I may have been lucky, but a major reason I have not caught COVID yet is my discipline with masks and sanitizers. As more research pours in, it is becoming clear that COVID-19 spreads mostly through the aerial route. There have been speculations that aerosol transmission (vs big droplets) is a significant medium. Aerosols are very unlike big droplets, they don’t settles in 5-10 minutes. The fine droplets in an aerosol can stay up in the air for hours with very little or no wafts. Aerosols can defy the 6ft apart logic. Aerosols can follow the air currents setup in a room by fans/ACs and carry the virus even as far as 40ft or more.
Effective protection involves three things –
- Covering nose+mouth
- Covering eyes (often missed easily)
- Frequently sanitizing hands.
I am not going to spend time on the third bullet. It has become common knowledge now. But the first two, which also happen to be the most important ones are often neglected. No wonder we have as many cases as we do in the world right now.
This mask in the above picture is a joke. It does nothing to protect you. It only partially helps to protect other people a bit if you have caught COVID-19. So are the normal surgical masks shown below
The N95 and N99 masks shown below have some limited use. But it requires great skill and discipline to wear these right. Ask a medico to understand how much care they take while wearing these masks. Also, these masks need to be regularly replaced after a few days.
My go-to mask is the combination shown below –
Yes, I look like I am preparing for a chemical warfare holocaust, but the damn thing works. Why does it work?? It is not the filters, it is not the big complex housing.. It comes down to one simple thing… How good is the seal? The tight rubber fit is what makes these masks effective. I have worked with hospital staff for 2 months for ventilators and traveled from India to US with my family without catching COVID-19.
The mask consists of 4 parts.
The half-face unit – This is the skeleton of the mask. It is the re-usable part. The straps help to secure and seal the mask around your nose and mouth. Filters fit onto the holes marked as inlet.
The vapor-filter cartridges fit on to the half-face unit. The vapor-filter cartridges by themselves do not protect you from COVID-19. They are meant to protect you from harmful vapors/oils. The cartridges act as a base for the N95 filters to fit on. Also, they serve a very useful function; They block all smells and help to verify fit. If you get any smell of flowers, deodorants or even your sanitizer, it means you are not wearing the mask properly.
N95 filters – These are the things that protect you from COVID. For a normal user, a replacement once in a month or two is good enough.
The filters needs retainers that help to fix the filters on the top of the vapour-filter catridges.
The total construction of a mask unit consists of the following –
- 1 Half-face unit (order the right size). – 6000 series. The second digit indicates the size. e.g 6300 is the medium size. 6800 would be large size. 6100 would be small.
- 2 vapor filter catridges – 6003
- 2 N95 filters – 5N11
- 2 5N11 retainers.
Ordering links on Amazon India –
Ordering links on Amazon US –
There is no consensus on how much of COVID-19 transmission is going through eyes, but large virus loaded droplets on landing on your eyes could be as bad as droplets landing in your nose because eye lubrication ultimately drains into your nose. For those of us who do not wear spectacles for optical reason, here are the ordering links for 3M eye protection wear –
I am hoping I haven’t jinxed myself by writing this article! Fingers crossed.