'The effect is greatest when 100% of the public wear face masks': Growing body of research shows the role of face coverings in curbing the spread of the coronavirus

People wear face masks at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California on March 2, 2020.
FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images
Several new studies highlight what health experts have said since the global spread of the corona virus.
Face masks help reduce the rate of spread of the highly contagious disease.
The researchers also stressed the need for preventive measures such as social distance, personal protective equipment and improved hygiene.
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Partisanship in American politics has armed the face mask while people continue to get sick and die from the coronavirus.
However, a growing body of research shows that wearing facewear in public can limit the spread of the highly contagious disease that infected more than 2 million people in the United States and killed 115,251 people on Saturday, based on data from Johns Hopkins University .
A review and meta-analysis, funded by the World Health Organization and published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, examined data from 172 studies from 16 countries on six continents.
Without a mask, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is 17.4%. With an N95 ventilator or face mask, that number drops to 3.1%.
"Our results continue to support the idea that masks are generally associated not only with a significant reduction in the risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but also with N95 or similar respirators to provide a higher level of protection Virus infections as disposable medical masks or reusable multi-layer (12-16 layer) cotton masks, "wrote the authors of the review.
Similarly, the infection rate is reduced from 12.8% to 2.6% if a distance of three to six feet is maintained.
"The main advantage of physical distancing measures is to prevent retransmission, thereby reducing the adverse effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Therefore, the results of our current review support the implementation of a physical distancing policy of at least 1 [meter ] and, if possible, 2 [meters] or more, "says the review.
Medical experts believe that the coronavirus typically spreads through droplets from a patient's cough, speech, or sneezing. It is also possible that a person never shows symptoms and still spreads the disease to other people with whom he comes into contact.
Some people wear masks on April 25, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California, others do not.
Apu Gomes / AFP / Getty Images
Eye protection was therefore not a standard recommendation like regular hand washing. However, the Lancet review found that wearing safety glasses or face shields reduced the transmission rate from 16% to 5.5%.
"Using a mask alone is not enough to ensure an adequate level of protection or source control, and other personal and community measures should be taken to suppress respiratory virus transmission," said WHO. "Regardless of whether or not masks are used, hand hygiene, physical distance, and other infection control and infection control (IPC) measures are critical to preventing COVID-19 transmission from person to person. "
However, President Donald Trump's actions continue to fly in the face of this knowledge. He refuses to wear masks in public and went so far as to make fun of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for wearing one.
"Symptom-based monitoring may not recognize all infections."
A study conducted by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that preventive measures also reduced the infection rate among seafarers aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
The Navy reported that of a crew of approximately 4,800 seafarers, 1,273 tested positive for the virus and 382 seafarers participated in the study.
The results showed that sailors who did not wear masks had an infection rate of 80.8%, while those who used face cover had an infection rate of 55.8%. People who did not follow the social distance guidelines became ill at a rate of 70%, compared to 54.7% of those who stayed about a meter away from others.
Seafarers who used common areas also reported an infection rate of 67.5%, and those who avoided them saw an infection rate of 53.8%.
The Navy also reported that 18.5% of those infected with the coronavirus were asymptomatic - so they didn't get sick at all, but were still contagious - while others had mild symptoms.
"This study shows that young, healthy adults with COVID-19 may have mild, atypical, or no symptoms. Therefore, symptom-based monitoring may not detect all infections. The use of face coverings and other preventive measures could reduce transmission in similar situations. " The Navy said in a statement, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
These results were confirmed by a British study carried out by scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Greenwich, which concluded that locking alone cannot prevent an increase in coronavirus cases and deaths.
"Our analyzes support the immediate and universal introduction of face masks by the public," reported Richard Stutt, co-leader of the study in Cambridge, Reuters.
Stutt added that masks, social distancing and other containment measures could be "an acceptable way to deal with the pandemic and reopen economic activity" when companies fight to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
The spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Fayetteville
Nick Oxford / Reuters
"The impact could have been even greater if masks were introduced earlier."
This study appeared in a scientific journal called Proceedings of the Royal Society A, in which authors write that "if face masks are used continuously by the public (not just from the time symptoms first appear), the effective number of reproductions [ R value]; can be reduced below 1, which leads to a weakening of the spread of epidemics. "
The R value indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. An R value above 1 can trigger exponential virus growth, according to Reuters. In the case of the coronavirus, previous studies indicate that an average of 2 1/2 other people are infected.
The study therefore states: "The use of face masks by the public could significantly reduce the rate of spread of COVID-19, prevent further waves of disease and enable less stringent lock-down regulations. The effect is greatest if 100% of the public have face masks wear." . "
A study published by the non-profit institute for labor economics (IZA) examined the German city of Jena and came to similar results about the effectiveness of face masks.
"After face masks were introduced on April 6, 2020, the number of new infections dropped to almost zero," the authors wrote, adding that face coverings were the most helpful in reducing the infection rate in people over 60 years of age.
"We believe that reducing infection growth rates by 40% to 60% is our best estimate of the effects of face masks. We should also emphasize that 40 to 60% could still be a lower limit," they added.
The study goes on to say that masks could have been more effective if they had been used earlier and on a larger scale. It was only on April 20 and 29 that all federal states prescribed the wearing of face coverings.
"The daily growth rates for the number of infections with the introduction of face masks were 2 to 3%," wrote the authors of the study. "These are very low growth rates compared to the beginning of the epidemic in Germany, where the daily growth rates were also over 50%. One could therefore assume that the effects would have been greater if masks had been introduced earlier."
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