Amidst the second wave of coronavirus in India, a deluge of online misinformation is causing extra damage to the efforts towards combating the pandemic.
In a recent addition to such misinformation is a video in which an unidentified man apparently shows how masks are contaminated with germs and worms and warns people not to wear masks.
Fact Crescendo received many fact-check requests about this video on our WhatsApp Factline (9049053770).
After consulting with the experts, we found that claims made in the viral video are false and baseless.
WHAT’S THE CLAIM
In the viral video, a man puts a mask on the bowl of steaming water. Then he zooms in on the mask. In the close-up shot, some moving black threads are visible. Over these visuals, the man narrates, “These masks are contaminated with germs and micro worms. Once you put the mask on the steam, you will see them coming out of the small pores. Similarly, when you breathe in and out while wearing the mask, you inhale these germs and worms. It causes great harm to you and this is the reason why people with masks tend to fall sick more. Do not wear these masks from the market. This is nothing but the conspiracy of international companies to make a profit out of our health.” (Translated from Hindi)
As we began our investigation, we found that a similar video has been shared in different countries. We found similar YouTube videos with Russian language subtitles. In this video, a woman is seen making similar claims about germs and worms in the mask.
We can see that this Russian language video has been dubbed over with the Hindi language voice-over in India.
To understand the technicalities of the said experiment, we contacted Dr. Yasir Alvi of Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences & Research (HIMSR), New Delhi.
After watching the video, Dr. Alvi categorically denied the claims made in it.
“The black substance seen in the video is not any kind of germs or worms. These are most probably threads of fabric,” he said. “It can happened due to dust or if the mask comes in contact with unwashed or unsanitized hands. But it is wrong to say they are germs/worms.”
Germs are microscopic organisms, which cannot be seen through naked eyes. Even a mobile camera cannot capture the germs, he told Fact Crescendo.
A representative from World Health Organization clarified to us that the video claiming masks being infected with germs and worms is baseless.
“This is utterly false. Covid-19 spreads due to a virus, not any germs. The length of coronavirus is 50 to 140 nanometer. It is not even visible to a common microscope, let alone our human eyes.”
Speaking with AFP, Jana Nebesarova, assistant professor at the electron microscopy laboratory at the Biological Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences, said, “Most likely they are pieces of fabric. The air is full of these fabric fragments which float around freely together with pollen, mould, parts of dead cells from our skin, microscopic parts of earth etc.”
“In any event, they are not dangerous for a healthy person; this is stuff we breathe in every single day and our ciliated epithelium, which lines our respiratory system, knows how to deal with these alien microscopic particles very well,” she clarified further.
As this video surfaced on Kazakhstan’s social sphere, the country’s Committee of Sanitary and Epidemiological Control of the Ministry of Health refuted it and termed it false.
To check the veracity of the claims made in this video, we performed the same experiment on our own. We placed a surgical mask over boiling water. We did not see any germs or worms as claimed by the video. You can see our experiment below.
How to Choose Mask?
WHO has clear guidelines on what to look out for when you buy masks. WHO recommends that fabric masks should be made of three layers of fabric:
1. Inner layer of absorbent material, such as cotton.
2. Middle layer of non-woven non-absorbent material, such as polypropylene.
3. Outer layer of non-absorbent material, such as polyester or polyester blend.
If purchasing a fabric mask from a store, check to make sure it meets national performance standards. Check for filtration, breathability and fit when choosing a fabric mask.
With experts input, we can safely say that masks are safe to wear and there are no germs or worms put into masks by the manufacturers. The video does not show worms in the mask when put over steam. The black substance is just fabric threads.
Title:FALSE: Don’t Believe the Video Showing Germs Coming out of MasksFact Check By: Agastya Deokar