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B.J. Lawson

Beyond the Mask — Minimizing Risk

Articles Why is everyone not equally affected by illness? In our prior article, we outlined Why Masks Work -- by reducing the dose of exposure to infectious particles. Thanks to the S-shaped "sigmoidal" shape of the dose-response curve, a face covering that blocks only half of infectious particles can still make a significant difference. In our hypothetical example, reducing exposure from 60k particles down to 30k particles could reduce the risk of sickness from 80% to 5%. Individual Risk: Susceptibility However, this dose-response curve describes the likelihood of getting sick for a group of people. In other words, in a...

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B.J. Lawson

It’s the Dose — Why Masks Work

Articles What makes a good mask, and how do masks protect us from getting sick? Masks work by reducing the amount of infectious particles (like a virus) that get into our bodies. While that might seem obvious, the bigger question is how many particles does a mask need to block to be effective?One important point is that the mask does not need to block all (or nearly all) of them. With a new virus like the coronavirus circling the globe, our immune system actually needs to be exposed to a little bit of the virus in order to recognize it,...

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