COVID-19 | Masks more effective than Social Distancing: PNAS study

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In a recent study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), US, it was claimed that wearing a mask can be more effective in containing the spread of the coronavirus as compared to social distancing.

The study states that wearing a mask has proven to protect thousands of people by minimizing the transmission or the spread of the virus.

It mentions that infection trends have fallen significantly in the worst-hit countries of the world, when the mask-wearing rule was implemented. For example – on April 6 (Italy) and April 17(New York City). The researchers claim that this protective measure alone has reduced the number of infections, by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9.

It also explained that wearing a mask is more effective than other measures because it reduces the risk of airborne transmission as well as physical transmission. However, in comparison, hand hygiene and social distancing only look after the physical spread of the virus through direct contact.

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“The unique function of face-covering to block atomization and inhalation of virus-bearing aerosols accounts for the significantly reduced infections,” researchers said.

Till now many such pieces of research have surfaced. In an earlier study by Lancet published on June 2, it suggested that the risk of transmission is reduced when people stand 2m away from each other rather than 1m distance. The study revealed that the risk of infection was 2.6% when people stood away more than 1m against 12.8% when the distance between people was less than 1m.

It is one of the most comprehensive studies backed by WHO, and it stresses that keeping 2m distance and other protective measures intact would be the most effective way to contain the spread of the virus.

Over time, many researchers have invested their prophecy to understand the result of various protective gear – eye protection measure, mask, or social distancing. Decoding all these researches, we can conclude that all the suggested measures are important in their respective place and should be followed strictly until the world discovers a concrete measure to end the pandemic.

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