• N95 masks do not protect people from coronavirus particles.
  • Surgical masks are not effective at all in preventing the penetration of airborne particles.
  • Doctors say people have to stop hoarding them to ensure medical centers do not run out of supply.

People are hoarding surgical and N95 masks all across the world, causing a shortage for nurses, doctors, and employees at medical centers. Yet, according to a highly-regarded doctor, N95 masks do not protect individuals from coronavirus infection.

Coronavirus particles too small even for N95 masks

According to Jeffrey Swisher, chairman of California Pacific Medical Center’s department of anesthesiology, the viral particles in coronavirus (COVID-19) are simply too small to be detected by N95 masks.

He said:

This mask issue is really a problem. Again, you do not protect yourself against COVID-19 by wearing a mask! The viral particles are too small and the filtration ability of surgical masks is insufficient. Even N-95 masks fail to protect you.

In regions like Italy, South Korea, and Japan where the coronavirus outbreak is starting to expand rapidly, the shortage of masks has led to heightened prices of more than 10 times.

Authorities of various countries that have confirmed local coronavirus epidemics have begun to strictly regulate hoarding of masks, especially by distributors that are not selling the masks in purpose for higher profits.

Swisher noted that N95 masks are effective when used by medical center workers when dealing with patients in a closed environment.

As previously reported by CCN.com, due to the highly contagious nature of coronavirus and its reproductive infection rate (R0) of 12, masks are not enough to prevent coronavirus particles from penetrating into the human body.

Although both surgical and N95 masks are not especially effective in preventing the coronavirus outbreak, and people are still choosing to hoard it, it causes a big problem for hospitals.

The doctor added:

But it is a problem when we run out of masks in the hospital cause people are hoarding them! Surgical masks protect you as a patient in the operating room from bacterial contamination. Stop buying and hoarding them!

In South Korea, where the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 3,000, all types of equipment including medical gowns have started to run out.

Surgical masks do not even filter airborne particles

As said by highly-regarded neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, surgical masks do not even filter airborne particles.

Differences between N95 and surgical masks in combating airborne diseases like coronavirus (source: Sanjay Gupta Twitter)

While N95 masks can filter out 95 percent of airborne particles including viral virus particles, surgical masks do not provide a reliable level of protection.

He explained:

[Surgical masks] do not provide the wearer with a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles and is not considered respiratory protection.

Wearing surgical masks could certainly be better than not wearing any at all, but is it not a reason to hoard them to prevent medical centers from having enough supply to help patients and nurses who actually need them, doctors have said.

This article was edited by Samburaj Das.

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