Beauty & Wellness

ARE THEY OR AREN’T THEY? MEDICAL EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THE EFFECTIVITY OF ‘COPPERMASKS’ AGAINST COVID-19

Manufacturers of copper-infused face masks claim that their items are designed to protect individuals from COVID-19, but medical experts think otherwise.

/ 13 January 2021

Almost anywhere you go, there is surely at least one Filipino who wears a ‘Coppermask’ to protect him or herself from the COVID-19 virus.

The fad began when its manufacturers promised that the items can potentially block infectious droplets through their “strong antimicrobial layer, superior bacteria exterminator effect, and washable fabric filter.”

According to Durham University biochemist Karrera Djoko, copper has sanitizing abilities. In ancient Egypt, the material was even used as a water container to keep bacteria from growing.

“Even before we had a concept of what a germ is, we were using copper to contain water and keep it safe to drink,” Dr. Djoko said in an interview with The NewYork Times.

Even with these claims, the copper-infused masks remain questionable especially after a group of medical experts released a statement saying the item allows “unfiltered breath” to escape through the holes under the chin area.

“Face masks should cover your face from the bridge of your nose to under the chin. Masks with vents or exhalation valves are not advised because they allow the unfiltered breath to escape,” the Philippine College of Physicians said in a statement.

Experts from the Makati Medical Center also released an advisory against copper masks, stating the following on a Facebook post: “Makati Med’s Infection Prevention & Control recommends the use of secure-fit face masks without valves, slits, or holes for the safety and wellness of its patients, guests, and healthcare workers while inside the hospital.”

However, the Department of Health (DOH) believes that while Coppermasks are not for medical use, these items can still slow down the spread of COVID-19. 

“FDA has released advisory 2020-1181 which has the list of FDA notified medical face masks. In the said list, the copper mask is not included which means that they are not medical-grade,” the DOH said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, considering that it is still a face mask, it can still prevent the spread of COVID-19 mainly by acting as a physical barrier for droplets when a person emits droplets,” it concluded.

The health agency also shared a list of the approved medical-grade masks that can be seen here: https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/FDA-Advisory-No.2020-1181.pdf