Sunday, December 5, 2021

Wearing a mask cuts the risk of contracting Covid-19 in half, new study shows

Martha Fourcade | Bloomberg

As Covid-19 returns to Europe, one study recalls that simple measures like wearing masks and washing hands can help prevent illness.

Wearing a mask more than halves the risk of contracting Covid, according to a review of eight studies published in the British Medical Journal. Hand washing too. Physical distancing, meanwhile, lowers the risk by a quarter.

The results come amid evidence that vaccination efforts have not been enough to prevent revival as temperatures drop and people congregate indoors, forcing countries including Austria and the Netherlands to impose restrictions.

“It is likely that further control of the Covid-19 pandemic depends not only on high vaccination coverage and effectiveness, but also on continued adherence to effective and sustainable public health measures,” say the authors, including Stella Talich, lead researcher for the study and epidemiologist. at Monash University in Melbourne, the article says.

Scientists have struggled to evaluate public health measures and said they could not evaluate other measures such as quarantines, isolation and school closures because the studies were too fragmented. They called for more research, saying their findings are limited by the lack of reliable and comparable data.

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In a companion editorial, the BMJ says that funding for public health measures accounts for just 4% of global Covid research.

Given the centrality of public health and social responses to the pandemic, the uncertainties and controversies surrounding their impact, and the enormous research efforts being made to develop vaccines and drugs, the lack of investment in public health measures is perplexing, says Paul Glaziu. – wrote in an editorial with scientists from the UK and Norway, the director of the Institute for Evidence-Based Medicine at Australian Bond University.

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