Japanese supercomputer shows doubling masks offers little help in preventing viral spread
Japanese supercomputer simulations showed wearing two masks offered limited blocking advantage viral spread compared to a properly fitted mask.
The results partially contradict recent recommendations from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that two masks were better than one at reducing a person’s exposure to coronavirus.
Researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the flow of viral particles from people wearing different types and combinations of masks, according to a study released Thursday by research giant Riken and Kobe University.
Using a single surgical-type mask, made of non-woven material, had an 85% effectiveness in blocking particles when worn tightly around the nose and face. Adding a polyurethane mask on top increased the efficiency to just 89%.
Wearing two non-woven masks is not helpful as air resistance builds up and causes leakage around the edges.
“The performance of double masking just doesn’t match,” wrote the researchers, led by Makoto Tsubokura.
In general, professional-grade N95 masks were best at protecting against infection, followed by nonwoven masks, cloth masks, and finally polyurethane types, the study showed.
The Riken research team previously used the Fugaku supercomputer to model how humidity can affect viral contagion and infection risks in trains, workspaces and other environments.
As the COVID-19 epidemic has continued, scientific consensus has grown that the virus is spreading through the air and that masks are effective in controlling contagion.
(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)