Is wearing 2 masks more effective than 1? Doctors weigh in
LANGFORD -- By now, you don’t leave home without a protective face mask. Most people wear just one, but now that there are new and more contagious variants of COVID-19 circulating, there is talk that wearing two masks at the same time may be the way to go.
“If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it will likely be more effective,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States.
Here in British Columbia, Health Minister Adrian Dix says double masking is up for debate.
“There has been some discussion on double masking and it’s certainly something that people can consider,” said Dix.
When CTV News asked people in Victoria what they thought of the idea, everyone said they didn’t have a problem with it. Local resident Barry Till says he’s already been doubling up.
“I’ve been doing this even before it was fashionable with Dr. Fauci,” said Till.
He has been double masking for the last two months.
“I always felt the cloth masks that people were giving me (weren't) quite tight enough,” he said. “When you’ve got the medical mask, the blue one, it goes right around your nose and you put the other one on and it just feels like there’s two layers.”
Family physician Dr. Amy Tan agrees. Mask effectiveness is more about the fit, which is ultimately what is going to protect you and others.
“So, the double masking, it is more about double filtration,” she said. “I would actually argue it’s more about making sure at least one of those masks are fitting better, closer, tighter against your face. That is actually going to be more protective.”
Tan says that wearing a second mask can help keep the first layer snug over your face.
Questions about how to effectively wear a mask have resurged since new COVID-19 variants began appearing across the globe.
“Because it is more easily spread among humans, it is being seen in Europe, the U.K., Ireland and other countries, that it is very easily taking over as the dominant strain,” said Tan of the U.K. variant.
The science is still out, but it’s estimated that the new variants are between 40 to 80 per cent more contagious.
The variants have some wondering if we should be following in Barry Till’s footsteps.
“Now I’m playing with the idea of maybe having one of those plastic masks,” said Till. “One of those visor things too.”