It seems as though anything and everything has been tried to slow the spread of COVID-19. From lockdowns to masks, the various techniques being used feature varying degrees of success. Due to the lack of COVID-19 research that is available this early in the emergence of the virus, these methods also tend to be controversial.
Thankfully, many of the preventative methods are now being researched in relation to their COVID-19 specifically, providing insights into their usefulness. The results of these studies could very well shape the discourse surrounding preventative techniques that are used going forward, shed light on what we’ve gotten right and wrong up to this point, and otherwise inform the manners in which we approach COVID-19 as a society and global community.
A study in Denmark was recently conducted to assess the effectiveness of surgical masks in preventing COVID-19 infection. Check out the methodology and findings below!
During April and May of 2020, a randomized controlled trial was conducted using 4862 adult participants. The study was designed to include adults who would not normally wear masks as part of their occupation. As such, the participants were to spend more than three hours outside per day, as well as follow social distancing measures.
At the end of the month, participants from the mask and non-mask groups would be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, polymerase chain reaction, or hospital diagnosis to determine whether or not they had contracted the virus. They would also be tested for other respiratory viruses.
3030 participants were originally assigned to the mask-wearing group, while 2994 were initially assigned to the control group. Of these, 4862 finished the month-long study.
42 participants from the mask group contracted COVID-19 (1.8%) compared to 53 from the control group (2.1%).
In this particular study, masks did not provide a statistically significant reduction in COVID-19 infection rates. It is important to note that the community this particular study took place in featured a modest infection rate, some social distancing, and general mask use was uncommon.
In other words, the implication of the study is that masks are not notably effective in COVID-19 prevention, but there were some factors that could have contributed to this result. More research in other environments is needed to determine the usefulness of masks as a prevention method on a broader scale.