NEWS RELEASE                                                                                    July 2021

The Merits of Indoor Mask Wearing

The chances of dying from COVID over the last year were 0.17%.  Your chances of dying in a car accident were 1/20 of that number or 0.008%.

We could avoid riding in cars but the quality of life benefits outweigh the risks. With a risk level of COVID continuing throughout your life you statistically will lose 14 years of life. In contrast avoiding automobile travel would only add 6 months to your statistical life. In principle people  could choose solitary confinement and a rigid health regime and live to be 100. But no one would choose this option compared to living to 80 and enjoying life.

Before the Delta variant became dominant and while we thought we could achieve the 70-80% totally vaccinated rate the expectation was that we would reduce the risks to less than 6 months of life reduction.

We now have to assess the situation in light of the variant and half the population not being vaccinated. There is one risk for vaccinated people and one for unvaccinated. For the unvaccinated the potency of the Delta variant offsets the benefits of the 50% vaccination rate. 

This means that in an indoor setting the unvaccinated will continue to face a statistical life reduction of 14 years. The vaccinated person has 90% protection so without masks he still faces a risk of 1.4 year life reduction.

Another way to look at this is by living a normal life rather than one in solitary you lose 20 years. Another 1.4 years is not an enormous amount. However, the 20 year sacrifice covers all the good food, social activity, and benefits of modern living.

It would be a small comparative reduction in life quality to wear a highly efficient mask in public indoor settings. This would add another 90% in protection and reduce the risk to 0.14 years.


Normal pleasures reduce life expectancy from 100 to 80. But this added risk for the unvaccinated  reduces expectancy to 66 years. On the other hand if you are vaccinated and wear a mask indoors and in public spaces you only reduce life expectancy by two months.

This is a minimal risk and should not impact  normal business and social activity for those who take the precautions.  For the unvaccinated it will be important to mandate masks which would also bring down risks to the 1.4 year loss level.

This comparison has been based on a whole life led at a given risk level. So the 20 years of normal life lost is an accumulation of thousands of desserts, years of driving, and many other hours of enjoyment.


If one focuses instead on whether to attend a single event such as a wedding or parade a different picture is created. The risk could be 800 times greater than that of a normal day. Some events are worth the high risk. Millions of soldiers have died with this belief. Astronauts willingly take high risks.

A complicating factor is risk to others. Small children cannot be vaccinated and are at risk if adults are not vaccinated. 

The risks of COVID are continually assessed in Coronavirus Technology Solutions. It covers the impact of masks and air filters

Custom consulting is also available.  Bob McIlvaine can answer your questions at 847 226 2391.