Pen Medina claims face masks are ineffective. He’s wrong.

August 30, 2021 - 9:55 AM
People wearing face masks as a protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), receive communion during an Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Peter Parish Shrine of Leaders, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, April 4, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Veteran actor Pen Medina still claimed that face masks are not effective in preventing COVID-19 infections despite being more than a year into the still raging pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic last March 2020, the World Health Organization and other health organizations have strongly recommended the use of face masks as among the minimum measures to prevent people from getting infected with the virus which causes COVID-19.

Governments in the world, including the Philippines, have then adopted this into public policy.

So far, there has been no change in these protocols even with the surge in variant cases in different countries.

RELATED: Detecting Delta: Symptoms associated with the COVID-19 variant

Medina, however, seemed to still carry a contrary view against face masks. He stated this in a radio interview, a video of which was shared online on August 26.

“Yung pong coronavirus, yung virus maliliit po. Kumbaga di parin ito na-identify. Kumbaga sa lineup ng police, hindi pa na-pinpoint kung sino ang criminal na virus. Itong virus na to para kang naghahanap sa buhangin sa isang beach na pagkarami-raming buhangin. At yung buhangin microscopic,” he said.

“Di mo siya makikita sa mata mo lang…Di pa po nila nakita yan. Tapos may sinasabi ng variant. At yan po lulusot po kahit anong mask dahil sobra-sobrang pagka liit liit,” he added.

A recap on the virus and face masks

According to the WHO, current evidence suggested that SARS-CoV-2 can be spread in different ways.

“The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols,” it said.

The organization had also confirmed this year that the virus can be transmitted through the air in poorly ventilated settings.

READ: ‘Public spaces not face shields’: Proposals for better indoor ventilation raised as studies claim COVID-19 is airborne

“The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 meter (long-range),” it said.

Due to these findings, the WHO maintained the observance of wearing face masks properly and physical distancing in different environments.

Recent studies recently showed that children should also wear face masks due to the Delta variant’s higher transmissibility among younger age groups.

READ: Masks, ventilation, vaccination: 3 ways to protect our kids against the Delta variant

Some experts even suggested double masking or wearing two different types of masks for filtration efficiency and breathability.

READ: Are two cloth masks better than one for preventing the spread of COVID-19?

Medical or surgical masks and some cloth masks are the common types allowed inside health facilities in the country.

How doctors reacted online

Members of the medical community on Twitter slammed Medina for spreading false information.

They voiced out how tired the health care workers are of the continuous rise of cases and deaths.

“My goodness COVID is real! Madami na pong namatay at pagod na pagod na kami sa kakalaban! Face mask, physical distancing and get vaccinated!” wrote Dr. Gia Sison.

“San kaya siya kumuha ng confidence para sabihing napag-aralan niya na hindi effective ang face mask, samantalang ilang taong nag-aral yung mga nagsasabing nakakatulong to?” internist Jai Cabajar said.

“San mo nakuha medical degree mo and subspecialty on Infectious Diseases, Virology, and Vaccinology? Ikaw ang dapat nag sit down,” another doctor with the name @MATom_MD said.

One user stated that the veteran actor should not be given media mileage for such beliefs.

“The media does not have to propagate opinions from random people because what we need now is expert opinion and what science says,” the user said.

GMA host Kiko Rustia, meanwhile, expressed his disappointment.

“Idol ko pa naman to sa teatro at TV (sad emoji),” Rustia said.