Although in Asiatic countries, face masks are common and proven to be effective in preventing airborne infections, people wearing a mouth-nose-coverage in western countries were rarely seen at the beginning of 2020.
When the first wave of the pandemic swept through Europe the president of the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) Lothar Wieler said at the end of February on the subject of masks in everyday life, „There is no evidence whatsoever that this is helpful in any way."
On March 11, our Minister for Health Jens Spahn said that surgical mouthguards or medical masks provide "only manageable protection, to put it that way."
These statements by the federal government and the RKI on the wearing of face masks were not driven by facts: The aim was to prevent a run on masks so that the scarce commodity stayed reserved for those who needed it most urgently, the medical staff.
At that time, it was known that face masks protect efficiently against aerosols contaminated with the Coronavirus. On March 22, a study appeared in the medical journal, The Lancet, stating, "Universal use of face masks should be considered.“ This was not communicated: we, the people of Germany, we're screwed!
It was perfectly clear that wearing an Alltagsmaske (everyday mask mostly homemade) could at least protect other people to a certain extend. Germany’s Fauci, Christian Drosten acknowledged this fact for the first time in his popular radio podcast on March 23, adding that FFP2 masks could even protect oneself from being infected by others.
Red Baron proudly wearing an Alltagsmaske on a streetcar on
This “elegant” everyday mask was produced by a Turkish tailor in my quarter.
Above: Medical or surgical mask
Below: FFP2 mask certified in the European Economic Area (CE)
There were nine months between the beginning of April when the RKI came around to recommending masks. This leads to the crucial question: How can it be that Germany has not managed to provide the population with the cheapest, demonstrably effective means of containing the pandemic in more than nine months? How many lives could have been saved by wearing masks?
There is always at least one governor marching to a different drummer. Bavarian’s Markus Söder declared an obligation for an FFP2 mask in all public places where people cannot observe a sufficient distance.
Here is a defeatist remark by the president of the RKI, “FFP2 masks are masks used for medical, occupational safety. They have high efficiency if they're worn correctly and if the people who wear them are well educated about how to wear them."