Independent science team contradicts ministry’s face mask research

This is the third well-publicised Finnish study into the efficiency of face masks, and each has come out with different conclusions than the one before.

File picture of elderly person wearing face mask / Credit: iStock

A group of Finnish researchers have concluded that there’s some significant benefits in combating coronavirus if people wear masks.

The independent analysis by the Get Rid of Coronavirus group looked at the same data as a previous study commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in May which concluded there was ‘no strong evidence’ to support mandatory face masks orders.

The new research findings contradict the previous study and say those researchers came to the wrong conclusions based on the methodology they used.

“Our main result was that the masks clearly protect their users” says Hanna M. Ollila from the University of Helsinki, who led the research. The groups says the protective effect is large and statistically significant, and that masks which cover nose and mouth reduce the risks for wearers of catching coronavirus by a third.

The original studies which the ministry’s experts considered found that people often found masks uncomfortable or made it difficult to breathe. However the longer the subjects wore the masks, the fewer discomfort factor occurred the new study finds.

“No serious adverse events related to mask use were reported. The results show that you can get used to using the mask, although there may be subjective discomfort associated with that” says Liisa T. Laine, a doctoral researcher in health economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

The idea of making it compulsory to wear masks in certain situations has raised concerns that other safety measures such as good hand hygiene, might slip. However the new research data indicates this would not happen.

Another Finnish study from early June, produced by a government-convened panel of experts, and separate from the earlier ministry study, recommended wearing face masks on public transport.

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