A team of researchers in Texas and California compared trends in the rate of Covid-19 infection in Italy and New York, both before and after the mandatory face mask. Both areas have begun to see infection rates decline only after the application of mandatory face mask measures, according to a study published Thursday in the National Academy of Sciences’ Proceedings.
The researchers estimated that using a face mask prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May 9 and more than 66,000 infections in New York between April 17 and May 9.
“Using a face mask in public is the most effective way to prevent human transmission, and this cheap practice, combined with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine and contact detection, represents the most likely battle opportunity to stop the COVID pandemic. 19, before the development of a vaccine “they wrote.
The researchers calculated the effectiveness of different strategies to stop the spread of the infection and to determine how the virus mainly spreads. Viruses can be spread by direct contact when one person coughs or sneezes at another person. indirect contact, when a person coughs or sneezes on an object that is then touched by another person; or in the air through large droplets that quickly fall to the ground and tiny droplets, called aerosols, that can travel several feet and stick in the air. for a while.
To determine the main method of transmitting the virus, the researchers analyzed the trends in infection rates in three centers of the pandemic – Wuhan, China, Italy and New York. Mitigation measures used at these locations were examined, such as extensive testing, quarantine, contact detection, social distance, and mandatory use of a face mask.
The researchers then compared the time it took. In China, all measures have been implemented at the same time. Instead, mitigation measures were implemented at different times in Italy and New York.
This allowed the researchers to evaluate the relative effectiveness of the measures. They found that pollution rates in Italy and New York began to slow as soon as face masks became mandatory, not after the application of the lock in Italy or after the entry into force of orders at home in New York.
Areas in northern Italy began requiring face masks on April 6 with mandatory use nationwide by order on May 4. The use of a face mask in New York has been required since April 17. The researchers calculated the number of infections prevented between these dates and May 9th.
“Facial coverage prevents both airborne transmission, preventing the spraying and inhalation of airborne airborne viruses, and the transmission of contact by preventing droplet virus shedding,” they write. “On the other hand, social distance, quarantine and isolation, combined with hand disinfection, minimize contact (direct and indirect) transmission, but do not protect against airborne transmission.”
The study noted that, unlike China, the use of a face mask was popular in most of the western world during the early pandemic event. But the researchers said the evidence suggests that the masks work to slow the spread.
The researchers wrote that both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressed the need to prevent contact transmission, but both organizations were largely unaware of the importance of air transport.
“Current mitigation measures, such as social distancing, quarantine and isolation applied in the United States, are in themselves insufficient to protect the public,” the researchers wrote.
The team of five researchers is from Texas A&M University, Texas University, the University of California, San Diego and the California Institute of Technology.
Italy has been at a national lockout level since March 9, but Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told a news conference Thursday night that the country is further easing coranoid lock measures to allow professional sporting events, such as the Coppa Italia football match. , to start back doors from Friday.
Other institutions could also reopen on June 25, such as summer camps, kindergartens, betting rooms and bingo halls, Conte said, adding that he had just signed a decree that further facilitates locking measures. Non-professional sports that involve physical contact can also be continued.
CNN’s Livia Borghese contributed to this report.