“I found it much more lightweight than any other mask I had tried…Once it was on, I forgot I was even wearing it!”
The Virustatic Shield has many benefits, especially for those with existing breathing and respiratory problems. Many people who have used our shields say that the light, breathable viscose material is much easier to tolerate than other types of face mask.
Recently we were contacted by two people who suffer with severe asthma, both of whom had experienced problems breathing when wearing surgical style face masks. They were looking for a solution as shielding guidance relaxed and face coverings became mandatory in shops and on public transport in the UK.
Both ladies found the Virustatic Shield to be light and easy to wear, while giving them confidence and security as they began to rejoin society. Here they tell their stories in their own words.
Jane Stanmore, 55, Mortgage Administrator from Anglesey
Shielding for: Severe asthma and immunosuppressant medication for alopecia
55-year-old Jane Stanmore was taking anti-rejection tablets for alopecia but was advised by her doctor to stop taking them immediately when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Combined with her severe asthma, they would make her extremely vulnerable to the virus.
During lockdown, as a result of her stopping her medication, Jane’s alopecia has got dramatically worse and the majority of her hair has fallen out. She has only left the house a handful of times to visit the doctors in her local village since March.
On discovering the Virustatic Shield, she has described it as her ‘saviour’, allowing her to get back to some kind of normality as shielding measures wound down on 1st August.
“Having suffered from quite severe hay fever and asthma all of my life, I know all too well how quickly my health can deteriorate when exposed to colds and flus, and so when the COVID-19 pandemic hit I was ultra-aware. I had also been on immune-suppressing medication for my alopecia, which I have since had to come off, and so I was feeling extra fragile and vulnerable.
“I’ve barely been out of the house since March, my husband has been doing all the shopping and I’ve just stayed inside where I feel safe. I felt a very uneasy going to the doctors wearing one of the disposable face masks that they provided. They were not tightly fixed around my nose and mouth, and I felt like I was exposed to infection – my glasses constantly steamed up too.
“Because of my asthma, I find the surgical style masks very difficult to tolerate, but I am too nervous to leave the house without any protection. It felt like an impossible choice but when I tried the snood it was much easier to breathe through.
“The snood face covering is an absolute saviour,” continued Jane, who is also hoping to be able to start taking her anti-rejection medication again very soon.
“I don’t fear for my health when I leave the house wearing one. It’s a snug fit so I feel like there is nothing that will get through. Now that the protein has been proven to protect against COVID-19, I have complete trust in it.
“I’ve also noticed that my hay fever has massively improved. Usually, at this time of the year, I would be riddled with coughs and sneezes; but wearing my snood on the worst days has helped keep that well under control, my hay fever symptoms have very much subsided!”
Keely Bisby, 26, from Manchester
Shielding for: severe asthma and pneumonia
Keely Bisby was nearing the end of her three-year training to be a paramedic when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit but was forced to isolate due to concerns over her health when working on the front line.
“It had been a long three years of intense training for my paramedic qualification when the UK first went into lockdown. I’ve suffered horrifically with asthma all of my life. I use my inhalers three or four times a day and have been hospitalised a number of times. I had a terrifying case of pneumonia just 18 months prior, so I was obviously very cautious when the first cases began to emerge in the UK.
“I was clearly on the vulnerable list, so I made the decision to take a step back from being on the ambulance and decided to isolate straight away.
“I had tried to use the disposable face masks that had been provided, but my asthma is so severe that I found it hard to breathe through the material, and I just couldn’t function properly in a work environment with one on. I also didn’t want to run the risk of infecting patients at the care homes I worked at, so taking a step back was a very difficult but conscious decision that felt necessary at the time.
“I tried to wear a disposable mask a couple of times, but I found that I was only increasing my risk of being infected with COVID-19 when I needed to use my inhaler. I was fumbling around with my hands to take it off, and then doing the same trying to get it back on again and I was so paranoid about catching the virus!
“I found the Virustatic Shield just three weeks into lockdown, which was made out of a “breathable” material, so I decided to get one and give it a go as I was desperate to go back to work again. I found it much more lightweight than any other mask I had tried, and could very easily pull it down just below my mouth to use my inhaler without running the risk of passing any germs from my hands to the snood like design – once it was on I forgot I was even wearing it!
“Since then I’ve been back working in care homes as usual and have had no problems at all! Once the lab reports came back to show that the unique protein on the Shields is effective against COVID-19, I’ve felt so much more confident being in that environment too. I’ve been unknowingly exposed to patients with COVID-19 about five times now – each time my tests results have come back negative. It’s one thing to hear that lab reports have been carried out but seeing the Virustatic Shield being effective in keeping me protected time and time again is indisputably impressive!
“Now, everyone at work has a Virustatic Shield, and since then we’ve not had any more issues!”
Asthma UK previously issued guidelines on face covering exemptions for asthmatics, warning not to wear them if people are struggling to control their respiratory condition, but the charity is now urging people to acclimatise themselves to face coverings amid fears of how coronavirus may affect those with more severe symptoms.
A spokesperson for Asthma UK said: “Some people with asthma tell us that face coverings can make breathing feel more difficult, which might be uncomfortable.
“It’s a good idea to try wearing a face covering at home, or on a short walk around the block first. It might not feel comfortable straight away so give it a chance.”
For the most up to date advice on coronavirus for asthmatics please visit https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/.