Wearing masks could prevent severe COVID-19 infection, say expertsLast updated on Oct 13, 2020, 05:19 pm
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, experts have stressed the importance of wearing face masks/coverings.
Such coverings not only prevent an infected person from transmitting the virus to others by filtering exhaled air, but also offer some protection to a wearer from inhaling the virus.
And even if you do contract COVID-19 with a mask, the disease will likely be less severe.
Viral load linked to severity of infection
The amount of coronavirus required to cause infection remains unknown.
However, studies have shown that a low viral load may not cause an infection, or at least, cause a less severe infection.
Experts say a face mask limits a wearer's exposure to the virus, making them less likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19, if they contract an infection at all.
'Few virus particles may give immune system time to fight'
Dr. Paul Pottinger of Seattle's UW Medicine Center told ABC-affiliate KOMO News, "When we see a respiratory virus in our system, the immune system will respond."
"If it's only a few particles of the virus, that may be enough time, or enough for our own immune cells to get there, and fight off that infection," Dr. Pottinger said, "You'd have a milder case."
If everyone starts wearing masks, virus transmission rate drops
Studies have shown that if 100% of the people adopt face masks, the reproduction number of the virus, R0, can fall below one.
An R0 of one implies that an infected person can transmit the disease to one other person.
Hence, an R0 value below one would imply that lesser number of people are falling sick and the outbreak is slowing down.
37.8 million infected by coronavirus worldwide
Globally, the coronavirus has sickened 37.8 million people and killed 1.08 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University's tracker.
The United States is the worst-hit nation with 7.8 million infections and over two lakh deaths.
Meanwhile, India is the second worst-hit, reporting over 7.1 million infections and a death toll of over one lakh.
Both nations have notably witnessed a dip in infections.