In some countries, there is still a lot of resistance against wearing mouth masks. Nevertheless, it does appear to have an effect in the fight against corona, according to a study published yesterday by the University of Cambridge. According to Cambridge, a combination of a smart lockdown and mandatory wearing of mouth masks can even ensure that the so-called R-value remains below 1 in the event of a new virus wave. A value below 1 means that the virus can hardly spread. This gives society more time and space to develop a vaccine.

The researchers, therefore, call for a major information campaign in all countries with the slogan “My facemask protects you, our facemask protects me”. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

The researchers have carried out various model analyses. First of all, they came to the conclusion that it is very important that everyone wears masks and not only people with symptoms. Furthermore, the R-value also decreases if people do not use the masks perfectly, for example, because they rub their faces with infected hands. According to Cambridge, this also applies to wearing relatively simple homemade mouth masks.

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    Statically loaded mouth masks

    A higher quality of masks is, of course, even better. And also on this front, there are new developments. For example, the Free University of Berlin yesterday announced that together with the Swiss company Livinguard and the RWTH University of Aachen, it is working on a chemical treatment of textiles that offers 99.9% protection against the Covid-19 virus.

    What Livinguard’s technology actually does is to provide the textile with a positive static electrical charge. Since the molecules of viruses and bacteria are negatively charged, they die as soon as they come into contact with the textile.

    According to the FU Berlin, the masks offer protection for several hours in a row. Furthermore, technological innovation has no negative side effects on the skin and is also durable, as the masks can be reused up to 200 times (after cleaning).

    Transparent surgical mask

    Another innovation comes from the Swiss knowledge institutes EPFL and Empa. They have been working for years on a transparent surgical mask. The idea for this came during the big Ebola outbreak in Africa. Doctors then noticed how annoying it is to have to treat people from behind a mask. Especially in communication with children and the elderly, the lack of facial expressions causes problems.

    Empa’s technicians, therefore, went in search of a transparent material that protects just as well as other masks. And after two years of searching, they found the solution in a material made of biomass.

    EPFL and Empa set up the start-up HMCARE to further develop and produce the masks. The first masks are expected next year under the name HelloMasks. They will be masks with not the highest degree of protection, but good enough for, for example, people in elderly care, general practitioners or dentists. Yesterday, HMCARE announced it has raised €1 million for the further development of the mask.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.