Masks, social distancing still worthwhile

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Mask wearing and physical distancing are tied to reductions in the spread of COVID-19 and should be continued, according to researchers who reviewed 72 previous studies.

When they analyzed results from eight of the studies in detail, they saw a 53% reduction in the incidence of COVID-19 with mask wearing and a 25% reduction with physical distancing. There is not yet enough data to confirm the overall benefits of more stringent measures such as lockdowns, school and workplace closures, and border closures, the researchers reported this week in The BMJ.

Very few of the studies analyzed were randomized trials, so they cannot prove the interventions directly reduced infection rates.

Still, the researchers conclude, “It is likely that further control of the COVID-19 pandemic depends not only on high vaccination coverage and its effectiveness but also on ongoing adherence to effective and sustainable public health measures.”


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