face masks
Mario Molina (Photo: Reuters)

Scientists deal in certainties. Mario Molina, the only Mexican winner of a Nobel Prize for Chemistry, used his final days to promote science, in this case, the use of face masks to prevent further contagion due to Covid-19.

In one of his final publications, Molina said that the virus could be transmitted through the air. He and his colleagues encouraged people to use face masks. They demonstrated their effectiveness at reducing virus propagation in large cities.

“Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the pandemic trends in the three epicenters. This protective measure alone significantly reduced the number of infections,” says the article published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

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Science against Covid-19

In the article published in May, Molina and his colleagues from Texas and California universities emphasized this trend in mitigating contagion. They used the cases of New York and Italy.

According to the text, the use of face masks between April 6 and May 9 reduced cases “by over 78,000 in Italy”. In New York City, more than 66,000 infections were prevented between April 17 and May 9.

Molina and the article’s coauthors said that lockdown and quarantine “are insufficient in protecting the public”.

If people go out and attempt to maintain essential activities, “the wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission,” says the article in its conclusion.

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In August, Molina had another of his articles published in Science of the Total Environment, in which he describes some steps taken in the United States and their effectiveness.

“For seven states with mandated face covering, deviation from the linearity and curve flattening appear after the onset of mandated face covering,” says the article.

His work as a scientist didn’t end with only Covid-19. In his final months, he was a tireless promoter of the use of clean energies. He encouraged studies on climate change through the Mario Molina Center. Sustainable development and preserving the ozone layer were other topics he championed.

He was a chemist and an expert on the damage done by certain industrial gases to the ozone layer. Molina dedicated his final months to emphasizing the importance of renewable energy sources.


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