Ómicron demands better masks

Even if in their day they were described as “selfish & rdquor; for Fernando Simón, have always been highly recommended, but now they are needed more than ever. Wearing FFP2 or FFP3 masks indoors is one of the most important protective measures which we can take to protect ourselves from the high transmission capacity of the omicron variant, which is considered to be the fastest spreading virus in history. In Italy, it is mandatory in public interior and the US government will distribute 400 million of it for free among its citizens. In Spain, however, Surgical and material dominate, less effective but cheaper and with a super-reduced VAT of 4%.

“We will distribute free high-quality masks to the American people. It is important to transfer covid and omicron & rdquor; to stop, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, recently announced.

Almost simultaneously, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned for the first time that cloth masks – the most common in the US – are not as effective as other options. “Wear the most protective mask you can & rdquor;” the agency encouraged. CDC experts explain that well-fitting surgical masks are better than cloth masks, and that N95s – the US standard equivalent to the European FFP2 – offer the highest level of protection.

This is how FFP2 masks trap viruses

The straps behind the neck – not the usual ear protectors – significantly improve efficiency. A recent study indicated that FFP2 with straps at the neck allows only 1% of the incoming air to pass through, while ear protectors leave 16% unfiltered, and cloth and surgical, from 44% to 71%. The FFP2 fibers work like a cobweb. Its electrostatic charge captures microscopic aerosol particles that carry viruses.

A recent study published in the scientific journal ‘Journal of Infectious Diseases’ indicates that masks halve the distance pathogens travel in the air, such as the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. According to scientists at the University of Central Florida, the research provides clear evidence that it is better to keep a distance of one meter with masks than to stay two meters without it.

As highlighted by aerosol expert José Luis Jiménez, engineer and professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado (USA), any type of mask is always better than none, but the best is fitting FFP2. The Zaragoza scientist emphasizes that FFP2 also prevents short-distance inhalation. On his Twitter profile, @jljcolorado, the scientist from Zaragoza, one of the most quoted in the world in his field, warns that FFP2 “overprotectors” are not real FFP2, but a pandemic solution that does not ensure a good fit not. Instead, he recommends the FFP2 or FFP3 that have straps to fit it to the neck and / or head. Also the elastomers, which are reusable, although they are very difficult to find in Spain.

A hole of 2% of the surface of the mask allows 50% of the air to pass through without filteringHence the importance of fit. If you do not have access to buy FFP2 for its price, a solution is to use rubber bands to fit the surgical bands well to the face. The short video tutorial explains in 40 seconds how to make these elastic strips yourself: it just makes a rubber sheet, scissors and a template that can be downloaded for free on the page web Fixthemask.com.

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Inequality of choice between authorities

The scientific authorities are clear about it; politics, somewhat less. US President Joe Biden (1) wears FFP2 masks, in line with his decision to distribute them among the public. In Spain, Queen Letizia (2) always wears them, especially the CSIC model that Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (3) has exhibited several times, although in this recent photo she shows a more dubious cloth with the flag of Spain wear. The president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo (4), started wearing an FFP2-type mask with the typical yellow arrow of the Camino de Santiago and the Galicia and Xacobeo 2021-2022 logos. Until now, he has preferred cloth masks with the same advertisement, such as those that the Minister of Health, Julio García Comesaña (8), also usually wears. Nearly a year ago, on January 27, 2021, Feijóo raised in the Galician parliament that FFP2 masks are mandatory in certain areas, such as public transport, while asking the government for “economic measures, because FFP2 costs much more than the surgical one “rdquor ;. Neither one nor the other was applied in practice, and neither Feijóo nor Comesaña were characterized by wearing high-protection masks in their appearance. Nor does Labor Minister Galicia Yolanda Díaz (5), who has returned to activity after testing positive for covid, usually wear cloth with decorative motifs. His partner Carolina Darias (6), head of health, does tend to bet on the greater security of a sober FFP2. After all, masks are protective elements, not aesthetic, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel (7), a physicist by training, knew until recently, and who almost always used FFP2.


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