March 23, 2020

Coronavirus: Unmasking the Facts and Ibuprofen Scares

by Science Vs

Background show artwork for Science Vs

Healthcare workers across the U.S. are saying they don’t have enough protective gear to keep them safe against the coronavirus. They’re having to reuse masks, and they’re worried that they may have to resort to homemade cloth masks. Is all this safe? Plus, reports are saying that ibuprofen, the stuff in Advil, is making people with coronavirus sicker. But what does the science say? To find out we spoke to infectious disease expert Professor Raina MacIntyre, industrial hygienist Dr. Rachael Jones, public health researcher Professor Carlos Del Rio, and cardiologist Dr. Yogendra Kanthi. 

UPDATE 4/23/20: An earlier version of this episode said that health care workers using N95 masks had roughly half the infection rate of workers using classic surgical masks. We’ve updated the episode to clarify that the study only compared the infection rates to a control group, not each other.

Here’s a link to our transcript:

Selected References


This episode was produced by Meryl Horn, Wendy Zukerman, Rose Rimler, Michelle Dang, Laura Morris and Sinduja Srinivasan. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell and Caitlin Kenney. Fact checking by Lexi Krupp. Mix and sound design by Catherine Anderson. Music written by Peter Leonard, Emma Munger, and Bobby Lord. A big thanks to all the researchers and healthcare workers that we got in touch with for this episode, including Professor Paul Little, Dr Kirsty Short, Siyab Panhwar, and Ayman Saeyeldin. And special thanks to Meg Driscoll, the Zukerman family and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.