Doc Adam is back, and after debunking dozens of health fads (we’re still seething over the damage done by Cabbage Woman), he has now come after the biggest craze of the coronavirus era: copper masks.
In the 9-minute video titled “Sobrang MALI sila sa COPPER MASK?” posted last Thursday, the Australia-based doctor broke down the mask’s advertised efficacy from a medical practitioner’s perspective. Perhaps we could boil down his sentiment over copper masks in just one quote of his: “biro ba ito?”
The video starts off with vignettes and photos of celebrities endorsing the popular mask such as Raffy Tulfo, Ivana Alawi, Vicki Belo, Jane De Leon, and Piolo Pascual, which makes Doc Adam rub his temple out of frustration. So why exactly is Doc Adam disinclined towards copper masks?
First, the utter lack of the mask’s presence anywhere else in the world. Doc Adam shared that he’s only seen the mask worn by Filipino celebrities wearing it. When he looked it up, he also found out that copper masks weren’t included in Australia’s comprehensive guidelines for face masks.
“Kung sakaling may isang mask na talagang epektibo para maiwasan ang COVID, ipapaalam nila ‘yan sa mga frontline workers katulad ko, so I could educate my patients and help avoid COVID,” he explained.
Second, he also doubts that these masks are made of 100% copper. While he agrees that the mask becomes more effective with more copper incorporated into it, he also reminded viewers that scientific literature supporting the increased efficacy of copper masks is very limited.
Quoting Richard Martinello, an infectious diseases professor at Yale School of Medicine, Doc Adam shares that, since the amount of copper in these masks are not regimented across production, then “there is no standard for ensuring a face mask actually includes copper to any level of effectiveness.”
Doc Adam also shared that, according to Williams Schafner, medical director of the US National Foundation for Infectious Disease, “the idea that copper masks were better at protecting against viruses than regular masks was ‘dubious’.”
Lastly – and this is the most glaring one – the presence of a gaping hole at the bottom part of the mask.
“Bakit gusto ninyo gumawa ng isang mask na may butas?! Hindi ko gets,” the doctor said with a chuckle.
It doesn’t matter that the hole isn’t directly over the mouth too. According to Doc Adam, even if it doesn’t give way to the “direct immersion of fluid” from the wearer’s mouth, it’s still a hole through which the wearer’s unfiltered breath can still pass, or the wearer’s unsanitized fingers can touch.
He also reiterated the recommendation by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Philippine College of Physicians to refrain from using masks with vents or exhalation valves, which the hole might be for.
Buto, Doc Adam’s trusty sidekick, also presented an accurate metaphor: “Katulad ng isang condom ang ang butas. Mabubuntis pa rin ang babae even if you’ve got the condom on, ‘di ba?” Honestly, the skeleton mascot makes sense.
His final verdict? Copper masks are stylish, sure, but they aren’t any better than your run-off-the-mill surgical masks. They might not look fashionable, but they are still the public’s best bets for protection and the kind that he, as a doctor, would recommend.
He also encouraged celebrities to be more critical about what they promote the public to use, as the risk might be more prevalent during a pandemic.
Also, to the people who are only buying into the hype because celebrities are endorsing it, Doc Adam has a suggestion: “maybe just use your common sense.”