Masks Not Very Effective at Protecting Wearers, Says New Danish Study
The urgency of trying to control the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred public health researchers to search for evidence-based measures that might work to protect the public from becoming infected. Non-pharmaceutical interventions have ranged from hard lockdowns to recommendations on social distancing and consistent hand hygiene. Along with those interventions, researchers have sought to evaluate the usefulness of wearing face masks as a way to possibly slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that masks don’t appear to protect the people wearing them, but are still likely to prevent sick people who wear them from spreading their illness.
This research may receive a hostile reception from some quarters, but it’s important to learn everything we can about when and how masks work. Masks may mitigate the pandemic by preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus from infected people to others (source control), by protecting wearers (protective effect), or both. Among other evidence considered by researchers and public health officials are the equivocal results of older face mask studies done well before the current public health emergency (and far less urgently), along with observational studies that try to tease out their efficacy or lack thereof on the fly.
Randomized controlled trials (RCT), in which one group of participants is randomly assigned the treatment while the control group receives standard care, are the gold standard for determining the efficacy of medical treatments. For example, recent COVID-19 vaccine RCTs report that those inoculations are 95 percent effective in preventing viral infections. However, earlier facial covering RCTs have been generally too small to securely rule in or rule out treatment effects. In many studies, adherence to the study protocols was somewhat inconsistent.
Earlier this year, as the pandemic was taking hold, a team of Danish researchers launched an RCT to assess whether recommending the use of a surgical mask outside the home redu
Article from Latest – Reason.com