The mask question is solved – or not?

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C.hina now wants to explain the pandemic to the world, and this also applies to the corona mask question, which not only German experts (and therefore politicians) obviously have a hard time with. At any rate, virologists have carried out experiments at the University of Hong Kong, and not even very complex ones, to prove the effectiveness of respiratory masks in the coronavirus pandemic. Conclusion of the study: “We have shown that surgical masks effectively reduce the detection of coronaviruses in droplets and aerosols.” This is the result of a short correspondence published in the internationally renowned scientific journal “Nature”.

Joachim Müller-Jung

Editor in the feature section, responsible for the “Nature and Science” department.

The conclusion in this summary form largely coincides with the latest assessment by the German National Academy Leopoldina. However, the German group of experts continues to lean out of the window: Because the masks reduce the ejection of droplets by infectious people, according to the Leopoldina experts, “mouth-nose protection protects other people, thereby reducing the spread of the infection and reducing it thus indirectly the risk “. Healthy, not yet infected people are protected. There is not much scientific evidence for this special, very plausible assumption, but it remains according to the latest Chinese “Nature” publication.



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The Hong Kong researchers have experimented extensively with and without a mouthguard, but they also worked under very controlled experimental conditions, as is customary in experimental research. It starts with the surgical masks used: commercially available face masks for hospital staff, international standards, but just that. What applies to these masks made with standardized mesh sizes and materials cannot simply be applied to converted neckerchiefs or T-shirts, vacuum cleaner bags or Do-it-yourself variations of brightly colored silk scarves are transmitted to the mouth and nose.

So if the Hong Kong researchers in their experiments with 111 infectious patients show that the virus output is reduced by a professional mouthguard for the infected, this is not a free pass for provisional masks. It is worth taking a closer look. This also applies to the experiments themselves: for understandable reasons, there were no Sars-CoV-2 infected among the infected test participants.

Rather, people have been identified who suffer from the consequences of other well-known cold viruses: influenza and rhinoviruses as well as endemic coronaviruses that have been circulating in the world for decades. They are similar to the new corona virus, the causative agent of Covid 19 disease, in two crucial respects: They are also RNA viruses and are widely distributed when sneezing, coughing and when talking with droplets when wet.

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