A recent tweet by Anand Mahindra, founder of Mahindra and Mahindra group of companies claiming a mask he had been gifted "destroys viruses" is false. His tweet was criticised by a few medical professionals as masks have not been proven to destroy any such viruses.
Mahindra in his tweet included a picture of the mask a - N95 - and thanked a friend for gifting it to him.
The ongoing hysteria around COVID-19, a Coronavirus strain that has impacted over 158 countries, has led to people actively hoarding masks and wearing them for regular use which are even inducing a sense of fear among people who are not currently wearing masks. The prices of the masks have also sky-rocketed. The World Health Organization has also stated that masks do not kill any viruses and should only be worn by people who are either exhibiting symptoms of the virus or are tending to the sick.
Mahindra found himself in the line of crossfire as his tweet stated that these reusable, washable masks had the ability to "destroy viruses." These masks are being made by a company called Livinguard whose board member Ashok Kurien gifted this "anti-pollution" N95 mask to Mahindra.
🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 to my friend Ashok Kurien, who sent me the best gift for these times! Proud to learn that an Indian inventor's Swiss company has come out with these washable,reusable masks that destroy viruses. They're stepping up production in India. https://t.co/uZv23cAM7j pic.twitter.com/YFawmDhvcY— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) March 13, 2020
Mahindra received backlash as Twitter users requested him to not promote news which was not scientifically backed.
Mr. Mahindra No mask that we know of can "destroy the virus" as you have written in your post. Kindly correct this ASAP since you are a public personality. All masks only assist in personal protection from air borne infection.— M (@pseudo_sapiens) March 13, 2020
Mahindra's claim that masks kill viruses has no scientific backing. The primary role of masks is to not allow microbial particles to pass through the filter designed in the masks, according to the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention, United States of America
BOOM also looked up the mask gifted to Mahindra and found that it is a N95 mask made by Livinguard. The company makes masks for protection against air pollution and are useful for protecting against the polluting agents as they are made according to the size of the particles in the air.
The website clearly mentions that they work on bacteria and fungi thriving on filters but do not mention viruses.
In their medical textiles, the company makes scrubs and clothing but does not specifically mention masks.
What Does The WHO Say?
The World Health Organization has stated that healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if they are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. People coughing or sneezing should wear a mask. There is no proof that masks kill the virus.
WHO also further stated that wearing masks would only be effective if used along with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. The WHO also emphasized that people wearing masks should also know how to wear and dispose one.
COVID-19 is transmitted through the droplet mode of transmission which rest on surfaces. If an unhealthy person, not wearing a mask, sneezes or coughs in one's vicinity, the droplets could even settle on the mask of a person wearing one. If the person then touches the mask and later touches their face, there is a possibility of the virus spreading to the person.
Many media organizations have reported about how the prices of masks have escalated due to people buying many masks. Economic Times reported that people claimed surgical masks which usually sell for Rs 10 were being sold for Rs 40 or higher, and N95 masks which sell for around Rs 150 were being sold for up to Rs 500. People have also been hoarding masks and sanitisers.
The Government of India even added face masks and sanitizers to its list of essential items to control its burgeoning prices, as reported by PTI.
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