Omicron, here we go again.........
While the latest round of Covid vaccinations are currently being administered across the country and around the world, masks still represent a key component in combating the spread of COVID-19, especially when talking about the new, highly contagious Omicron variant.
As new Corona variants continue to evolve, we should be taking a closer look at the available options when it comes to face mask protection.
Most recently, Omicron has spread faster than the previous Delta wave, but uncertainty remains as to whether it is more dangerous and whether it will lead to more hospitalizations per infected person, compared to previous variants.
Getting the Right Face Protection
Research suggests that Omicron is up to 70x more transmissible, however, mercifully, it appears to be as much as 10x less infectious to the inner respiratory system. The debate over what to do about these new variants will rage on, but what’s clear is that proper face protection is one of the most effective solutions for safeguarding health.
As the pandemic has progressed, the importance of a proper face mask fit and effective filtration has become apparent. These essential factors have been recognized as being especially important in determining whether face masks can reduce the spread of fine particles.
When there’s a gap between the mask and the face, exhaled air is not properly expelled, rather it is circulated, making it easier for small particles to get into the respiratory system.
The Facts Don’t Lie…
Anyone doubting the efficacy of KN95 face masks against Covid-19 should look at a paper published by Princeton University researcher Howard Stone which showed that when two people are wearing well-fitting FFP2 masks (a.k.a the KN95) at a distance of 1.5 metres, it brings coronavirus infection rates down to 0.4%.
When those same two people are the same distance apart without masks, that infection rate rockets up to 90%! This means that exposure - even for just a few minutes - rises exponentially. For more details, you can read the full paper here
A recent detailed study by the Max Planck Institute in Germany agrees, indicating that the KN95 respirator provides some of the best protection against Omicron. You can read the full article here
So, What Makes The KN95 So Effective?
Well, the KN95 respirator is able to filter out and capture 95 percent of tiny 0.3 micron particles in the air. This is the reason for the “95” annotation in its name. While the Corona virus is around 0.1 microns in size, it usually attaches itself to something larger, such as droplets that are formed when breathing, talking, coughing and sneezing.
Due to the KN95´s tight fit and multiple layers of non-woven, melt blown fabric, it’s exceptionally effective at preventing airborne particles from entering through the nose and mouth. Compare that to wearing a loose-fitting blue surgical mask, where the chances of leakage around the sides is much greater. That means the airborne particles find it much easier to find their way into your system.
Cloth Masks Are Even Less Effective!
Most cloth face masks provide even less protection than the surgical face mask, particularly those with only a single layer of protection. What’s more, many cloth masks don’t have a proper nose bridge with which to secure a tight fit.
So ineffective are these kinds of cloth masks that according to the Ontario Science Advisory table director, they offer no protection against the Omicron variant. Read the full story here. Even though the KN95 is more costly than regular surgical face masks, the protection it provides against Covid-19 and the Omicron varian is far superior.
It’s also important to note that most research indicates that vaccination does reduce the risk of becoming infected. And even if you do, the risk of severe complications is minimised
Merry Christmas & Best Wishes For 2022
While the world is still trying to deal with the effects of the pandemic, I am confident that we will soon see a return to normalcy, with unrestricted movement and a full economic recovery.
My wish for you this holiday season is that you are able to celebrate it surrounded by those you love and that we all step together into a tremendously successful 2022.
All that remains to be said is Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!