Face Masks May Make COVID-19 Less Severe

TUESDAY, July 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Wearing a face mask might cut down on how much virus you breathe in and lessen the severity of any infection, a new report suggests.

Masks can prevent spreading the virus to others, but they may also reduce the severity of symptoms, and for some, prevent infection altogether, researchers said Tuesday.

Different types of masks "block virus to a different degree, but they all block the virus from getting in," researcher Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Francisco, told The New York Times.

If some particles do get through, the disease might be milder, she added.

The researchers gleaned their findings from animal experiments and observations during the pandemic.

Dr. Tsion Firew, an emergency physician at Columbia University in New York City, told the Times that the findings aren't definitive.

But, the study "reiterates what we say about masks," she said. "It's not just a selfless act."

That face masks can lessen disease severity, while not proven, "makes complete sense," said Linsey Marr, an expert in virus transmission at Virginia Tech, told the Times. "It's another good argument for wearing masks."

Masks aren't a substitute for other measures like physical distancing and hand-washing, but they are easy and sustainable, Gandhi said. It's "as simple as covering up the two holes in your face that shed the virus," she explained.

Her report will be published in the August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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