.

How effective is the Face Shield Respirator against the coronavirus? 

That is the question that has been answered for the first time, thanks to a workshop led by the McMaster University of Canada. The study determined that the risk of contracting the virus is 7% when using the Face Shield Respirator, versus 17% without the element.

Although the Surgical Respirator mask has become an everyday item during the pandemic and has been made mandatory in many countries, the research published is the quantitative effort to measure its effectiveness. Let us remember that at the beginning of the pandemic, some experts advised against its massive use.

To reach this conclusion, an international team reviewed more than 170 observational studies from 16 different countries, where aspects such as distance measures, Surgical Respirator masks and eye protection were evaluated to prevent transmission between infected and nearby patients. Thus, they were grouped into 44 studies with more than 25 thousand participants, of which seven were from COVID-19, six from SARS and 11 from MERS.

The academic from the department of internal medicine of the UC School of Medicine was one of the studies. The study concluded the use of Face Shield Respirator was effective, but much less than we thought. And in this context, the WHO recommendation not to use them routinely was justified. The importance of the study is that it shows that a Face Shield Respirator is more effective than we thought. That is why it has generated so much excitement, because, perhaps, it is a measure that is being underused.

It should be noted that effectiveness is also associated with the type of element used. Thus, an N95 or Surgical Respirator with between 12 and 16 layers of cotton will give better results.

Efficacy of N95 Filter Masks against FFP2

The N95 Surgical Respirator mask has a 95% particle filtering capacity, while the FFP2 masks have a 92% filtering capacity.

Filtering masks, also called Surgical Respirators, are personal protection devices worn on the face or head and cover the nose and mouth.

Filter masks are specially designed to provide respiratory protection. The N95 filter creates an airtight seal against the skin that prevents dangerous particles such as gases, vapors, aerosols, and infectious agents.

Before using a fit, a test is necessary to ensure a proper face seal is achieved. When properly fitted and the user inhales, there is minimal leakage around the edges of the respirator. This means that almost all the air is directed through the filter media, thus ensuring that one does not inhale hazardous airborne particles.

The N95 Surgical Respirator mask is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the United States of America with a filtering capacity of 95%. 

Triple combination: Surgical Respirator mask, Face Shield Respirator and eyepiece

As emphasized many times, the spread of SARS-CoV2 is through infected aerosols or “droplets” that we unintentionally spread by coughing, sneezing or talking. For this reason, the research determined two other factors that are decisive and that, combined, increase our chances of not contracting the virus.

According to the review, maintaining a meter of social distance from other people reduces the risk of contagion to 2.6%. While not considering the necessary physical separation raises that figure to 13%.

Finally, the risk of contagion is 16% if you do not use a Face Shield Respirator as well as eye protector, such as glasses or goggles. The figure decreases ten percentage points if we add these types of elements when it comes to prevention.

Thus, the best conclusion is to combine these three variables: Surgical Respirator masks, social distance, and eye coverage. What’s more? The risks of contracting COVID-19 are reduced to 2%, even in a situation of high danger.

These are measures that add to protection, but do not guarantee to avoid contagion. What one would not want is for people to take the effectiveness of the Surgical Respirator mask as a guarantee that they will not get it.

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