A new study published in the Biophysical Journal has found that the humidity due to mask may help in the prevention of infection from COVID. The higher level of humidity in inhaled air is the explanation why the people wearing masks are less exposed to the COVID virus. The hydration of the respiratory tract provides a defense mechanism benefit to the immune system.
"We found that face masks strongly increase the humidity in the inhaled air and propose that the resulting hydration of the respiratory tract could be responsible for the documented finding that links lower COVID-19 disease severity to wearing a mask. High levels of humidity have been shown to mitigate the severity of the flu, and it may be applicable to the severity of COVID-19 through a similar mechanism," said the study's lead author, AdriaanBax from the US NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
According to scientists, a high level of humidity can reduce the spread of the virus to the lungs by promoting mucociliary clearance (MCC) — a defense mechanism that removes mucus and potentially harmful particles within the mucus from the lungs. High humidity also boosts the immune system by producing special proteins called interferons that fight against viruses, while low levels have been shown to impair both MCC and the interferon response. According to the researchers, this may be one reason why people are more likely to get respiratory infections in cold weather.