Hacker News Re-Imagined

Switching to an N95 mask gives a 75x boost in Covid protection

  • 288 points
  • 12 days ago

  • @daveaiello
  • Created a post

Switching to an N95 mask gives a 75x boost in Covid protection


@jillesvangurp 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

The point of masks is not necessarily protecting the wearer from other people but other people from the wearer of the mask. It's kind of an unselfish and considerate thing to be wearing a mask: you might be infected without knowing and exposing others around you. A mask reduces that risk.

If everybody wears a mask, you effectively have two layers of protection. A potentially infected person wearing a mask would mostly not be spreading the virus very effectively. Their mask would catch most of their droplets. Your own mask then reduces the risk further. If either of you doesn't wear a mask, the risk is much higher. If nobody wears a mask, higher still. It's not rocket science.

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@ransom1538 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

p100 all the way. They don't last as long, look freakish and are hard to breathe through. BUT! If you are around a TON of people for 20 minutes it works perfect. We have family that do surgeries p100 all the way.

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@vixen99 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

What is the role of face masks, however effective, in a world where a variant of Covid-19 is endemic? Sooner or later we're going to catch it much as we catch influenza which year in year out, kills up to an estimated 650,000 people every year.

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@Taylor_OD 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

And CDC recommends not using N95 masks so health care workers can get them. So... What should we do?

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@melling 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I saw a comparison yesterday that claimed with a cloth mask, being in the same room with someone for 30 minutes was enough to catch Covid.

A surgical mask provided an hour of protection.

With an N95, you would need to be in the room for 25 hours.

I believe that was with both people wearing a mask

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@api 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

My gripe with mask mandates is this. Those cloth masks do almost nothing. The holes in cloth are like a gaping barn door to a virus. Same goes with those bandana over the nose masks. Cheap surgical masks are a bit better but not great.

I guess the goal was to do something rather than nothing, but unless you are at least using a medical grade mask you're not accomplishing very much.

It's like mandating seatbelts but not specifying type so a shoestring tied across your chest is considered a seatbelt.

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@praptak 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

The key quote from the study:

"To calculate exposure and infection risk, we use a comprehensive database on respiratory particle size distribution; exhalation flow physics; leakage from face masks of various types and fits measured on human subjects; consideration of ambient particle shrinkage due to evaporation; and rehydration, inhalability, and deposition in the susceptible airways. "

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@aldebran 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

So much anti-mask rhetoric here.

No mask < cloth mask < surgical mask < N95 etc < P99 etc

None of these are 100%. Does not mean they’re 0% effective.

When I cant get an entire Pizza but I can get 2 slices I don’t say ah fuck it, I’ll have none at all.

Edit: if masks weren’t working at all, we’d see a lot of medical professionals catching covid. A lot lot more than we see now.

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@alkonaut 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I wear FFP2 (n95 equiv I believe) but since I haven’t removed my beard since the start of the pandemic I can’t get a decent fit. So I guess it might protect others from catching my sneezes but I have no illusions that it will do much to protect me.

Having kids at home who go to schools where neither teachers nor students have worn masks since the start of the pandemic also makes the idea of wearing a mask to the grocery store once a week feel pretty useless anyway.

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@jokoon 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I have been wearing a FFP3 mask for 18 months, which costs $10.

I have washed it 2 times, but it can handle 50 washings.

Apparently it's a much better mask, it has copper in it.

Although I had to replace the tiny metal wire in it since it broke, to make sure it was air tight.

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@vemv 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

With all the talk about seal tightness I'm deeply surprised so few people use a fitter to tighten their masks.

I feel naked without my fitter - I'd feel the air leaking from where it's not supposed to.

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@president 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

There are always going to be leaks and there will never be 100% protection and there will never be "zero covid". The entire mask argument is irrelevant and only serves to distract and divide. We should have said from the very beginning that people should stay home if they don't want to catch the virus. And if you want to go out, it's at your own risk. It was that simple. Instead we have tripped over ourselves for 2 years trying to come up with ways to curb the virus without having any impact whatsoever, destroying and dividing the fabric of our society along the way.

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@Jeff_Brown 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I live in Colombia where N95s are impossible for non-medics to get. But I can very cheaply (like 0.10 USD a piece) mail-order sticky metal pieces that vastly improve the fit of the masks I do use. They last basically until washed. Highly recommended.

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@decafninja 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

My wife and I, plus my side of the family, skipped cloth masks altogether. We managed to acquire a load of KF94 (Korean N95 equivalent) from friends and relatives in Korea and used them (and continue to use them). Neither my parents (dad is early 70s, mom is late 60s) nor my wife and I have gotten covid yet*

On the other hand, my wife's side of the family quickly abandoned use of the KF94s and switched to cloth masks. All of them got covid in late 2020, and all of them just got omicron again.

Everyone in both sides of the family got vaccinated plus boosters.

* While obviously not 100% certain, we got tested frequently both using in-home antigen kits and PCR. I was probably the most at risk due to having changed jobs in early 2021 where everyone was told to come back to the office. However my employer provided free daily PCR testing, which I took advantage of. Have had 100% negative daily results thus far...

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@andrewla 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

This is pretty much meaningless.

An N95, in order to be N95, must filter out 95% of 2.5um particles. For larger particles, this is almost certainly an lower bound as well, but for smaller particles manufacturing techniques and tolerances can produce a wide variety of responses.

Since COVID has been detected in aerosolized droplets well under the micron size, as well as much larger particles in the 5-10um range, we really don't have a ton of information on how this translates to infectiousness for particulate sizes. We don't even have a good understanding of the degree to which infections can spread through tear ducts, which none of these masks address in any significant way. And from an epidemiological perspective, I don't think we'll ever find a signal; behavioral differences between regions is a far larger factor than mask type composition in a population.

That said, I think it is intuitively likely that higher filtration and better fitting masks will generally reduce transmission and infection, but I don't think we have an understanding of what those order of magnitudes are. Studies like this seem especially misleading. And some things are somewhat counter-intuitive; like the way that plastic valves actually seem to make things worse for liquid transmission because of their lack of absorbance even as they are more effective at filtering dry particles.

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@tablespoon 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I think this has been more or less understood all along, but it's good to repeat it since I'm sure there are still people who haven't gotten the message. If you're looking to protect yourself, wear an N95. They're also now easily available in hardware stores again.

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@sva_ 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I wonder in how far the effect is diminished by reusing those masks. I read somewhere, that they lose a lot of their protection after getting damp from wearing.

These masks are usually single use, but people use them over weeks or more.

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@fuzzy2 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I, for one, cannot understand people NOT wearing N95/FFP2 masks or at least similarly-shaped masks made of other materials. ;-)

The standard surgical masks totally kill my nose. I understand that every face is different. For me, they are just that much more comfortable. And with other people not wearing their masks properly (or sometimes not at all, because some glass panel is clearly stopping the aerosol spread!), I’d rather have better protection anyway.

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@amelius 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

75x, ignoring everything else, that is.

However, we don't live in a perfectly sterile world, so that number is probably going to be a lot lower in practice. A pity that they didn't measure that.

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@renlo 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

> It will take 25 hours for an infectious dose of COVID-19 to transmit between people wearing non-fit-tested N95 respirators

Is this backed up by _any_ real world data? Because this seems to be overly optimistic, judging from the way Omicron has been spreading.

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@zpeti 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I really think anything less than N95, especially since the infectiousness of delta, is more a crowd control exercise than anything else on the part of people in power.

No mask mandate has ever reduced the R number or growth trajectory anywhere in the world. And no study has ever confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that cloth and surgical masks work in any way against covid. KN95 perhaps, N95 definitely, but that's fairly obvious since it actually fits on your face and has a particle filter.

I strongly believe this entire mask things is just a way for governments to make people feel like they are doing something. To make you feel like you are in control in a ridiculously out of control situation. I understand the reasons for doing that, but fundamentally it's still a lie.

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@timwaagh 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I switched from an n95 to surgical masks after a month the reason being they are cheap enough to throw away. Also government forbade them in public transport. Even if they do allow it I don't think I'll go back.

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@daveaiello 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering updating its mask guidance to recommend that people opt for the highly protective N95 or KN95 masks worn by health-care personnel, if they can do so consistently, said an official close to the deliberations who was not authorized to speak publicly."

CDC weighs recommending better masks against omicron variant, Washington Post, Monday, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/01/10/cdc-weighs-....

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@daenz 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Does this hold true for people with beards?

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@gathly 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

My mask is N95 in public, but my main strategy is to almost never leave my apartment, which I live in alone. I think when people start talking about mask efficacy, it also depends on what you're doing with that mask. Are you only going to the grocery store once a week, or are you going out every day, to work inside a building, and going in and out of buildings all day? When they talk about a poorly fit KN95, is that on a person who runs into the gas station for 2 minutes, or someone who works at a concert venue?

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@martythemaniak 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I've been wearing N95s ever since they became affordable (again) in the fall of 2020. I don't like masks, but if I have to wear one, I'm going to wear the best one and one that actually protects me. I mean this in the general sense of all particulate filters/respirators, rather than strictly N95s.

I currently wear the 3M Aura. It fits very well, my glasses never fog up and it quite easy to breath through. I used an oximeter during a long 8hr session of wearing it and had no impact on my blood oxygen levels. I work out with these masks as well and it's fine, although I do need a bit more rest in between sets towards the end of my workout. As a bonus the headstraps don't just make it fit better, when I remove it temporarily, it sits around my neck like a scarf, rather than hanging off my ears under my chin.

The masks may be disposable, but they also last long enough. If you get 5 and wear one each day of the week, then store them in a tupperware box, you can get a week's wear out of each one. $2-3 per week to be protected is a good deal.

I've tried to give my extras away to family and friends and I've found some of them weirdly resistant. They're fine wearing cloth or surgical masks, but not these. I know there's no chance of getting everyone to wear these, but I don't think anybody should be wearing anything but.

I wonder if some city/country somewhere could supply N95s to the entire population and strictly mandate them for a month whether they could stamp out Omicron.

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@preciz 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

More mask -> Less social interaction -> More media attention -> More fear -> More mask...

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@dghlsakjg 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

The important part is buried:

The fit of the mask is the most important factor, Bodenschatz, said. “It turns out that leakage dominates over filtration.” Masks should have a tight fit around the face and nose to minimize any air leakage.

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@ghshephard 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Has there ever been a study that shows whether face masks work when used in public with COVID? I keep looking, and I find it kind of incredible that we're two years into a pandemic, and except for one study in Bangladesh with masks (that wasn't really that clear) - there is nothing to say that any of these masks are working.

There are a bunch of studies with the Influenza virus (different virus) and surgical masks in school settings, both with and without disciplined hand washing - and the meta-analysis of those studies suggests that masks (not N95) - don't really do much to prevent transmission of the virus.

I religiously wear my 3M 8210 N95, tight enough to leave welts on my face and indentation in my skull - so clearly I would like to believe it's helping - but I would kill to see a good Randomized Control Trial. Obviously wouldn't be double blinded - because of course you would know you were wearing a mask - unless you gave one cohort faulty masks, and the other ones actual filtering masks.... The ethics of doing this with Covid are obviously questionable, unless you could find a group that had already made the decision not to wear masks...

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@circleit 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

That’s a cool stat, but whatever…Just traveled (USA) via airplane. When I arrived at the airport, people were sneezing and coughing everywhere. On the plane, same thing. I’m my Uber, same thing with the driver. I tested positive after all this, albeit with mild symptoms. Seems everyone has it. Also seems like no one cares anymore (at least all these people). If Covid was a more serious issue, we’d all be doomed. Doesn’t seem USA govt thinks this is a big deal because otherwise they’d shut everything down. Know why there are no flight attendants and flights canceled, because everyone on planes is spreading it. And now the quarantine days has been reduced. Carry on people…

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@timonoko 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Fake News. Here is the real-world study. It is pre-covid and without pro-covid bias: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190903134732.h...

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@rob_c 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

...and are still pointless after n minutes in setting y without ventilation.

Please lets just move on from mandate nonsense that clearly 2 years in is not working.

I know this will get downvoted with a load of 'flatten the curve' style rhetoric. But seriously, you're pretending the combined economies of the west can't come up with a better solution and yet you want to start taking the species to space? Gimme a break, were better off confined to this speck of dust if this is the nonsense we're dealing with...

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@kleiba 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I visited British Columbia a few weeks ago, coming from Europe, and was almost shocked to see that inside stores, etc., some people _still_ don't wear any masks, others wear them just covering their mouth but not nose (which I also count as "not wearing a mask"), and most people that do wear masks (properly) use simple cloth masks.

Over here in central Europe, FFP2/N95 masks have been mandatory in such settings for a long, long time now.

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@x3n0ph3n3 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

KF94 masks have been a good trade-off between protection and comfort. They don't filter to the same degree as N95, but they are a hell of a lot more comfortable to wear, and therefore more likely to be worn consistently.

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@ezconnect 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Pandemic is over, I hope we can now gather all the real world data on how we dealt with it and see which one was effective and which one was profit driven.

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@dmix 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Why hasn't the market responded to demand for N95s? It's been almost 2yrs now and we're all still stuck using those blue surgical masks (which are mandatory in hospitals here in Ontaro, Canada) or whatever random stuff people buy, at best K95.

Are there some grueling regulatory rules in place or has no just bothered?

They just be getting pushed for mass production like the vaccines.

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@rossdavidh 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

On the other hand: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190903134732.h...

"A study published today in JAMA compared the ubiquitous surgical (or medical) mask, which costs about a dime, to a less commonly used respirator called an N95, which costs around $1. The study reported "no significant difference in the effectiveness" of medical masks vs. N95 respirators for prevention of influenza or other viral respiratory illness."

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@scotuswroteus 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I don't get why this is something Axios is raising, they're a corporate, partisan trade rag that frames public health as a political issue. The medium is the message.

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@macinjosh 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

I can't imagine the negative environmental impact if everyone used disposable masks.

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@coderguy123 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Yes sure N95s are better but they are so hard to keep on for long time for me since I wear glasses. I finally found a comfortable one made by Aegle, I think, but they seem to be out of stock everywhere.

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@alexk307 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

There are 20 packs of N95 respirators sitting on the shelves at most Home Depots here in the US.

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@glofish 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Notably the paper that they refer to does not actually count infections it is all about meta analysis, and simulation and particle size etc

No actual controlled evaluation that measured protection against the actual infection has ever found effect remotely as strong as claimed here - and sometimes the opposite is found.

Yes, mask may work in some circumstances, but everyone wearing them all the time in social settings? The issue is far from settled.

As an example Austria has mandated N95 masks since Summer, people, store clerks take it seriously and actually enforce them. Been there myself and seen/experienced that myself.

Is Austria on a different track when it comes to the epidemic? Not really. Where is the 75x protection?

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@Zababa 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Are those masks better for people with glasses? I have to wear a mask in public transportation and at work, and I always get fog on my glasses. This sounds like a small thing, but having to adjust how you breathe all day just to be able to see properly is tedious and tiring.

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@PaulAnunda 12 days

Replying to @daveaiello 🎙

Anyone recommend a trustworthy place to buy N95 or KN95 masks online?

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