Resource: Evidence and arguments around potential life-saving use of respirators and face masks, and DIY versions COVID-19

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Please add links in this thread and I’ll incorporate them as they arrive.

A fantastically well argued and scientific YouTube dissection of the value of masks, and COVID-19 itself - everything you need is here. 35 minutes

Note: I might remove replies once I’ve harvested the links to keep this readable


There’s no clear guidance in the UK about use of facemasks for the general public, and a lot of energy went into telling the public that they offered no protection/were needed for the medical professionals etc, that they wouldn’t protect the wearer and the main benefit would be in protecting others from you if you were shedding virus (a pretty useful benefit, you might think) – to that end there’s not much face mask use in evidence publicly in the UK

However, with the emerging compelling evidence of the high proportion of viral spreading by asymptomatic carriers maybe that should change?

In the Czech Rep, you’re not allowed to leave your home without PPEPPE (and there’s a huge DIY PPE movement), and the CDC in the US gave this advice to medics: as a matter of last resort

Mask or respirator?

See an overview here but you’ll find that sometimes medical masks and N95 respirators are mixed up in even government guidelines (!) – much of this documentation is being rushed out, and adapted as the situation develops

For the purposes of home manufacture we’re likely talking about a device that approximates a medical mask: a thin material that covers the mouth and nose but does not meet the level of PPE (we’ll see: some very resourceful makers out there!)

Evidence and official guidance

This is from the CDC, but the link went wandering…

HCP use of homemade masks:
In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.

A small study scientific from 2008

Any type of general mask use is likely to decrease viral exposure and infection risk on a population level, in spite of imperfect fit and imperfect adherence, personal respirators providing most protection. Masks worn by patients may not offer as great a degree of protection against aerosol transmission

The World Health Organisation guide on medical face masks

Notes on the contents:

  • It’s strongly recommended for people with symptoms to wear medical masks.
  • WHO include very mild symptoms in their definition (including a slight fever and runny nose)
  • if you take the WHO guidance and then overlay it with the evidence that the majority of cases may be spread by asymptomatic carriers, this could be seen as strong case for widespread use of medical masks
  • they’re not talking about respirators or makeshift masks here

WHO-2019-nCoV-IPC_Masks-2020.2-eng.pdf (702.8 KB)

[Phenomenal online doc] curated by ( collating scientific studies and the evidence base for wearing masks

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It is in the whole of CzR, here’s a link it;s in czech though

’ Od 19. března 2020 se všem osobám zakazuje pobyt a pohyb mimo bydliště bez ochranných prostředků dýchacích cest.

says that since 19th March it is forbiden to leave your home without PPE

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7 posts were merged into an existing topic: Resource page: Home making of COVID-19 PPE | Facemasks: Calling sewers and seamsters!

This was what I’d planned as my first laser cutting project, but as the makerspace is closed I’ve been experimenting at home with what I had to hand.
I’ve made this ‘face apron’ out of clear tablecloth and the cover for electrical ducting. It has a separate elasticated band to go round the head and attaches to this with velcro loops. I know it’s really basic but I’m looking for easily disinfected impermeable full face protection which people can make at home.
Everything in the apron section can be dipped in dilute bleach to sanitise, & rinsed & dried off v quickly.
The band is made of curtain tape as it’s very strong and the threads can be pulled to adjust the size if needed.
The problems here are a) the plastic isn’t smooth enough for really good visibility & b) not a lot of protection from the sides, but making it deeper makes it harder to breathe.
I’m going to try sewing a cotton headress onto the band with velcro to connect with the plastic apron to improve b).
And tomorrow I will try using a plastic drinks bottle for the apron, which will help with a), though I’m not sure how durable it’ll be. Lidl juice bottles look like a good option for this!

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When worn it looks like this at present


The tide is turning…