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Cone-style well fitting masks and home-made coverings made from multiple fabric layers are the best designs for stopping the spread of coronavirus, study shows.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University examined different materials and designs to find the best option for slowing the spread of virus carrying droplets.

These droplets are expelled when someone with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes and tests show loosely-folded masks and bandana-style coverings perform the worst.

According to researchers this is because those designs provide minimal stopping-capability for respiratory droplets which can spread up to 8ft if unobstructed. 

They found a simple bandana-style mask can stop droplets going more than 3ft but a homemade well-fitting cotton-fabric stitched mask stops droplets at 2.5 inches. 

The smallest respiratory droplets leak through a face mask constructed using a folded handkerchief in a bandana-style - spreading up to three feet from the wearer

With the stitched quilted cotton mask, droplets traveled 2.5 inches, considerably less than the 3ft of a bandana mask

The pathogen responsible for COVID-19 is mainly found in respiratory droplets expelled by infected individuals during coughing, sneezing, or even talking and breathing, the Florida team explained.

This explains governments' rationale for recommending face coverings - to reduce the risk of cross-infection from infected to healthy individuals.


Without a mask droplets from a cough could go up to eight feet from the person coughing.

It gets worse for a sneeze when the virus infected droplets could reach 12 feet in just 50 seconds. 

However this is significantly reduced with the addition of a mask.

  • With a bandana-style covering, they traveled three feet seven inches
  • With a folded cotton handkerchief, they traveled 1 foot, 3 inches
  • Cough droplets travelled just 2.5 inches when covered by a stitched quilted cotton mask
  • With the cone-style mask, droplets traveled about eight inches


On June 15 the UK government made face coverings compulsory on public transport in England - other countries have gone further, requiring them when out in public.

Despite this, the authorities have not yet announced guidelines on the best varieties of mask to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Study lead researcher, Dr Stella Batalama, at Florida Atlantic University said they wanted to discover the best options for reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

'Our researchers have demonstrated how masks are able to significantly curtail the speed and range of the respiratory droplets and jets,' said Batalama.

'Moreover, they have uncovered how emulated coughs can travel noticeably farther than the currently recommended distancing guideline.'

The research team used a technique called 'flow visualisation' in a laboratory setting in which they used a mixture of distilled water and glycerin to generate a synthetic fog to mimic cough droplets.

They used a mannequin to simulate coughing and sneezing, before visualising droplets expelled from its mouth.

They tested a range of masks that are readily available to the general public, and which do not deplete medical-grade masks and breathing devices that are vital to healthcare workers.

This included a single-layer bandana-style covering, a homemade mask stitched using two layers of cotton quilting fabric and a non-sterile cone masks.

By placing these various masks on the mannequin, they were able to map out the paths of droplets and demonstrate how differently they perform.

Results showed that loosely folded face masks and bandana-style coverings provide minimal stopping-capability for the smallest respiratory droplets.

Whereas well-fitted homemade masks with multiple layers of quilting fabric, and off-the-shelf cone style masks, proved to be the most effective.

They were able to 'significantly' curtail the speed and range of the respiratory jets, albeit with some leakage through the mask itself and from small gaps on the edges.

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Without a mask, droplets traveled more than eight feet, with a bandana, they traveled three feet seven inches, and with a folded cotton handkerchief, they traveled 1 foot, 3 inches.

Cough droplets travelled just 2.5 inches when covered by a stitched quilted cotton mask, and with the cone-style mask, droplets traveled about eight inches.

Study leader Dr Siddhartha Verma, an assistant professor at FAU, said they wanted to convey to the public the important of social distancing and face masks.  

'Promoting widespread awareness of effective preventive measures is crucial at this time as we are observing significant spikes in cases of COVID-19 infections in many states, especially Florida,' he said.

Importantly, uncovered simulated coughs were able to travel noticeably further than current distancing guidelines - between three and six feet.

When the mannequin was not fitted with a mask, they projected droplets up to 12 feet within approximately 50 seconds with droplets suspended in the air for up to three minutes.

The researchers said their observations suggest that current social-distancing guidelines may need to be increased rather than reduced.

With a folded cotton handkerchief, droplets traveled 1 foot, 3 inches, according to the team

In the UK Boris Johnson announced a new 1 metre plus rule, where two metres (or 6ft) was still required but could be dropped with the addition of protective equipment such as face masks and protective screens. 

Study author Professor Manhar Dhanak said: 'We found that although the unobstructed turbulent jets were observed to travel up to 12 feet, a large majority of the ejected droplets fell to the ground by this point.

'Importantly, both the number and concentration of the droplets will decrease with increasing distance, which is the fundamental rationale behind social-distancing.'

Apart from COVID-19, respiratory droplets also are the primary means of transmission for various other viral and bacterial illnesses.

With the cone-style mask, droplets traveled about 8 inches - the second best performing mask

This includes conditions such as the common cold, influenza, tuberculosis, SARS and MERS, according to the Florida researchers.

These pathogens are carried by respiratory droplets, which may land on healthy individuals and result in direct transmission.

When the pathogens land on objects they can lead to infection when a healthy individual comes in contact with them.

Dr Batalama, from FAU's College of Engineering and Computer Science, said that the study findings evidence the need for key workers to set up simple experiments to test the quality of their PPE.

She added: 'Their research outlines the procedure for setting up simple visualisation experiments using easily available materials, which may help healthcare professionals, medical researchers, and manufacturers in assessing the effectiveness of face masks and other personal protective equipment qualitatively.'

The findings have been published in the journal Physics of Fluids.


Disturbing pictures showing the importance of a face mask in delaying the spread of coronavirus have been shared on social media.

Dr Richard Davis, a clinical microbiologist, shared the grim images as a way of proving how vital masks were when you couldn't socially distance.

He sneezed, coughed, talked and sang into agar cultures held near his face - these are jelly like substances from red algae in a petri dish.

The goal was to see how droplets of bacteria spread in the cultures from different types of expulsion from the human mouth and at different distances.  

Disturbing pictures showing the importance of a face mask in delaying the spread of coronavirus have been shared on social media

'First, I sneezed, sang, talked & coughed toward an agar culture plate with or without a mask,' he said, adding he then had to wait for the bacteria to grow.

When the bacteria colonies formed they began to show where droplets landed - a mask blocks virtually all of them, he said. 

The UK currently advises people to remain six feet apart when out in public, but this is relaxed to three feet plus from July 4 - focusing on the need for protective equipment if you can't properly socially distance. 

He then set about demonstrating the importance of social distancing.

For the second demo he set open bacteria culture plates 2, 4 and 6 feet away and coughed (hard) for about 15s and repeated it without a mask. 

When the bacteria colonies formed they began to show where droplets landed - a mask blocks virtually all of them, he said.

'Droplets mostly landed under 6 ft away, but a mask blocked nearly all of them,' said Davis.

He said this isn't typically how you model the spread of the coronavirus but is a way to show the effectiveness of facial coverings in slowing the spread. 

Colonies of normal bacteria from his mouth and throat showed the spread of large respiratory droplets, like the kind scientists think mostly spread COVID-19, and 'how a mask can block them,' Davis said.

'Masks as a political/social litmus test or used to shame those who won't (or disabled folks who truly can't!) wear them is a travesty,' he tweeted.

'We wash hands after using the bathroom & wipe noses on tissues. Masks/face shields need to be just another normalized act of hygiene.'

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Kim Kardashian is a rare pro-vaccine celebrity, but her husband Kanye West is running an anti-vaxx presidential campaign

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  • Kanye West recently announced he's running for president on an anti-vaccine and pro-life campaign.
  • West incorrectly asserted that vaccines can paralyze children in a February interview with Forbes.
  • However, his wife Kim Kardashian-West took her entire family, including their daughter North West, to get vaccinated on an episode of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." She's one of the only celebrities to publicly champion vaccines.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Kim Kardashian-West is one of the only celebrities to publicly demonstrate her pro-vaccine stance, despite her husband Kanye West's anti-vaxx opinions.

West recently announced he was running for president on an anti-vaccine and pro-life platform, and told Forbes in February that he is skeptical of vaccines, including a not-yet-existing vaccine to treat COVID-19.

"It's so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed… So when they say the way we're going to fix COVID is with a vaccine, I'm extremely cautious," West, 43, told Forbes. He also said that he had COVID-19 and took hot showers and watched instructional videos to treat himself.

There's no scientific evidence to back up West's claims, as Insider's Connor Perrett previously reported.

What's more, West's stance differs greatly from his wife's, who has long been held up as one of the few celebrities to openly champion vaccines by taking their first child, North West, and the rest of her family, to get a vaccine in an episode of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."

Kardashian-West publicly required her entire family get the whooping cough vaccine

In October 2o13, KUWTK producers filmed as Kardashian-West and her family got Tdap vaccines, which are used to protect against whooping cough. 

In 2014, there was a whooping cough epidemic in California where the Kardashians live.

Whopping cough or pertussis is a respiratory illness that's extremely contagious because it spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the CDC. If a baby gets whooping cough it can be deadly, so having any family members or friends who may be around a baby get the vaccine can protect the little one.

Kardashian-West appeared to take this stance.

At one point in the episode, one of Kardashian-West's sisters said she was unsure if she want the vaccine, and the doctor said if she refused she couldn't be around baby North, as per the mother's request. The sister then got the vaccine alone with the rest of the family.

It's unclear whether West has received any vaccines himself, or if he's an exception to his wife's rule.

But Kardashian-West remains one of a handful of celebrities who have demonstrated their pro-vaccine stances. Actress Kristin Bell has also said that she wouldn't let loved ones be around her child if they weren't vaccinated, and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar has also been vocally pro-vaccine.

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