Double-masking: Are two masks better than one?


At the recent inauguration of American President Joe Biden, many attendees were seen to be wearing more than one mask at a time. This has raised questions as to whether double-masking is more effective. 

In a New York Times article, Tara Parker-Pope writes that double-masking is effective in lowering your risk of contracting the virus, especially when you are required to spend a long time in certain space such as using public transport or during flights.

“One big advantage of double-masking that I’ve found is that it creates a better fit and closes the gaps around the edge of your mask,” the article reads.

Parker-Pope says that it is crucial to assess the quality of your mask as the new variants are found to pose even bigger risks to the people around those who have been infected.

On double-masking the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in America, Dr Anthony Fauci says, “It likely does because this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in. So, if you have a physical covering with one layer and you put another layer on it, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective and that’s the reason why you see people either double-masking or doing a version of an N95 [mask].”

While no official directions have been given on which masks should be layered, most people have been seen layering a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask.

Not wearing a mask in South Africa is now a criminal offence – is it just a matter of time before we would be required to double mask, or maybe even triple mask?