COVID-19: Professionals question the benefits of face masks

COVID-19: Professionals question the benefits of face masks

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COVID-19: Experts on the effectiveness of measures against the corona pandemic

Since the end of April, all people in Germany have had to wear mouth and nose protection (MNS) in public transport and when shopping. The majority of the population supports the so-called mask requirement. However, according to experts, the benefits of MNS have so far not been proven. Other measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus are rated more positively.

"Wearing mouth-nose covers can help to further reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, among other measures based on current knowledge - even if there are no symptoms," explains the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) on its portal "". However, experts estimate that the use of such masks cannot be proven.

First results of an interim evaluation published

How do experts in the fields of virology, microbiology, hygiene, tropical medicine, immunology and internal medicine / intensive medicine assess the current risk situation and the measures taken regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic? How safe or resilient is the current level of knowledge?

Scientists at the University Clinics in Tübingen and Hamburg-Eppendorf are trying to find out in a survey.

The first results of an interim evaluation have now been published in a communication.

Maintaining the distance rules is advocated
The interim results of the survey show that the doctors and scientists surveyed support the maintenance of the distance rules and the ban on major events.

According to the information, the feedback from 178 subjects was evaluated during the survey and also compared with the results of an initial survey with 197 people.

Through an anonymous online survey, experts from the fields of virology, microbiology, hygiene, tropical medicine, immunology, internal medicine and intensive medicine took part with completed vocational training. According to the communication, the results are to be assessed as an opinion at the current time in Germany.

The team, led by Professor Michael Schindler (Virology, Tübingen) and Professor Steffen Moritz (Psychiatry, Hamburg), was surveyed with the support of the Society for Virology (GfV), the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM) and the German Society for Internal medicine (DGIM).

Daycare and school closures are not an important measure for most

The current survey shows that over 70 percent of those questioned support and even favor the two meter distance rule and the ban on large events as a potential measure to control and contain SARS-CoV-2.

On the other hand, only a relatively small number of daycare centers and school closures are considered to be an important measure (less than five percent).

The results regarding the usefulness of mouth-nose coverage (MNB) are very ambivalent: Although often mentioned as a measure (the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) also suggests that wearing a mouth-nose coverage in public life helps can slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the population and protect risk groups from infections), they are rarely prioritized as important in the survey.

Hardly any experts are aware of hard scientific evidence for the protective effect of masks, whether professional mouth-nose protection or self-made ("everyday") breathing masks.

In contrast, more than 70 percent see risks from mistakes in handling the masks.

“In this context, we were surprised by the discrepant attitude towards breathing masks. Although no or contradictory evidence of their protective effect is known, a large part support wearing e.g. B. in public transport, "Schindler comments and adds:" Even scientists are only human and seem to trust their gut feeling on some issues. "

The role of the media is classified as critical

Approval of the measures taken by the federal government has declined and is currently only 50.1 percent advocated - in an initial survey in March this was 80.7 percent.

The statement that restoring public and economic life, but mostly using breathing masks in everyday life, is in favor of 62.9 percent; in the first survey, this figure was 16.8 percent.

The role of the media is increasingly viewed critically and only 59 percent perceive it as factual (first survey 79.7 percent). The experts miss balanced reporting (82.6 percent) - too often the same questions are asked.

Assessment of the course and severity of the disease

In addition, according to the statement by 62.9 percent, there is no constructive specialist discussion with different positions of the experts. One in ten respondents also complained about a very restrictive information policy at some universities, and even a third of all experts see freedom of expression in science as threatened.

“In our view, this is a questionable result. If a third of your colleagues consider your freedom of expression to be threatened, we should fundamentally question our culture of discussion, ”says Professor Schindler.

The experts' assessment of the course and severity of the disease has changed little or not at all. On average, they assume that up to 50 percent of the population is infected with the corona virus.

The need for intensive medical treatment is seen in around five percent with a mortality rate of one percent. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • University Hospital Tübingen: Expert assessments on Covid-19, (accessed: May 9, 2020), University Hospital Tübingen
  • Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA): WORTH KNOWING AND INFORMATION ON Wearing Mouth-Nose Coverings, (accessed: 09.05.2020),
  • Robert Koch Institute (RKI): Does it make sense to wear a mouth and nose cover in public to protect against SARS-CoV-2 ?, (accessed: May 9, 2020), Robert Koch Institute (RKI)