Could face masks build IMMUNITY to Covid-19? Scientists theorise

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The unproven theory was detailed by scientists from the University of California in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. It may partly explain why fewer people are dying from Covid.
The mass use of face masks and coverings may be acting as a type of crude 'vaccine' against coronavirus, scientists have claimed.

People are urged to wear masks to catch droplets from their breath and reduce the risk of them spreading the virus if they have it without knowing, not to protect themselves from catching it – although it may be able to do this to a small extent.

Masks, particularly the surgical and cloth ones worn by the bulk of the population, are not perfect and allow some viral particles to slip through into wearer's airways.

Experts say repeatedly exposing people to small amounts of Covid-19 in this way may train their bodies to recognise and fight it off, effectively immunising them.

The unproven theory was detailed by scientists from the University of California in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It is unlikely the hypothesis will be proven beyond doubt because that would require exposing people with and without masks to the virus in clinical trials, which would be unethical.

But the theory may partly explain why fewer people are dying or falling critical ill with the coronavirus in the later stages of the pandemic and in East Asia, where masks are common.

The scientists behind the commentary stressed that people should not get complacent or try to deliberately catch the virus to build immunity.

The mass-use of face masks may be acting as a de facto 'vaccine' against coronavirus, scientists have claimed (Pictured: Passengers wearing masks on the London Underground yesterday)

'This is not the recommendation at all,' they wrote, urging people to still keep socially distanced from others and avoid cramped indoor spaces with little ventilation.

The idea that masks may offer some immunity against Covid-19 hinges on the theory of variolation, a centuries-old immunisation technique.

Variolation is the practice of deliberately infecting people with low doses of a pathogen to generate a protective immune response…
By Connor Boyd Health Reporter For Mailonline
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