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Wearing that face shield without a mask is a bad idea. Here’s why

Updated on:25 September 2020, 17:40pm IST
Offering much more comfort than N95 masks, face shields are gaining favour around the world. However, they might be completely ineffective in stopping covid-19.
face shields
Face shields might actually be useless in the fight against covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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By now most of us have accepted the fact that the covid-19 pandemic is here to stay. While some of us are still cooped up at home, barely stepping out, others are embracing the pandemic life as they dine out, shop at malls, and forgo the mask.

If you are a member of the latter tribe and have been leaning towards face shields, abandoning your N95 masks, then here is a piece of news that might jolt you into rethinking that decision. Face shields, if a recent study is to be believed, let 100% of covid-19 droplets escape.

Face shields are not as effective as you think them to be
Yes face shields are far more comfortable as compared to masks, but they might also be inefficient according to a research done at the Riken Centre in Japan.

You see, the Japanese researchers ran stimulation using Fugaku, which is considered to be the world’s fastest supercomputer, to understand just how useful this protective gear is.

Their findings suggest that face shields let 100% of airborne droplets, less than five micrometers in size, escape. This plastic shield, which is fast becoming a common occurrence, however, was slightly more effective with larger droplets—of which only 50% escaped.

Face shield
According to experts, face shields are only for professionals like doctors and lab assistants. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Team leader Makoto Tsubokura told the Guardian: “Judging from the results of the simulation, unfortunately, the effectiveness of face guards in preventing droplets from spreading from an infected person’s mouth is limited compared with masks.”

Wearing face shields can put you and those around you at risk
The most threatening part of coronavirus disease still remains that many of its sufferers show no symptoms, but are absolutely capable of infecting others. So when someone who is asymptomatic chooses to wear a shield instead of a proper mask, they put the people around them at high risk.

Wearing a face shield, without a mask, can also increase your chances of catching the infection—especially if the infectious droplets are small in size. Given that the disease is now considered to be airborne, particularly in poorly-ventilated indoor spaces—relying solely on plastic shields can be a dangerous gamble.

There is no denying that masks are perhaps the most uncomfortable part of 2020, but the truth also is that they are our best defence against fighting SARS-CoV-2.

So the next time you feel like donning that face shield, ensure that you wear a mask underneath first.

Meghna Kriplani Meghna Kriplani

Waging a war against diets one cookie at a time, Meghna is a content creator and editor focusing on women's issues, wellness, and lifestyle.