Although Israel has stopped requiring people to wear facemasks outdoors, these Covid-year accessories likely protected many of us not only from Covid-19 but also from asthma and allergies.

That is the conclusion of a study conducted by Prof. Nancy Agmon-Levin, head of Sheba Medical Center’s Clinical Immunology, Angioedema and Allergy Unit.

Levin’s study found that during the past year of the pandemic, the number of urgent visits to the medical center’s emergency unit by asthma patients dropped by 49 percent. Hospitalization of severe asthma patients dropped by 65% in that same period.

Agmon-Levin attributes this dramatic drop by the wearing of masks, which prevented pollutants and other allergens – such as blooming of flowers and trees — from triggering severe asthmatic and allergic reactions. She said at least 80% of asthma attacks are allergy related.

“The simple wearing of a cheap mask has the ability to prevent allergy and asthma sufferers from spending thousands of shekels a month on intensive treatments to curb allergic symptoms on a regular basis,” she commented.

It is also likely that mask wearing was a factor in the preventing influenza infections over the winter. Israel did not record a single hospitalization from the flu.