It’s taken some time, but it’s nice to keep being proven right years later. I made a prediction
based on the material and chemical characteristics of masks and Covid particles, masks would enhance the spread of Covid. It seems some researchers have unwittingly provided evidence that supports this hypothesis, albeit indirectly. Once you, dear reader, read the article cited below the obvious insight should dawn on you: masks are great incubators for Covid virus particles. Thus the longer they (the particles) stay active and infectious the more likely the effect I hypothesize will occur. In other words, the absolute worst thing you can do is mask someone with Covid, it’s only going to concentrate and then disperse that concentrated stream of particles from their saturated mask.
My tweet storm:
Researchers demonstrated that the humidity differential between the throat/mouth and the outside air upon exhalation of SARS-CoV-2 particles results in a reduction of infectiousness by 50% within seconds and by 90% within 20 minutes. It was also reported that the virus survives longer at lower pH, thus upon exhalation its survival time will be further negatively impacted. This is due to the fact that the rapid decrease in partial pressure of CO2 in any expelled aerosol results in a rapid increase in pH (CO2 drives pH downward, thus its removal drives pH upward.)
Where would we be more likely to find a humid environment with a higher than average level of CO2? Perhaps within the confines of a mask? Indeed, masks are the PERFECT incubation device for extending the useful life of externalized SARS-CoV-2 particles. As they build and build and build within the balmy CO2 rich environs they eventually reach a critical mass on the interior of any mask at which point, like a vacuum cleaner bag that can hold no more, they will start leaking through the other side in a constant steady stream of active virus. Now one might argue the mask has merely delayed the exhalation event and that emission from a mask is no different than from one’s mouth. However the critical difference is that the particles have been concentrated within the mask, so now each breath pushes out a much higher concentration than was originally emitted from ones mouth. This effect is augmented by the moral hazard of people believing they are protected while donning a mask so they will tend to stand closely together thinking they are “safe.”
You are much safer to stand together unmasked where (a) the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 particles is lower upon exhalation in comparison to a fully saturated mask and (b) any that do exit the non-masked mouth will rapidly decline in infectiousness.