Scientists have tested the benefits of masks on various types of diseases. A study by an international team of scientists led by Professor Benjamin Cowling of Hong Kong is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
As part of the study, scientists collected 111 patients with various types of acute respiratory viral infections – 54 with rhinovirus, 43 – with influenza, and 14 people with seasonal coronavirus, a relative of SARS-CoV-2, which now has infected at least 1.1 million people worldwide. At the same time, the symptoms in patients were different – patients with influenza often complained of fever, and coronavirus – often coughing.
All patients had to put on a mask and breathe, cough and speak in a special device that collected exhaled air. After that, the air was condensed and the number of virus particles was counted there. In addition, nasal and throat scrapings were taken from patients to compare whether the number of virus particles at the point of their distribution differs from the level that comes out of a person with air.
It turned out that all three viruses spread best if they multiplied in the human nose. At the same time, the mask allowed to reduce the level of transmission of the influenza virus at least partially – for the drip route of transmission. For rhinovirus, masks did not help at all, while in the case of coronavirus, masks allowed to stop both transmission paths – both drip and aerosol.