COVID-19 Misinformation & Disinformation

Masks really do work to halt COVID

A major study shows that masks lower infection rates, but some masks are better than others.

Masks work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s the finding of a new, large-scale study of mask usage during the pandemic. And the data should provide ample evidence to counter arguments that masks are either useless or actively dangerous.

The study – conducted by scientists from Stanford and Yale in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action – found that widespread mask usage decreased the proportion of people reporting COVID-like symptoms by an average of 11%. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped by 9% on average.

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The study was conducted in 600 villages in Bangladesh. It was unique in that it used baseline control groups in real-life situations to evaluate the effects of mask usage.

The study also found that surgical masks were much more successful at reducing COVID-19 than cloth masks – even the really good ones. However, even cloth masks brought COVID numbers down in the villages where they were used.

The hope is that this study could provide ammunition for policy-makers seeking to increase mask usage in other places, such as the United States.

“Unfortunately, much of the conversation around masking in the United States is not evidence-based,” said Stanford Professor of Medicine Stephen Luby. “Our study provides strong evidence that mask wearing can interrupt the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 [the virus behind COVID-19].”


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