The number of coronavirus cases in the United States would plummet if at least 80 percent of Americans wore face masks every time they went out in public, a new study finds.
As Vanity Fair reported, a soon-to-be released study that was put together by University of California at Berkeley’s International Computer Science Institute along with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology finds that widespread facial coverings would be a very effective way to combat the spread of the virus. De Kai, an American computer scientist who served as chief architect of the study, said that widespread mask-wearing is one of the reasons that Japan has had a drastically smaller number of infections and deaths.
The study, which Vanity Fair noted will be submitted to a major journal, found that mask-wearing could have a similar effect in the United States.
“If 80% of a closed population were to don a mask, COVID-19 infection rates would statistically drop to approximately one twelfth the number of infections—compared to a live-virus population in which no one wore masks,” the Vanity Fair report noted of the study’s findings.
But Vanity Fair also noted that there has been some resistance to wearing masks, including apprehension from representatives from the World Health Organization who express worry that people may not wear them properly, or could get a false sense of security from wearing them and thus relax other social distancing measures. In the United States, President Donald Trump has openly said he does not plan to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone should wear masks in public. Trump has made a number of public appearances without wearing one, as has Vice President Mike Pence.
Other studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of facial coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus. One, published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggested that both surgical and cloth masks are not effective in stopping the spread of the virus. Conducted by a trio of universities in South Korea, the study found that no mask was entirely effective at filtering particles that carry the virus, as these masks have shown to be for the influenza virus.
“Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients,” the study concluded. “Prior evidence that surgical masks effectively filtered influenza virus informed recommendations that patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear face masks to prevent transmission.”