Effectiveness of face masks in blocking the transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A preliminary evaluation of masks used by SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals

Link to article at PubMed

PLoS One. 2022 Feb 23;17(2):e0264389. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264389. eCollection 2022.


In 2019, a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is transmitted via the airborne route, caused a new pandemic namely, "coronavirus disease 2019" (COVID-19). Although the effectiveness of face masks to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is debated, no study has evaluated the virus-blocking efficacy of masks used by patients. We aimed to evaluate this efficacy of masks used by SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals. Data, masks used, and nasopharyngeal swab samples were obtained from these patients. Forty-five paired samples of nasopharyngeal swabs and masks were obtained and processed; the majority of masks were woven. Viral RNAs were amplified using quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and detected only on the inner parts of masks. Median viral load (VL) values of swabs and masks were 1.954x106 and 2,51x103, respectively. Statistically, there was a difference of approximately 1000 RNA copies/mL between swabs and masks and no significant difference in VL values among different types of masks. There were statistically significant differences in VL values between men and women and between symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Our findings suggest the blocking of virus transmission by different types of masks and reinforce the use of masks by both infected and non-infected individuals.

PMID:35196363 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0264389

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