Several pathogenic microbes were identified and quantified on masks worn during the pandemic, according to a Japanese study that was published in Scientific Reports.
“Since masks can be a direct source of infection to the respiratory tract, digestive tract, and skin, it is crucial to maintain their hygiene to prevent bacterial and fungal infections that can exacerbate COVID-19,” the authors wrote.
The study involved 109 participants aged 21 to 22 years who were asked about the type and duration of mask used and their lifestyle habits. Bacteria and fungi were collected from the three types of masks—gauze, polyurethane, and non-woven—worn between September and October 2020.
The researchers found that the face side of the masks had more bacteria, whereas the outer side of the masks contained more fungi.
In addition, longer use of the mask resulted in an increase in fungi but not in bacteria because “fungi and their spores are resistant to drying, they can survive under the condition where masks dry out.”
Non-woven masks were found to have fewer fungal colony counts on the outer side compared to the other two mask types. Non-woven masks have three layers, two-layer fabric with a non-woven middle layer filter.
Researchers said they were surprised to find that there were no significant differences in the numbers of bacteria or fungi on washable or reusable masks that had been washed.
Lifestyle HabitsThe researchers also examined whether certain lifestyle habits such as gargling, consumption of natto, and use of the different modes of transportation—public transportation, personal vehicle, and walking or biking— had any effect on the microbial counts on the masks.
“We found no differences in the bacterial or fungal colony counts on both sides of the masks among the three transportation systems,” the authors wrote.
FLCCC Alliance is a nonprofit organization consisting of critical care specialists who’ve dedicated their time to developing treatment protocols to “prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and to improve the outcomes for patients ill with the disease.”
As for the consumption of natto, soybeans that are fermented with a bacterium called bacillus subtillis or B. subtilliss, the researchers said that the participants who consumed the sticky soybeans, “had a significantly higher incidence of large white B. subtillis colonies on both sides of the masks than those who did not.”
Pathogenic MicrobesWhile most of the bacteria and fungi cultured from the masks were not harmful to humans, some were opportunist pathogens, while others were found to cause diseases like bacteria that cause food poisoning and staph infections, and a fungus that causes ringworm, athlete's foot, and jock itch.
From their findings, the authors of the study suggest that people with a weakened immune system should “avoid repeated use of masks to prevent microbial infection.”
The health agency did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on the findings of the Japanese study.
Scientific EvidenceEpidemiologist and researcher Dr. Paul Alexander disagree. He says that there are over 150 studies and articles that conclude cloth and surgical masks are not effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and does more harm.
“The available clinical evidence of facemask efficacy is of low quality and the best available clinical evidence has mostly failed to show efficacy, with fourteen of sixteen identified randomized controlled trials comparing face masks to no mask controls failing to find statistically significant benefit in the intent-to-treat populations,” the authors wrote.
“Although weak evidence should not preclude precautionary actions in the face of unprecedented events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, ethical principles require that the strength of the evidence and best estimates of amount of benefit be truthfully communicated to the public,” they added.
They found that participants in the mask group “were significantly more likely to experience headache during the study period” and concluded that “face mask use in health care workers has not been demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds.”