Researchers come up with ‘coronavirus calculator’ to show effects of not wearing face masks

Using a simple questionnaire, the tool calculates the mask’s effectiveness, expressed as a percentage. Grzegorz Momot/PAP

Polish researchers have developed a system that calculates how the decision to wear a mask can influence the number of coronavirus infections.

The ‘coronavirus calculator’ from Joanna Michałowska at the Poznań University of Medical Sciences and Dominik Czernia at the Henryk Niewodniczański Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kraków, consists of a simple questionnaire.

According to the calculator: “If 50 percent of the population wore masks, R₀ would drop to 0.9. To halt the epidemic, R₀ would need to be less than 1”.Kalbar/TFN

Users are asked whether they wear a mask and about the material that it is made of, with options including cotton, linen and surgical masks.

Based on this, the tool calculates the mask’s effectiveness, expressed as a percentage.

If there are no restrictions, such as masks, Ro for COVID-19 is 2.5. This means that every person with the virus infects from 2 to 4 people, on average.Ayelt van Veen on unsplash

The choice of mask affects the Ro coefficient, which refers to the expected number of cases directly generated by a single case of the virus in a given population.

If there are no restrictions, such as masks, Ro for COVID-19 is 2.5. This means that every person with the virus infects from 2 to 4 people, on average.

As stated under the calculator: “If 50 percent of the population wore masks, R₀ would drop to 0.9. To halt the epidemic, R₀ would need to be less than 1”.

The system calculates how the decision to wear a mask can influence the number of coronavirus infections.Kalbar/TFN

Joanna Michałowska said: “It shows how important it is to wear masks and that the individual choices and actions of each of us have a real impact on the spread of the virus.”

Their tool is available for free on the website omnicalculator.com, which was created by a Kraków-based start-up and offers over 1400 different calculators spanning a range of subjects.

The website also includes an explainer on masks’ effectiveness, the type of masks available and how to make one yourself.