New study claims ‘humid’ cloth masks lessen COVID impact
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BETHSADA, Maryland, February 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Researchers attached to an American national institute say they have evidence that masks are good for you: allegedly they keep your lungs hydrated, washing away viruses.
Joseph M. Courtney and Ad Bax of the Health and Human Services’ National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) have published a mask study in the March 16, 2021 Biophysical Journal. It presents their theory that cloth masks might lessen the sufferings of their wearers if they were to contract COVID-19. In short, they conclude that breathing your warm, moist expelled air back into your lungs cleans germs out of your airways.
“We propose that the recently reported, disease-attenuating effect of generic facemasks is dominated by the strong humidity increase of inspired air,” Courtney and Bax wrote in the abstract of their study.
“This elevated humidity promotes mucociliary clearance of pathogens from the lungs, both before and after an infection of the upper respiratory tract has occurred,” they continued.
“Effective mucociliary clearance can delay and reduce infection of the lower respiratory tract, thus mitigating disease severity. This mode of action suggests that masks can benefit the wearer even after an infection in the upper respiratory tract has occurred, complementing the traditional function of masks to limit person-to-person disease transmission.”
The researchers say that the “well-documented finding” that masks mitigate the effects of COVID-19 are “surprising considering that such masks are poor at filtering the smallest aerosol particles, which can reach the lower respiratory tract and have been associated with severe disease.”
The solution to the mystery, they say, is hot air.
“We show that facemasks strongly increase the effective humidity of inhaled air, thereby promoting hydration of the respiratory epithelium [protective tissue], which is known to be beneficial to the immune system," they wrote.
“Increased humidity of inspired air could be an alternate explanation for the now well-established link between mask wearing and lower disease severity.”
Citing studies of the effects of dehydration on respiratory illnesses in mice, the researchers propose that masks act as “a temporary water storage site.”
“The mask absorbs much of the water in exhaled breath that becomes supersaturated upon cooling when exiting the mouth; upon subsequent inspiration of dry air, this water evaporates and thereby humidifies the air that passes through this hydrated mask,” they wrote.
The experiment involved a volunteer breathing into a special metal box, either without a mask or while wearing one of four types of masks tested: the N95, a disposable three-ply surgical mask, a two-ply cotton-polyester mask and a heavy all-cotton mask. The researchers measured the moisture that got through different kinds of masks and came to the conclusion that “high density cotton masks” do the best job at keeping airways hydrated. Courtney and Bax stated that they were “rudimentary equivalents” to the heat-exchanger masks used to ameliorate the effects of asthma caused by the cold.
“At all temperatures, the humidification resulting from the heavy cotton mask is about double that of a surgical mask, with the N95 and cotton-polyester cloth masks falling in between,” Courtney and Box reported.
They say that the studies that show that mask usage “conferred not only a protective effect in terms of disease transmission but also a striking decrease in disease severity”, and that this decrease comes from the infected person getting a “lower dose” of the disease-causing virus.
Meanwhile, they admit that the reported efficacy of mask-wearing cannot be due to keeping the virus out, for cloth masks can’t filter out the tiny particles.
“It is well recognized that only particles smaller than a few microns can enter the small airways and cause infection of the lungs, commonly associated with increased disease severity relative to infection of the upper respiratory tract," they wrote.
“However, cloth masks are relatively poor at filtering out these smallest particles. So, even though cloth masks are expected to lower the incidence of infection, their protective effect to the wearer will be less for the smallest particles, which are associated with more severe disease, opposite to observation.”
Thus, they propose that the “increased humidity of air” breathed through face masks is responsible for allegedly ameliorating the effects of COVID-19 on their wearers. They add as a caveat to their recommendation of cotton masks that their experiment relied on a lack of air leakage. Thus, they recommend the tighter-fitting N95 mask when around others, while wearing the cotton mask if quarantining at home.
Canada’s National Post tweeted a link to an article about the study published by their affiliate “Healthing.ca” blog. In response, readers tweeted their reactions to the idea of lung moisturizing masks. One objected to the dangers of breathing in one’s own expelled CO2. Another linked to a study about the side-effects of mask-wearing among German schoolchildren. Still another linked to quotes from an article in New Scientist blaming bacterial pneumonia for the deaths in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.
One Twitter user had a personal response to the idea that re-inhaling the air in her mask was good for her immune system:
“Explain that to the staph infection in my nose and the pneumonia in my lungs as a direct result of masks,” tweeted “EllieB Block Party Production”.
A panel of doctors at LifeSiteNews’s recent “Unmaking COVID-19" conference took aim at the mainstream promotion of wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Sheri Tenpenny, Dr. Eric Nepute and Dr. Pam Popper questioned the belief that masks are good for health. Nepute remarked on the numbers of people who have been suffering from respiratory bacterial infections.
“If you look at what’s happening right now and if you look at death certificates and you look at correlative deaths with COVID-19, what we find above all things is bacterial respiratory infections,” he said.
In November 2020 a major study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine found no statistically significant difference in COVID-19 cases between mask-wearers and non-mask-wearers.
Less than a year ago Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBSNews’ 60 Minutes that “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”
“When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face,” Fauci said at that time.
Dr. Theresa Deisher, who has Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from Stanford University, stated in a December interview that wearing a mask “can hinder [the] functioning of your immune system.”
Exasperated at the effect mask wearing has on healthy people, Deisher observed that “we have people wearing masks, I mean I see them out by themselves, no one in sight, walking their dogs: they’re terrified, they’re wearing masks and they’re locked down.” She added that “when they come out, they’re not going to have immune systems.”
Deisher noted that “87% of new [COVID-19] cases in the U.S. almost always wear a mask, so it looks like the masks increase your risk of getting infected about 12-fold.”
In contradiction to locking down and masking up, experts have shown that getting fresh air and exercise contributes to building a strong immune system. Moreover, numerous studies show that by supplementing your vitamin D intake and maintaining a balanced diet, one can reduce the severity of any symptoms in case of contracting COVID.