So you’re wearing a mask. Well, mostly. Ok, so you started to walk fast, and breathe hard, and it’s just easier to pull that mask down a little bit under your nose, because, well, you’re still wearing it, right?
Well, not in a way that will likely help you or help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to new research. Per a new study in the journal Cell, there are specific areas where COVID-19 is most likely to cause infection. And unfortunately, lots of people are not covering the main region where exposure is most prevalent. In other words, that half-mask habit could be leaving you far more vulnerable than you think. Here’s why:
The coronavirus, it turns out, really likes your nose
In this study, the researchers engineered a SARS-CoV-2 reporter virus that was labeled with a fluorescent protein. This allowed them to search for and determine the mechanism by which the virus infects the respiratory tract.
“Interestingly, it was observed that the nasal regions had a higher susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2 infections, with subsequent seeding to the lower respiratory tract due to aspiration,” says Sunitha Posina, MD.
What does this mean? It’s a preliminary finding that suggests that “the nose holds more potential to become infected compared to the remaining of the respiratory tract (such as the throat and lungs),” she says. “When someone does not wear a mask, they are more likely to become infected when they inhale through their nose,” she explains.
And if someone is half-masking and they exhale, “they are likely to generate more potent infectious particles than if they exhaled via mouth, given that the nose has cells that have a higher affinity to become infected in comparison to the rest of the respiratory tract,” she continues.
The study also gives rise to possibly exploring nasal and topical treatments in the future.
So having a mask on your face is one thing, but having a mask that actually covers both your nose and mouth at the same time is what you should be going for. It’s so tempting to fudge it and try to make the whole mask thing a little easier to take. But pulling it off your nose may make COVID-19 much easier to get.
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