Health experts disagree proposal to take out face shield mandate

Published June 4, 2021, 10:27 AM

by Noel Pabalate

The statement of Manila mayor Isko Moreno against the mandatory wearing of face shields in public places created a buzz on social media recently. He is requesting that the government to restudy the policy and possibly revise it.

According to Mayor Isko, if there’s no scientific proof about the face shield effectivity, it’s not necessary for people, especially those who have financial difficulties, to spend money on them. His argument got divided reactions and opinions.


Dr. Tony Leachon, a former inter-agency Covid-19 task force adviser disagrees with the mayor’s proposal. In his daily Facebook live video dubbed “Covidserye,” he mentioned that The Lancet, a medical journal, has provided a study on its effectiveness. “In fact, a face shield has higher protection than a face mask because it covers the eyes, nose and mouth,” he explained.

“Yes, the Mayor is correct in saying that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) doesn’t require a face shield, but they also don’t prohibit it.” he continued. “If we still have concern in terms of the control of the Covid-19 cases, it’s better to over protect rather than to under protect.”

Later on, the health reform advocate posted a supporting material based on scientific study that indicates the estimated effect of preventive intervention of face shield.

Dr. Leachon is firm in his stand that it’s hard to become lax, especially now that we still have a high number of cases and that most of us are not yet vaccinated. In his latest video, he assures that it’s more expensive to be hospitalized versus buying a face shield. He further justifies its importance and proper use by citing CDC’s “Guidance for Wearing Masks.”

Retaining the mandatory use of face shields in public places is also the position of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle columnist Dr. Edsel Salvana. “Our cases are plateauing in NCR and can easily go up again. Variants are here which are more transmissible. This is NOT the time to relax protection in any way. Once more people are vaccinated, we can think about drawing down measures BUT NOT NOW,” he wrote on his Facebook post.

According to Dr. Edsel, the decision on adding face shield over face mask as protection is grounded in solid science. He also said that there is evidence of its effectiveness in a research study in India published last year. He also explained that “eye protection decreases Covid-19 risk by 78 percent, and in combination with physical distancing and masks can decrease risk by more than 90 percent. Masks + Shield + Physical Distance + Good Ventilation is part of the ‘Swiss Cheese’ model which states that multiple layers of protection serve to further decrease the risk when imperfect interventions are used together.”

“I know everyone is getting tired of all of this but the goal is in sight. We just have to keep at it and we will soon regain our freedom. Further missteps will just prolong the pandemic,” said Dr. Edsel.

And now that the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have recognized that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is airborne, some health experts also recommend taking airborne precautions seriously. These include getting and properly using a face shield that provides full face protection.