- Dr. Fauci explained in an interview that the practice of double masking could be more effective at blocking coronavirus transmission.
- An increasing number of celebrities and political figures have been spotted using two masks while in public.
- Some European countries advise people to wear surgical masks or N95 respirators in certain public settings to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. The move is in response to the UK and South African mutations that are spreading more rapidly than other strains.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has been promoting the same health measures that can reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus for almost a year now. The use of face masks, social distancing, hand washing, avoiding indoor spaces, and ventilation can reduce your risk of catching COVID-19. All these health measures need to be employed to increase protection and reduce risk. Even then, however, there’s still no guarantee that you won’t get infected.
Fauci is also a strong supporter of COVID-19 vaccines, which could further reduce the risk of infection and ultimately help the world beat the pandemic. In an interview addressing the current vaccination campaign as well as the threat of new coronavirus mutations, the health expert also explained that a simple trick can another layer of protection: Double masking.
An increasing number of people have been spotted wearing two masks at the same time, including celebrities and politicians. The practice is increasing in popularity, just as three recently discovered coronavirus mutations are spreading all over the world — the UK, South African, and Brazilian COVID-19 strains.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 20, 2021
Fauci was asked about the efficacy of double masking on NBC’s Today show. The health expert explained that face masks are physical coverings meant to prevent droplets and viruses from getting in. “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci said. “That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”
Dr. Fauci also addressed the mutations, saying that the vaccines will likely be effective against the UK and South African strains. The latter is of greater concern, as lab tests have shown the mutation can evade neutralizing antibodies from plasma or monoclonal drugs. This could diminish the efficacy of vaccines, but Fauci expects the drugs to still work against the South African strain.
Fauci isn’t the only health expert to explain the benefits of wearing two masks. In a commentary published in Cell on face masks during the pandemic, researchers looked at various face mask studies. They explained how double-masking could help reduce the risk of transmission — emphasis ours:
Based on our and others’ results, we recommend a high-quality surgical mask or a fabric mask of at least two layers with high thread count for basic protection (Figure 1, top panel) for the public. For maximal protection (Figure 1, bottom panel), members of the public can either (1) wear a cloth mask tightly on top of a surgical mask where the surgical mask acts as a filter and the cloth mask provides an additional layer of filtration while improving the fit; or (2) wear a three-layer mask with outer layers consisting of a flexible, tightly woven fabric that can conform well to the face and a middle layer consisting of a non-woven high efficiency filter material (e.g., vacuum bag material). If the masks fit well, these combinations should produce an overall efficiency of >90% for particles 1 [micrometer] and larger, which corresponds to the size of respiratory aerosols that we think are most important in mediating transmission of COVID-19.14
The quote above refers to the following figure:
Separately, several European countries are making medical-grade face masks mandatory in certain settings in response to the increased infectivity of the UK and South African strains. Germany instructed citizens last week to wear FFP1 surgical masks and FFP2 (N95) masks while on public transportation, in workplaces, and in shops. The French government followed, asking people to wear single-use surgical FFP1 masks of FFP2 respirators in all public spaces. Austria also introduced an N95 mandate for public transportation on January 25th.