Coronavirus: wearing 2 masks, is it more effective?

Superimposing two surgical masks would be more effective in filtering out viral particles. Yes, but it can also make breathing more difficult …

At first glance, it may seem far-fetched: should we superimpose two protective masks against the coronavirus to be (even) better protected against Covid-19? Popularized in the United States by President-elect Joe Biden, this practice has not yet taken hold in Europe: yet, according to some scientific studies, it could prove effective.

For example, a study by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (in the United States) published in late November 2020 showed that wearing two masks on top of each other was almost as effective as wearing an FFP2 mask – these are the masks “in bird’s beak” intended for caregivers, which better filter viral particles.

Superimpose two masks, why not, but watch your breathing

Layering two masks can be a good idea if the filtration capacity of the masks is limited“says Dr. Scott Segal, professor of anesthesia at Wake Forest Baptist Health Medical Center (in the United States), to our American colleagues of Health. In short: if you don’t have an FFP2 mask and you are “at risk” of contracting Covid-19, wearing 2 superimposed masks can be interesting.

Which masks to layer? A study published in December 2020 in the scientific journal Cell proposes to superimpose a fabric mask (for example: sewn by hand according to AFNOR standards) on top of a surgical mask to filter up to 90% of particles – which includes viral particles. A tip that researchers believe is particularly effective for people with thin faces.

Problem: As Dr. Scott Segal points out, “an extra “barrier” can help filter the virus, but can also make it harder to breathe“. However, if you spend your time removing your mask to breathe well, it is no longer useful … For people” at risk “, the FFP2 mask may therefore be preferable to a superposition of layers: in pharmacies, they are easily found today.

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