health

Evidence shows that, yes, masks prevent COVID-19 – and surgical masks are the way to go

27 Comments
By Laura H Kwong

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Since the beginning of the world, everyone knows that if you put something in front of your mouth and nose, it will reduce a lot the spread of all the things that are coming out of your mouth and nose.

Nobody needs a study for that!

5 ( +15 / -10 )

..and therefore we should also put our hand in front of our mouth and nose when we are coughing or sneezing.

It is not only for good matters, it is also to prevent the spread of whatever is coming out of your mouth and nose.

So it is absolutely clear that a mask will work to prevent the spread of a virus.

4 ( +14 / -10 )

A difficult thing to study and prove, but seems pretty intuitive that masks will help reduce the spread. The "masks don't work" crowd bug me. Just because something isn't 100% effective does not mean they don't work.

8 ( +18 / -10 )

Blocking the air passage of course will stop infectious things from entering.

However, plenty of oxygen can also help build a robust immune system that can easily handle those.

I breath as much fresh air as possible, avoid blocking my mouth and nose as much as possible and practice healthy breathing techniques developed for Yoga.

After 18 months of exposure, I have not suffered from Covid.

-7 ( +11 / -18 )

A difficult thing to study and prove, but seems pretty intuitive that masks will help reduce the spread. The "masks don't work" crowd bug me. 

We all could have predicted who would have been the ‘masks don’t work’ crowd. Usually those of a particular political persuasion, prone to conspiracy theory thinking and most of all, quite childish.

Most of them made up their minds about masks before any evidence was presented. They also tend not to have a very varied media diet.

1 ( +13 / -12 )

However, plenty of oxygen can also help build a robust immune system that can easily handle those.

Mask do not reduce the oxygen intake in any significant way, your reasoning is as applicable to them to using a hat.

After 18 months of exposure, I have not suffered from Covid.

Some 140kg, chain smokers, daily drunk to stupor people can say the same, does this prove to you their lifestyle is healthy then?

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

In the Bangladesh study nobody checked if any of the participants had already been infected, which completely destroys the validity of the results.

It's full of other problems too. Why did masks only protect old people, for example? It could be that the young people were just more honest about telling the researchers they had symptoms - think about how much they could have missed:

If a person reported any symptoms of COVID-19, we took and tested a blood sample for evidence of infection.

Why not just check everyone?

The study design is absolutely terrible and the one in Denmark was far better

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Nobody will ever convince me that a flimsy piece of paper or cloth will work better than a jab in the arm. Let me breathe!

-19 ( +0 / -19 )

The study has yet to be peer reviewed but has been well received by the medical community.

Here is a link to the 31 August study, The Impact of Community Masking on COVID-19:

A Cluster-Randomized Trial in Bangladesh:

https://www.poverty-action.org/sites/default/files/publications/Mask_RCT____Symptomatic_Seropositivity_083121.pdf

It will come up in polite conversation, so here it is, on PDF pages 33 and 34:

"At the time of the study, the predominant circulating SARS-CoV-2 strain was B.1.1.7 (alpha) The impacts of the delta variant on the number of infections prevented by a given mask-wearer are uncertain . . . "

Footnote omitted.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The study design is absolutely terrible and the one in Denmark was far better

The one where no control whatsoever was done to see if people that were supposed to wear the masks were actually doing it? and that studied a group surrounded by people not wearing any masks with much lower community incidence? If the own authors recognized their study was severely limited I would trust they understood better their study than you.

In the Bangladesh study nobody checked if any of the participants had already been infected, which completely destroys the validity of the results.

That argument only works if there is a specific reason to expect difference in the rates of infection previous to the study, whitout that reason the criticism can be disregarded as unfounded, after all there "could" be infinite other differences between groups. The same applies to your forced reasoning about the differences observed on effects on age groups, do you have a reference for this actually happening? because without it the much more obvious reason (that differences become clearer in populations more susceptible to developing clinical sings of the disease) is much more likely to explain it.

Why not just check everyone?

Because the objective of the study is clearly defined as investigating the reduction of COVID-19 disease, which this does without problem, your suggestion would work to detect infection, which would be very different study. Masks are well know to reduce importantly the viral loads the people are exposed to, and lower viral loads lead more frequently to asymptomatic infection, this is the reason why investigating disease instead of just infection is more informative.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

@Jimizo

Completely right. When I argue with these people or see their opinions online I always remember the kids at my school who always did the opposite of what the teacher told them and could sit there staring ahead vacantly without a single thought in their heads until the opportunity to be a pain in the neck presented itself.

Those kids are grown up now and have surrounded themselves with other geniuses who share the same opinions.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

@YeahRight

You are correct that the vaccination is definitely more important than the masks that most people use but they also are not mutually exclusive. You can (and should) get vaccinated and still wear a mask.

You can breathe just fine with a mask, they don't impact oxygen intake in any significant way unless you are walking around with diving equipment on or something.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

@Vreth

Ive been posting here for quite a while. You could have predicted with certainty who would be in the masks don’t work category.

It’s a pathology.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

Well I'm sure if there were any articles that showed masks didn't work, this media outlet wouldn't publish them. Food for thought

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

Masks should be worn if you have covid, or are taking care of someone with covid. It might be a good idea to wear a mask in crowded indoor locations. But it makes little sense to wear it all the time, such as walking/running outdoors, driving alone...; unless of course it turns you on in some way...

This article is very typical of other articles from The Conversation, a very one-sided "conversation".

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Well I'm sure if there were any articles that showed masks didn't work, this media outlet wouldn't publish them. Food for thought

If you think scientific advancement depends on what is published in the media you need much more food for your thought, media is irrelevant. The scientific consensus is that masks work very nicely in reducing the risk because that is what can be concluded from the whole of scientific literature, whatever trends in twitter has no relevance to this.

This article is very typical of other articles from The Conversation, a very one-sided "conversation".

That happens a lot when the vast majority of the scientific evidence points towards the same conclussion. If an article was written today about the circulatory system you would find it heavily one-sided towards the heart being the organ responsible for it.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Masks help prevent the spread of airborne contagions.

In other groundbreaking news, it has been announced that it is expected that the Sun will rise in the East tomorrow.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

@Jimizo, Vreth, virusrex

Masks don't work is an outright stupid statement.

So much that there is NO merit in pointing our how stupid it is.

And I honestly don't believe ALL so called "anti-maskers" believe that masks DON'T actually work. If ANYone actually believes masks don't work one can certainly doubt their mental capacity and judgement ability.

That said, I don't know the REALITY of "anti-maskers" as a real group or a even a thing. I know only for certain my environment and my way of life, my country(which is not the US) and Japan.

And I have not met ANY anti-masker, and the people commenting here, that you refer to as such, NONE is an anti-masker per se, NOR do they believe masks DON'T actually work. They just don't want to be forced to use them because 1) think their immune system is enough, 2) think only symptomatic people or high risk people absolutely need them, 3) understand to use them in places with crowds or indoors with a lot of people, 4) don't feel the threat of a 99.9997% survival rate virus commands such fear of death to wear a mask all the time, 5) they are not ANTI-maskers in that they have no problem if OTHER people choose to wear them as they please and 6) see the hypocrisy of a large number of authority figures not following their own mask rules when is not convenient for them and the flagrant disregard of such rules as if Covid didn't existed, say for demonstrations, violent or not, without social distance,.

And with that what I mean, is where do you come from with the idea that a large number of people don't believe in masks? It seems to me you are witch hunting, exaggerating the obvious idiotic stances of clearly dim witted individuals and granting them more importance than they deserve by giving them all your energy and thoughts.

I think most people on any political spectrum understands what mask can and cannot do. The large number of people who dislike the masks do so in the manners I enlisted above from 1) to 6).

I find your condescending attitude as just a way of feeling better about yourselves because you "understand" masks prevent something from going in and out of your mouth.

Get your heads out of your cloud and realize the debate is not whether masks work or not, but whether mandates and actual enforcement of mask rules and even discrimination is warranted.

You are no heroes fighting evil monsters who hate masks. You come through as self serving, trying to elevate yourselves from others, by pointing at their stupidity when that said stupidity is soo obvious ANY one can see it, while obviating entirely the actual mask debate (listed from 1) to 6) in my opinion, I might have left something out).

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

@Chikatilo

Not anti-mask, but I agree with what you've posted.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

And I honestly don't believe ALL so called "anti-maskers" believe that masks DON'T actually work. If ANYone actually believes masks don't work one can certainly doubt their mental capacity and judgement ability.

And that is your problem, assuming that anybody that is called an "anit-masker" is meant to be someone that don't believe masks work, when in reality is much simpler, anti-maskers are people that spread disinformation about the efficacy of masks for whatever reason they may have. It may be they don't believe the science, it may be they don't like science proving something they don't want to do as effective and positive, or it may just be a symptom of something much more general, where they consider science the enemy that so frequently proves exactly what they don't want to believe so they oppose scientific conclussions in general (and that is why you can read the same person denying many different scientific conclussions, from the safety of vaccines, to the causes and effect of climate change).

Get your heads out of your cloud and realize the debate is not whether masks work or not, but whether mandates and actual enforcement of mask rules and even discrimination is warranted.

If a measure can be demonstrated to be effective, free of any significative negative effect and easy to do then it can perfectly justify rules for their use, this applies to washing your hands, widespread testing or mask use as easy examples. There is no need to have "fear of death" to use masks, just not being completely self centered and understanding a tiny amount of personal effort can make a difference in the spreading of the pandemic, (that obviously has not a 99.99997% survival rate)

It is irrelevant why people choose to propagate disinformation about masks, the important thing is to make clear the falsehood on their comments so other people won't believe it. Anybody is free to dislike masks, what nobody can do is to lie so they are not made to wear one in perfectly valid situations. Your opinion on how other people "seem to be" by doing this is also irrelevant. Correcting disinformation is more important than how other people appear to you personally.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

MontyToday 07:17 am JST

Since the beginning of the world, everyone knows that if you put something in front of your mouth and nose, it will reduce a lot the spread of all the things that are coming out of your mouth and nose.

Nobody needs a study for that!

Monty, my friend, I'm not arguing with you, in an ideal world you'd be 100% right, but you are too optimistic about other human beings. A quick scroll down through some of the comments will demonstrate what I mean.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I disagree quite a bit, because there’s always also shadow when there’s light. While masks prevent you from spreading your virus load in full volume to other people, who might be more vulnerable or have a weakened immunity, you keep with your mask on of course a bigger part of your own virus load inside yourself , so that you in that wearing time span increase your own risk of developing Covid-19 and the viruses are now even kind of ‘forced’ to reproduce and multiply themselves, as they are not breathed out into the environment but kept inside your throat, lungs, organs, so that you give even more of them away in sum afterwards, especially when taking off the mask, and so on. Just understand, that there are not only advantages for you or all of us combined, when declaring masks one of the decisive problem solution. That’s of course not true and lying to oneself.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

When you read how this "study" was done, it is so full of holes as to be almost meaningless.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Sven Asai:

What nonsense. You seem to be confusing Covid-19 with halitosis.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

When you read how this "study" was done, it is so full of holes as to be almost meaningless

So what are those holes you talk about? no study is perfect, but this achieves without problem the objectives they aimed at with their methods, sometimes what people consider "flaws" are actually just they not understanding what one study is meant to investigate.

While masks prevent you from spreading your virus load in full volume to other people, who might be more vulnerable or have a weakened immunity.

This is of course terribly easy to research epidemiologically, and there is absolutely no evidence it happens at all, it would be for example obvious if the people that have used masks all day long because of their jobs had higher rates of problems because of insufficient immunity, something that obviously is not true.

You simply have a very wrong Idea about how viruses replicate and are transmitted, the amount that is expelled is just a tiny microscopic portion of what is continously being produced during active infection, you could collect all the viruses expelled during a week of the disease and you would not get enough to reach the same amount a single round of replication produces in the body.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Oh for heaven's sake, it really is very simple - there are two types of mask: (i) the 'source control' masks (such as the surgical or cloth ones) and (ii) the 'wearer protecting' ones (such as the N95 or N99 ones).

If you want me to wear a source control mask you are saying that your health is my responsibility. I utterly refute that. Your health is your responsibility. If you are worried about covid, then protect yourself by wearing a wearer protecting mask. If you are not prepared to do that then if you catch covid that's your fault and your problem.

I genuinely don't understand why all the people complaining and worrying about the spread of the disease don't all wear the proper N95/99 masks - can anyone explain this?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Oh for heaven's sake, it really is very simple - there are two types of mask: (i) the 'source control' masks (such as the surgical or cloth ones) and (ii) the 'wearer protecting' ones (such as the N95 or N99 ones).

This is a false dichotomy. All masks can protect both the wearer and others, just with a higher or lower efficacy. a N95 is perfectly useful to protect others from the wearer and a surgical mask also works protection the wearer from other peoples transmission.

If you want me to wear a source control mask you are saying that your health is my responsibility.

No, because differently from science deniers that only think about themselves and what they want to do the issue of using masks is about public health, so the objective is for everybody to wear masks responsibly for the health of the community in general. People can be worried by persistence of less effective economic measures because of the refusal of people of following the more efficient barrier measures, or about people that can't get vaccines, or those that are still at important risk even with masks, etc.

I genuinely don't understand why all the people complaining and worrying about the spread of the disease don't all wear the proper N95/99 masks - can anyone explain this?

Because they are not so easily available? or cost effective? if a normal surgical mask provide most of the protection of a N95 the small extra protection may not justify the extra costs. For some people do and they use them without problem.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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