Masks, now yes, now no: what do we know about the regulations and the evidence about their effectiveness (Clear X, 1x95)

The Spanish Government has decreed the mandatory use of masks in closed and open spaces whenever the safety distance cannot be ensured. Despite this, the complication of guidelines that seem to change every day raises many questions. Behind the how and when to use the masks there are other questions to answer: what does science say about it?

The scientific evidence on masks does not seem as conclusive as the laws that require their use. However, there are good reasons for taking action despite the fact that the scientific consensus is still far from being established. What do we know about its effectiveness? Why has the government's opinion changed so much since the start of the pandemic? What types of masks are there and what protection do they offer?

This is what we discussed in the last episode of Despeja la X, in which Andrés Mohorte, coordinator of Magnet (@Mohorte), and myself, Santiago Campillo (@Scruzcampillo), editor at Xataka specialized in science, participate. As always, the production is in charge of Santi Araújo (@santiaraujo).

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Masks, unnecessary, recommended or mandatory?

Among the first issues to address is the burden of the mandatory use of masks. What can it cost us to use a disposable mask per day and per person? The investment that we will have to make has forced the price of these protection elements to be regulated and the supply system to be improved. However, once this basic aspect has been solved, another question arises when using it: how effective are they?

Throughout this pandemic, we have observed that guidelines and recommendations do not always appear to be up to date in terms of scientific evidence. This is due to an intrinsic question of science, which is the speed at which it advances. Obtaining results and establishing a consensus in the scientific community is a process that takes years and hundreds or thousands of studies. One of the most serious issues of this pandemic, without a doubt, is the ignorance with which we have faced the new coronavirus.

As new data and evidence emerge we can bet on more accurate social protection measures, with less danger of error. However, it is still too early to have truly agreed rigorous measures. On the other hand, it is still essential to adopt them in order to mitigate the ravages of a highly virulent virus. In such a scenario, and contrary to what was originally thought, the masks seem to present a relatively good measure of protection with few adverse effects.

Another unavoidable question is about what type of mask should be used depending on the person and the situation. In the market we have different versions available, each with its own characteristics and prices. All these questions, and something else, we review in today's chapter with the aim of clearing some of the doubts about the protection offered by masks.

Every week a new chapter

And remember: every Thursday you have a new chapter in our podcast Despeja la X, in which we thoroughly analyze the great technological issue of each week.

Thanks for joining us!

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