(ORDO NEWS) — And again, let’s talk about masks. Despite the fact that in some regions of Russia the mandatory mask regime has been canceled, we will not forget about them soon. The fact is that even for people who have been vaccinated, doctors recommend that they continue to observe preventive measures. This is because scientists still do not know if recently vaccinated people can be carriers of coronavirus infection.
In the meantime, while researchers are engaged in important business, people around the world choose their own protective masks. And the new year 2021 sets new trends – masks with copper and silver ions. Yes, it is these masks that are difficult to find in pharmacies today, since the demand for them significantly exceeds the supply. So, over the past few months, an unprecedented surge has occurred in the market for copper materials – the demand for copper sheets, socks and face masks has grown several times.
All because of advertising in which it is argued that tissue with copper and silver ions is capable of killing microbes. Experts, however, say consumers need to be careful as copper is not a panacea for the new coronavirus. So how effective are these masks in fighting COVID-19?
Copper ion protective masks
Copper is known to kill germs and even help limit the spread of infections like E.coli, Salmonella and the flu, and recent scientific studies have shown that copper has the potential to fight the new coronavirus as well. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the virus lasted only a few hours on copper, compared to a few days on stainless steel and plastic – although The New York Times notes that researchers do not consider surfaces to be the primary mode of human transmission for coronavirus to a person.
Copper utensils have been used for drinking since ancient India. This is because copper is a natural antimicrobial material that can sterilize the surface on its own without the need for electricity or an antiseptic.
Another study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that copper ion masks “can significantly reduce the risk of contamination of the hands or the environment, and therefore subsequent contamination, from improper handling and disposal of masks.” (It’s worth noting, however, that the study was carried out by scientists who work at Cupron, which makes the same masks.)
Since the human immune system uses copper to fight microbes, according to Michael Schmidt, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, copper’s ability to fight viruses is like a “pomegranate . ” But in order for the copper masks to work properly, the amount of copper in them must be sufficient to fight off viral particles. In turn, microbiologist Michael Johnson from the University of Arizona notes that metal ions are found in about 40% of proteins with known structures – and when copper enters a cell or virus, it can displace other metal ions that can inhibit or destroy proteins.
Still, the durability of such masks is a concern, especially if they are frequently washed or disinfected, as many household cleaning products contain compounds that can remove copper ions. According to Williams Schaffner, medical director of the US National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the idea that copper ion masks protect against viruses better than conventional masks is “dubious.” He added that he is much less concerned about the specific materials from which the masks are made, since the main thing is that people wear them at all.
Interestingly, researchers previously believed that using copper on hospital surfaces could help keep the virus under control – although experts warned that exposure to copper is not instantaneous and therefore should not replace hand washing, social distancing, and other preventative measures to protect against the new coronavirus. But do antimicrobial masks prevent coronavirus infection?
As reported on the WHO website, COVID-19 is mainly spread through human-to-human contact or contact with certain contaminated surfaces. There is limited information on the effectiveness of wearing a mask made from antimicrobial material. Also, those who wear antimicrobial masks may feel more protected despite the paucity of evidence. This false confidence can lead to wearers less likely to disinfect the mask, which can reduce its effectiveness.
The surgical mask creates a physical barrier between the wearer’s mouth and nose and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Surgical masks come in a variety of thicknesses and capacities to protect a person from contact with liquids. These properties can also affect how easy it is to breathe through the mask, as well as the mask’s ability to protect against infection.
When worn correctly, a surgical mask helps block large droplets and splashes that may harbor germs (viruses and bacteria). Remember that surgical masks are for single use only . If your mask is damaged or stained, or if breathing becomes difficult through it, the mask must be properly removed and discarded and replaced with a new one. Hands should be thoroughly washed before putting on, removing or discarding the mask.
As for other types of protective masks, I recommend reading our material on many types of protective masks. Well, returning to masks with copper and silver ions, it is likely that protective equipment with such characteristics will be used to combat future pandemics. There are already standards for measuring the effectiveness of disinfectants, for example against microbes. But when it comes to safely reusing face masks, I would like to see more evidence. So we will wait for further research.
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