Surgical masks reduce COVID-19 spread, study shows
It also showed that relatively low-cost, targeted interventions to promote mask-wearing can significantly increase the use of face coverings in rural, low-income countries. Based on
the results, the interventional model is being scaled up to reach tens of millions of people in Southeast Asia and Latin America over the next few months.
The findings were released Sept. 1 on the Innovations for Poverty Action website, prior to their publication in a scientific journal, because the information is considered of pressing importance for public health as the pandemic worsens in many parts of the world.
“We now have evidence from a randomized, controlled trial that mask promotion increases the use of face coverings and prevents the spread of COVID-19,” said Stephen Luby, MD, professor of medicine at Stanford. “This is the gold standard for evaluating public health interventions. Importantly, this approach was designed be scalable in lower- and middle-income countries struggling to get or distribute vaccines against the virus.”
Luby shares senior authorship with Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, PhD, professor of economics at Yale, of a paper describing the research. The lead authors are Ashley Styczynski, MD, MPH, an infectious disease fellow at Stanford; Jason Abaluck, PhD, professor of economics at Yale; and Laura Kwong, PhD, a former postdoctoral scholar at Stanford who is now an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California-Berkeley.
The researchers also partnered with Innovations for Poverty Action, a global research and policy nonprofit organization.