A major study reveals that surgical masks are more effective than cotton masks in preventing the spread of coronavirus in communities.
More than 340,000 adults were tracked by researchers from Yale University in the United States throughout 600 communities in rural Bangladesh. According to the Washington Post, the data demonstrated that wearing a mask can have a considerable influence on preventing the transmission of symptomatic COVID-19.
Jason Abaluck, an economist at Yale, was reported as saying, “I think this should basically end any scientific debate about whether masks can be effective in combating COVID at the population level.”
The study, according to Abaluck, puts “a nail in the coffin” of anti-mask arguments. Wearers of the mask experienced a 9.3% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 seroprevalence, which means the virus was verified by bloodwork, and a further 11.9 percent reduction in COVID-19 symptoms.
However, the researchers stressed that this did not imply that masks were just 9.3% effective. “I think a big error would be to read this study and to say, ‘Oh, masks can only prevent 10 percent of symptomatic infections,'” Abaluck said. If masking were widespread, he believes the number would be several times higher.
According to the Washington Post, the work is currently being peer reviewed by the journal Science.
Furthermore, while cotton masks certainly reduced symptoms, the researchers “cannot reject” the possibility that, unlike surgical masks, they may have only a minor, if any, effect on symptomatic coronavirus infections. However, Abaluck emphasized that there is no evidence that fabric masks are ineffective.
The findings “don’t necessarily show that surgical masks are much, much better than cloth masks,” he said, “but we find much clearer evidence of the effectiveness in surgical masks.”