That’s according to new research published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
A popular hoax claims that men will wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus
The fake theory takes a cue from German dictator Adolf Hitler, who was a keen sportsman, and used his penchant for wearing sunglasses during a match to dispel any fears that he was blind and therefore unfit to be king.
It has now emerged that despite other infections reaching out of the ordinary, including rabies and plague, there is still no evidence to support the claim that humans are at risk from the relatively new coronavirus.
The viral coronavirus causes respiratory illnesses and is largely fatal. One of the most recent cases was in Saudi Arabia, where an elderly man came down with the virus.
Most of the people affected by the virus, including an unborn baby and several adults, have died, with 99% of these patients succumbing.
Scientists have since developed a vaccine. However, they are working to develop a serotype to protect against other coronaviruses.
The acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, which affected more than 8,000 people worldwide in 2003, has sparked concerns over the potential spread of the new coronavirus.
In 2001, H1N1 swine flu swept the world in a pandemic that killed hundreds and woke up many to the need for improved vaccination programs.
This latest scare has led to renewed interest in the avian flu pandemic, which in 2003 struck down at least 246 people.
While these two outbreaks lead us to believe that the avian flu poses a real threat, they pale in comparison to the human coronavirus threat.
And this is where the economic model comes in to play.
That’s because the emergence of a new infection is usually an economic win for businesses. With the World Health Organization concerned about a new strain of the coronavirus, the potential of sales resulting from masks and other products could be worth almost $1 billion in 2018.
An investor will bet billions of dollars on an emerging threat by launching a business to protect against it.
So why is there no hard evidence to support this alarming theory?
A lack of data
According to Robert J. Glatter, a board-certified emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, it is hard to say whether the reaction to the ‘mask theory’ actually supports people being more vigilant.
“Some studies have shown that consumers are more concerned about the vaccine being effective, but whether that is something driving this then we don’t know,” Glatter told Fox Business News.
Glatter also pointed out that researchers don’t actually have very much data on which to test the ‘mask theory’.
“There’s a lack of data on how often people wear masks,” Glatter added. “We can’t really show that they’re more likely to use masks.”
It is true that the masks most commonly recommended are commercially-made disposable masks, and it is also true that some of them do contain an anti-asthma ingredient.
However, despite the speculation around the use of more expensive masks, it is only the anti-asthma agent the products contain.
Could this be another fake scare?
The mask theory has been reported by news outlets, but little else has been found to back it up.
At the same time, the threat posed by the mosquito-borne Zika virus is being criticised as a development that has made a profit for pharmaceutical companies.
While researchers continue to probe and find more evidence to support the mask theory, one thing is for sure: the new coronavirus threat may end up being nothing more than a hoax.