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The protectiveness of coronavirus masks, ranked from best to worst

In case you’ve been under a rock for all of 2020, there’s this thing called COVID-19 going ’round.

Whilst masks have been the new normal for many overseas for quite some time now, they’re only just starting to become mandatory, or at the very least encouraged, in Australia. People everywhere are using masks to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic – but just which type of mask is the best of the bunch? We investigate.

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Photo – Pixabay

In the age of coronavirus, now is the time to rank masks. Below are three of the most common masks, ranked from most protective to least.

1. N95/N99 masks

Photo – Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

These suckers are medical-grade, aka the best of the best. N95 and N99 protection are superior for a few reasons. Firstly, they seal tightly around your face, ensuring that most viral particles are filtered. Secondly, they’re also effective at filtering airborne pathogens by containing tangled fibres. Researchers have found that these masks prevent the risk of infection by 94-99%. So yeah, ultra-protective.

2. Surgical masks

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Photo – Thomas Imo/Photothek/Getty Images

You’ve definitely seen these ones before. The stock standard surgical mask is a great go-to for these strange times. If a healthcare worker can’t get an N95 or N99 mask, this is what they use. Sure, they aren’t the best of the best, but according to a 2013 study, they’re three times more effective than a home-made mask. Speaking of…

3. Homemade masks

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Photo – YzabelStudio.com

Aesthetically, I get it. homemade masks offer the chance for a bit of personalisation as well as comfort. As you may have expected, they’re not quite as good as the medical-grade options, but that’s not to say they’re worthless by any means. Hybrid ones (combining two layers of cotton with a layer of silk, flannel or chiffon) still filter 80-90% of particles! When it comes to homemade, it’s definitely the more layers of material, the better. WHO specifically recommends that fabric masks have three layers.

However, even if you can only get one layer, some protection is better than none at all. Plus, you never know when you’ll need to have one at the ready, there are now 4 situations in NSW where you really should be wearing a mask.

One last note, for the adventurous, apparently a vacuum cleaner bag suffices as an alternative to a surgical mask. Very Mad Max

So there you have it! However, you’re still here so… maybe none of these really speak to you? Maybe masks are entirely pointless? If this is your perspective, not to worry! Take our test to see which anti-mask advocate you are.