Wearing a Mask Reduces Covid Incidence by 53%, Global Study Finds | Coronavirus

Wearing a mask is the most effective public health measure to fight Covid, reducing the incidence by 53%, shows the first global study of its kind.

Vaccines are safe and effective and save lives around the world. But most do not provide 100% protection, most countries have not vaccinated everyone, and it is not yet known whether the jabs will prevent future transmission of emerging variants of the coronavirus.

Globally, Covid cases topped 250 million this month. The virus still infects 50 million people worldwide every 90 days due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, with thousands of deaths every day.

Now, a systematic review and meta-analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found for the first time that mask wear, social distancing, and hand washing are all effective measures to curb cases – mask wearing being the most important factor. more efficient.

“This systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that several personal and social protection measures, including hand washing, mask wearing and physical distancing are associated with reductions in the incidence of Covid-19”, have writes the researchers in The BMJ.

They said the results underscore the need to continue wearing masks, socially distancing oneself and washing hands alongside immunization programs.

Researchers at Monash University and the University of Edinburgh say multi-faceted measures, such as locking and closing borders, schools and workplaces, require further analysis to assess their effects potential negative effects on populations.

Public health or non-pharmaceutical interventions are known to be beneficial in the fight against respiratory infections like influenza, and countries around the world have tried to use them to curb the spread of Covid.

However, so far the reviews have not been strong enough to allow experts to draw firm conclusions on the effectiveness of such measures in the fight against Covid.

The results of more than 30 studies from around the world have been analyzed in detail, showing a statistically significant reduction of 53% in the incidence of Covid with mask wearing and a 25% reduction with physical distancing.

Handwashing also indicated a substantial 53% reduction in the incidence of Covid, although this was not statistically significant after adjusting for the small number of included handwashing studies.

Detailed analysis was not possible for other measures, including quarantine and isolation, universal lockdowns and closures of borders, schools and workplaces, due to differences in the design of the studies, outcome measures and quality, the researchers said.

Wearing the mask was adopted by many countries at the start of the pandemic, but almost two years later, many have now abandoned some or all of their initial requirements.

The Dutch government decided this month to reimpose the mandatory wearing of face masks in a bid to slow the latest spike in infections.

Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have also recently tightened the rules on wearing masks. But Hungary, which has seen a sharp increase in cases this month, has resisted making masks mandatory in closed spaces.

In England, the legal obligation to wear a mask ended in July, except in health establishments and retirement homes, unless there is an exemption. In Wales they are still legally required on public transport and in all indoor public spaces except pubs and restaurants. In Scotland, masks must always be worn in shops and on public transport, as well as in pubs and restaurants when they are not seated. In Northern Ireland, masks must always be worn on public transport and in shops.

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