In the age of COVID-19, most, if not all of us are using some form of protection when we step out of our houses. Most of us are wearing face masks, which is being recommended as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In Singapore, the government has even given out free reusable face masks to the population to encourage everyone to use it when outdoors. However, this may not be the most effective method. In this article, we are going to compare the effectiveness of face shields and face masks.
As we take measures to protect ourselves from the virus, a team of three doctors and public health experts from Iowa City is suggesting that perhaps the shield may be more useful than the mask.
Here’s an infographic which explains why:
Ruobing Su/Business Insider
“Face shields come in various forms, but all provide a clear plastic barrier that covers the face,” Doctors Eli Perencevich, Daniel Diekema, and Michael Edmond wrote in their JAMA Viewpoint. “For optimal protection, the shield should extend below the chin anteriorly, to the ears laterally, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece.”
Studies on face shields are scarce. However, one cough simulation study in 2014 argued that a shield could reduce a person’s viral exposure to a cough expelled less than 18 inches away by 96%.
Face shields also prevent droplets from coming into contact with the user’s face at all. This is a major plus point in comparison to face masks which only provides a filter for the nose and mouth.
For optimum effectiveness, users should consider wearing the face shield and face mask together.
In addition to this topic, Business Insider recently conducted a survey amongst 15 leading public health experts on the effectiveness of face masks on curbing the spread of the viruses. Their responses were not quite unanimous.
Many pointed out that homemade masks might fool people into a false sense of protection. This is applicable to our community, which has seen an increase of homemade masks being sewn and worn during the virus outbreak.
Furthermore, a study in 2013 comparing the effectiveness of homemade masks to surgical masks supports this argument. The study shows that both masks significantly reduce the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers. However, it is important to note that the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask. Therefore, homemade masks are likely to provide us with a false sense of security, when they are in fact not extremely effective against viruses.
Another point made was that face masks were not made for preventing the transmission of viruses. Face mask researcher and professor Ben Cowling, who studies infectious disease control at the University of Hong Kong says masks are not a perfect solution. He commented that it is worth considering new ways of protecting ourselves when out and about.
“I can imagine that we could find something even better than a surgical mask, because the surgical mask wasn’t designed especially for this purpose,” he said. “They weren’t designed to stop respiratory virus transmission specifically, although they do work quite well.”
With the outbreak of the virus coupled with the shortage of effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Additive3D Asia has developed several COVID-19 solutions. Amongst these are face shields which can prevent droplets from touching the user’s face.
The key difference between our in-house design and those available in the market is the fact that our face shields are movable. The 3D printed headband is adjustable and the plastic barrier is able to be lifted up when shield is not necessary, for example during temperature screening exercises.
Both adult and kid versions are available. 3D printed headbands can be customised for bulk orders.
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