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[Slashdot] - Study: 100% Face Mask Use Could Crush Second, Third COVID-19 Wave

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"A new modeling study out of Cambridge and Greenwich universities suggests that face masks may be even more important than originally thought in preventing future outbreaks of the new coronavirus," reports SFGate: To ward off resurgences, the reproduction number for the virus (the average number of people who will contract it from one infected person) needs to drop below 1.0. Researchers don't believe that's achievable with lockdowns alone. However, a combination of lockdowns and widespread mask compliance might do the trick, they say. "We show that, when face masks are used by the public all the time (not just from when symptoms first appear), the effective reproduction number, Re, can be decreased below 1, leading to the mitigation of epidemic spread," the scientists wrote in the paper published Wednesday by the Proceedings of the Royal Society A. The modeling indicated that when lockdown periods are combined with 100% face mask use, disease spread is vastly diminished, preventing resurgence for 18 months, the time frame that has frequently been cited for developing a vaccine. It also demonstrated that if people wear masks in public, it is twice as effective at reducing the R number than if face coverings are only worn after symptoms appear. The masks don't have to be top-of-the-line surgical or respirator masks. Homemade coverings that catch only 50 percent of exhaled droplets would provide a "population-level benefit," they concluded. Another review funded by the World Health Organization and published in the journal Lancet also concluded "that data from 172 observational studies indicate wearing face masks reduces the risk of coronavirus infection," according to the Washington Post. A former director of America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, "It's a lot less economically disruptive to wear a mask than to shut society, so I can't understand some of the resistance to mask wearing."

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