Mask or no mask — the debate is still on despite many national and international healthcare organizations vouching for it and encouraging people to wear them to reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission. One such deniers, Sweden's top epidemiologist, has gone ahead to claim that it's "very dangerous", indeed.
The chief epidemiologist at Sweden's Public Health Agency, Anders Tegnell, has claimed that it is very dangerous to believe that face masks would "change the game" in terms of novel Coronavirus.
Tegnell told Financial Times that the face masks can be a complement to other things "when other things are safely in place. But to start with having face masks and then think you can crowd your buses or your shopping malls—that's definitely a mistake."
Wearing Mask Is Useless?
Sweden's top epidemiologist Tegnell is also known as the architect behind the no-lockdown strategy in the country, where the health officials reported over 85,800 COVID-19 cases as of Friday, August 21. He backed his recent comments on wearing masks by pointing out countries such as Spain and Belgium where the authorities recommended masks, but still noticed a high number of Coronavirus cases.
Earlier too Tegnell, without citing any data, claimed that 30 percent of population in Sweden could have been immune from the novel Coronavirus. His refusal to recommend masks has come when Sweden's neighboring countries Denmark, Finland, and Norway have already asked people to wear face coverings to curb the Coronavirus.
The Danish Health Authority said, "It is advantageous to use a face mask when using public transport at times when it is difficult to keep a distance from other passengers." Norway health minister Bent Hoie told media that wearing masks will not be mandatory, but the ministry recommends face masks as an extra precaution when it is difficult to follow social distancing, maintaining one meter or more distance, on public transportation.
It Helps to Prevent Coronavirus Transmission
Despite Tegnell's thoughts about using face masks, many researchers have noted that wearing masks do prevent Coronavirus transmission. As per a study which involved people with influenza or common cold, found that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduced the amount of respiratory viruses emitted in droplets and aerosols.
Jonas Ludvigsson, a Karolinska Institute professor of clinical epidemiology told the Financial Times that one of the reasons Sweden has not accepted the idea of wearing masks was that most of the people have faith in what the authority has recommended, while in other countries people might ignore advice and wear face masks anyway. He also said that when the Swedish health agency says that there is no need to wear masks, they trust the authority and don't wear masks.
Sweden's public health agency said on Tuesday, August 18 that it was looking at proposals for the government going forward. The authorities also added that the health agency could also consider recommending face mask use in specific circumstances, like while going to hospitals or dental clinics.