It has been thought that mask wearing mainly benefits the people around you. However, scientists are beginning to speculate that masks may also help the wearer.
Mask wearing may be one reason we have seen so many cases of mild and asymptomatic illness.
It goes back to the idea that the size of the inoculum (the dose of the virus) determines how sick an individual will get. Usually, with viruses, the higher the dose, the sooner symptoms develop and the more severe the illness is.
If a lesser quantity of respiratory droplets make it through to the mask wearer, this means they receive a lower dose of the virus. A lower dose means that, even if the person becomes ill, it may not be as severe a case.
The bottom line is that not only does mask wearing protect those around us, it may also protect us. A lower viral dose is known to be linked to less severe illness. Masks may reduce the dose, leading to milder, or no symptoms, if we do contract COVID-19.
Moreover, universal mask wearing can slow transmission and may possibly reduce the severity of illness, easing the burden on society.
Experts say if 95% of people wore a face mask, it could save nearly 130,000 lives in the next three months. Even if only 85% wore a mask, nearly 96,000 deaths could be prevented. They add that mask wearing could help businesses stay open as COVID-19 cases are reduced.