Healthcare/Biosafety

Mask or Shield? Sputnik’s Version of Japanese Scientists’ Study

15 December, 2020

On December 11, Sputnik Georgia published an article titled “Popular Method of Protection from Coronavirus is Pointless: Japanese Study”. According to the article, Japanese scientists found that popular protection methods from COVID-19 do not actually offer protection from infection and this is evidenced by an article published in Physics of Fluids journal by Japanese scientists. Namely, it is a research carried out by the University of Fukuoka specialists about the movement of airflows around face protection tools. The article comes with a photo from a Twitter account that assesses the efficiency of masks. The tweet includes a link to a study published by scientists from the National University of Singapore, published in the Physics of Fluids. Sputnik Georgia does not clearly claim which protective tools the Japanese scientists studied and concludes at the end of the article that according to the Japanese scientists’ conclusion, “masks or shields” have to be improved by all means and adds that the latter are already working on it. On the same day, News Front Georgia also published a similar article with a different title – “Masks or Shields Have to Be Improved by Any Means”.

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The claim that the Japanese scientists concluded that the face shield and mask are pointless is misleading. 1. The study by the University of Fukuoka scientists only concern the efficiency of face shields under specific circumstances and do not concern face masks at all. Moreover, the study does not question the efficiency of the shield. 2. The photo, attached to the article, is from the article by the scientists from the National University of Singapore, which assesses the efficiency of various face masks and underlines their importance in preventing the pandemic.

1. The study by the scientists from the University of Fukuoka only concerns the face shield efficiency and no other protection tools, including masks, are discussed there.

On December 8, a scientific edition Physics of Fluids published a study titled “Effect of sneezing on the flow around a face shield”. The study aims to study the efficiency of using the face shield for medical workers while the patient, who they are treating, sneezes or coughs.

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Based on an analysis and study of the movement of COVID-19-containing particles, the authors state that the virus can bypass the face shield from below and cause an infection. It is noteworthy that the study does not mention other means of protection, such as face masks, as the prevention capabilities of the face shields were studied independently from the face masks.

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Source: Physics of Fluids

One of the co-authors of the study, Fujio Akagi, explains in his December 13 interview with Indian Express that while face shields do help prevent infection, there is an increased risk of infection if only a face shield, without a surgical mask, is worn. According to Akagi, they are now developing improved shields, so that the need to wear surgical masks underneath them would disappear.

2.The photo with face masks is from another study, which assesses the efficiency of various face masks and underlines their importance in preventing the pandemic.

The photo with face masks is from a study, published by the scientists from the National University of Singapore.

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The authors of the study attempted to determine the features of a face mask that offers the most protection from the coronavirus based on studying the movement trajectory and the nature of liquid particles containing COVID-19. The study points out that various face masks offer different degree of protection from the virus. The study assesses the face masks by various factors, including comfort.

According to the summary of the study, “the facemasks have shown their potential for preventing the spread of respiratory diseases. A variety of facemasks ranging from a simple homemade cloth mask to the ventilated respirators have played their role in the current COVID-19 pandemic”.

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Moreover, the image attached to the Sputnik’s article that shows the assessment of the efficiency of face masks, is manipulative, as it creates the false perception that the study by the Japanese scientists concerned the efficiency of the face masks. The last sentence of the article – “Japanese scientists concluded that the face masks or shields should be improved“ – mentions both face masks and shields, but does not indicate that the main topic of the Japanese scientists’ study was face shields, exemplifying yet another manipulation and promoting the development of inaccurate perceptions in the context of anti-mask campaign.


By Ana Chitaladze


Links to the archive:
Sputnik’s article https://archive.ph/7c1G4
News Front’s article https://archive.ph/oWgSR


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