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Superimpose two masks to protect yourself from Covid-19, good or bad idea?

Superimpose two masks to protect yourself from Covid-19, good or bad idea? It's proven, the mask is an effective bulwark against Covid-19. But does it protect us enough from new variants of the virus? Faced with this new threat, the method of double masking is beginning to be adopted, particularly in the United States. Is it really useful?

There are those who don't want to wear a mask at all and those who want to wear two. Like the new President of the United States, Joe Biden, who has repeatedly appeared wearing two overlapping masks during his campaign.

Does going out doubly masked really allow us to be better protected against Covid-19 and its variants? Within the scientific community, two camps clash on the question.

An additional filter that could improve protection

According to a study by the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the results of which were published on Wednesday February 10, wearing two masks or adjusting a single surgical mask much more tightly by tying its ties are two options that would provide better protection against variants of Covid-19.

"These two methods reduced exposure to potentially infectious aerosols by more than 95% in a laboratory experiment using mannequins," the report states.

John T. Brooks, physician in charge of the covid-19 response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Superimpose two masks to protect yourself from Covid-19, good or bad idea? Source:CDC

“Double masking adds an extra layer of filter, making it even harder for virus-infested moisture drops to reach you or spread to others,” says Aline M. Holmes, professor Clinical Fellow at Rutgers University School of Nursing (USA) at .

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Professor Scott Segal, who conducted a study on the filtration capacities of different fabrics used in the manufacture of masks, confirms:"Wearing two masks may be a reasonable idea if the filtration capacity of the masks is not very strong". To Health Magazine , he suggests that wearing a relatively loose-fitting surgical mask with a snug-fitting cloth mask over it can create a better mask “sandwich.”

If you don't have a mask with good filtration capacity and a proper fit, two lower quality cloth face masks worn together could improve protection, US experts say. "Just make sure the first mask fits well over your nose and mouth," advises Dr. Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Finally, if wearing two masks makes it difficult to breathe, forget it. "No mask works if you can't wear it comfortably," admits Professor Segal. The risk would be to constantly want to shoot at them and make them ineffective.

No scientific evidence on the effectiveness of layering masks

“There is no scientific proof, had specified on January 18 to the newspaper Le Parisien Professor Didier Lepelletier, medical officer of health and co-president of the permanent Covid-19 group of the High Council for Public Health. A 2005 article says masks should not be overlapped. The recommendation is to wear a category 1 mask, validated and compliant."

In a new opinion sent on Sunday January 17 to the General Directorate of Health, the High Council for Public Health indeed advises against “homemade” and category 2 masks in the face of variants. Likewise, children must now wear category 1 masks in schools.

“I find that it is not very useful and that it multiplies the risk of doing badly, of touching your mask and therefore of contaminating yourself”, declared for his part Bruno Grandbastien, medical officer of health and president of the French Society of hospital hygiene on BFMTV .

An opinion shared by Fabien Squinazi, medical biologist and member of the High Council of Public Health for whom "double masking is not necessarily useful", he explained on the same news channel continuously. And to add:“By putting on two masks, we breathe a little less and therefore it is a little more embarrassing. And when we see that people today have difficulty wearing a single mask, I wonder how we will be able to wear two masks."

Beyond wearing a mask, it is important to continue to apply other barrier gestures such as hand washing, the use of hydroalcoholic gel and physical distancing, to protect against Covid-19 infection.

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