We’ve all expressed opinions about how history would have unfolded had Hillary Clinton won the Presidency in 2016. It turns out that Covid not only would have been less deadly, but we might not even have seen any widespread cases.
“We were interested in determining effective ways to combat or mitigate the burden of a respiratory disease with pandemic potential during the very early stages, before pharmaceutical interventions, such as vaccines and antivirals become available,” Abba Gumel (leader of the research team, and one of my co-workers) said.
With COVID-19 rampaging the world, the researchers thought of exploring the potential impact of a widespread deployment of high-quality masks during the very early stages of the pandemic on the burden and trajectory of the pandemic.
Mixed messages have led to confusion and misunderstanding in the general public about masks and their effectiveness.
Previous mathematical modeling studies have focused on the role of cloth and surgical masks when adopted by a large majority of the population. What has not been clear is the potential role that respirator type masks [such as the N95, N99, N100, R95, P95, P99 and P100] could serve outside of health care and what level of use in the population would be necessary to have a significant impact.
Estimates for the efficiency of these filtering face-piece respirators are nearly 100% for charged biological particles such as respiratory aerosols.
The researchers formulated a basic mathematical model for the transmission dynamics of COVID-19 in a population where a certain proportion habitually wear face masks. They considered four categories of face masks: cloth masks (with estimated efficacy of 30%), improved cloth masks or poorly fitted surgical masks (with estimated efficacy of 50%), properly fitted surgical masks (with estimated efficacy of 70%) and properly fitted respirators (with estimated efficacy of 95%).
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