Which Mask Offers The Best Protection From COVID-19?

From KN95s to cloth masks, a mask expert and mechanical engineer talks through the different types of face coverings.
Posted at 11:51 AM, Jan 24, 2022

As COVID-19's Omicron variant continues to spread, a renewed push on masks has people seeking the best protection.

Mask expert and mechanical engineer Aaron Collins told Newsy KN95 masks are the safest bet when it comes to protection against the coronavirus, with N95 masks being very effective as well.

The distinction between the two is that a KN95, which is the Chinese standard for respiratory protection, has a headband that wraps around the back of the head, offering a tight seal, whereas an N95 has ear loops, making the mask slightly more loose. 

While both are great options, Collins warned against cloth masks, saying the protection is significantly less.

"The filtration efficiency in a cloth mask is very low," Collins said, explaining that cloth masks only offer 50% efficiency.

He suggested that those wanting a mask with ear loops should opt for other types of face coverings.

"If you can't tolerate headbands, going to an ear loop respirator like the KN95 or KF94 are much better options," said Collins.

For those looking for a KN95, the key in determining if one is real or counterfeit is in the labeling.

"It should say GB2626-2019, that's standard; it should say KN95; and it should say the manufacturer's name," Collins explained.