Surgical Masks Are No Substitute

A new Lancet article underscores the value of social distancing and face masks in controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus—but the research notes that one-layer cloth masks aren’t as effective as gold-standard N95 surgical masks, AP reports.   

The review of 172 studies doubled down on N95’s superiority over surgical cloth masks for health workers, adding pressure to WHO and the CDC to recommend N95s for essential workers over flimsier products, the New York Times reports.

The N95 Underworld

In the scramble to fill medical supply gaps, leaders have made it clear that they’re interested in any and all leads. That desperation has given way to a shadowy unregulated market of opportunists earning a hefty profit “flipping masks” and passing the extra costs to hospitals and government agencies.

Some brokers are making millions. One 3M N95 mask that lists for about $1.27 per mask sold to FEMA for $7 apiece.

“The harm is measured not just in the higher price … but in time wasted as health workers wait for gear that could mean the difference between life and death,” writes J. David McSwane.


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