The importance of mask use in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and public awareness has been demonstrated in the largest real-world study recently published.
The study systematically examined whether mask use helps slow the spread of COVID-19 in society. Two important findings are that mask use significantly reduces symptoms of COVID-19 infection, especially among the elderly, while surgical masks are more effective than cloth masks.
The results of the study were analyzed by the doctors of the therapeutic clinic of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Lina Pasu (Associate Professor of Endocrinology), Theodora Psaltopoulou (Professor of Preventive Medicine) and Thanos Dimopoulos (Professor of EKPA).
The study was conducted from November 2020 and over 5 months in 600 villages in Bangladesh, while 342,126 people took part in it. To answer the question, the researchers randomly divided the villages into two groups:
1) those in which they have developed programs to promote the use of a mask, with free distribution to households and providing information on the importance of wearing it;
2) those in which there was no special intervention.
Thus, the study, although conducted in a real-world setting, is of the type of randomized study, which is more reliable.
The researchers found that among the approximately 178,000 people who were recommended to wear masks, their use increased by about 30%, and that the behavior change continued for 10 weeks or more.
A decrease in symptomatic cases of COVID-19 was found by 11.9%, and cases with a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 were 9.3% fewer.