- A review conducted by 12 scientists found limited evidence to suggest that wearing face masks can effectively prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as Covid-19.
- The study examined 78 randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of face masks and hand washing, in limiting the spread of respiratory diseases.
- The study found no significant difference between the effectiveness of medical/surgical masks and N95 masks.
Although the Covid-19 outbreak claimed thousands of lives over three years ago, there is still limited evidence to suggest that wearing face masks can effectively prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Initially, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not recommend the use of face masks, but in April 2020, they changed their stance and advised the public to wear them.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield declared in September, as reported by Fox News, that face masks are the most crucial and effective measure for maintaining good health. As a result, face masks became mandatory in many places.
According to a review conducted by 12 scientists from prestigious universities worldwide, masking up may not have had much of an impact on the spread of Covid-19.
Cochrane Library published the study, which examined 78 controlled studies to determine whether “Physical intervention,” such as face masks and hand washing, helped to stop the spread. According to the Slate article, Cochrane Reviews are often regarded as the gold standard of evidence-based medicine.
According to the author review, wearing masks in the community may not be very effective in preventing Covid-19. The researchers conducted a comparison between the use of masks and not using them for this purpose.
Furthermore, the study indicated that there was no significant difference in the effectiveness of medical/surgical masks and N95 masks. In fact, wearing N95/P2 respirators may not make a significant difference in the number of people who contract confirmed cases of flu (based on five studies involving 8,407 people), or those who catch a flu-like illness (based on five studies involving 8,407 people) or respiratory illness (based on three studies involving 7,799 people).
According to Fox News, participants in the 78 studies came from countries with different income levels.
The authors of the study noted that data were gathered during the COVID-19 pandemic, non-epidemic flu seasons, epidemic flu seasons up until 2016, and the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009.
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The research’s result isn’t entirely conclusive, Bloomberg reports. Some of the experiments examined were carried out before Covid, when virus circulation and transmission were less severe. Many people didn’t consistently wear their masks. According to additional studies, masks can significantly lower Covid transmission rates, particularly in confined interior spaces, making them an essential tool.